Having A Healthy Pregnancy After 35
Reduced odds of having a healthy pregnancy
Although you may feel like you're still in your prime, your maternal age is working against you regardless of how gracefully you're marching with father time. "The biological clock is real," warns Dr. Allison Hill, Los Angeles, California OB/GYN, mommydocs.com. "Women are born with all the eggs they will ever have. As you age, your eggs age with you... and the ability of older eggs to form a healthy baby decreases dramatically with age."
But, you may be surprised that your biological clock is ticking faster than you think. At the young age of 35, you're already considered in the advanced maternal age category. "When you are under age 35, there is a 20 percent chance of conceiving and having a healthy baby each month. By age 40, the rate decreases to 7 percent per month and at 45, it is less than 1 percent per month," explains Dr. Hill.
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Common pregnancy risks for older mothers
Although fears of Down syndrome are most commonly associated with women of advanced maternal age, other pregnancy-related complications also increase as you pass your 35th birthday:
- Gestational diabetes
- Preterm labor
- Prolonged labor
- Breeched deliveries
- Developmental disorders such as Down syndrome and autism
- Babies born with low Apgar scores
While many of the complications older mothers may experience are common with age even outside of pregnancy, the good news is that many are manageable.
How to lower your risk of complications
Although risks of complications increase with older mothers, pregnancy after age 35 is still possible when you stay healthy and take precautions. "The best way to reduce that risk is to optimize your health BEFORE pregnancy – see your doctor, obtain an ideal weight, make sure your thyroid and blood counts are good, check your blood pressure, start prenatal vitamins," advises Dr. Mary Hinckley, a reproductive endocrinologist at Reproductive Science Center of the Bay Area.
In addition, researchers at the American Society for Reproductive Medicine's annual meeting reported that those using fertility treatments may have a better outcome when skipping superovulation procedures and opting initially for in vitro fertilization (IVF).
Although complications associated with having a baby later in life such as Down syndrome and miscarriage may make you think twice about opting to be an older mother, taking good care of your health before and during pregnancy can boost your chances of having a risk-free pregnancy. Just be sure to talk to your doctor about any concerns before conceiving to give your baby the best start possible!