Advanced Maternal Age
“Advanced maternal age” is a label your care provider may slap on your chart when you are pregnant and 35 or older. What does it really mean, in the great scheme of things?
Is age just a state of mind?
My youngest child was born the year I turned 35. I didn’t really think about my age when I went into the pregnancy, so I was caught off guard when the nurse at my obstetrician’s office offered to outsource me to a bigger city down south for an amniocentesis. I declined, as I would most of the prenatal testing that had any element of risk to it, but it got me to thinking -- what is it with the age of 35?
Turns out, the risk of genetic abnormalities, such as Down syndrome, rises with advancing age. By the time a woman reaches 35, the risk of a genetic issue is equal to or less than the risk of a miscarriage when an amnio is carried out, so it’s a matter of weighing the pros and cons -- are you willing to take that risk, or not?
The real deal
So, I declined the amino (I would have liked the knowledge, but as it had taken years to get pregnant, I wasn't willing to take the risk), but I soon found out what the real deal was behind being older than I was during my first three pregnancies. Granted, I am not what is known as a strong and fit being, but I found my fourth pregnancy to be extremely physically taxing. I had way more aches and pains than I did seven years prior when I’d had my last child. My hips screamed at me by the end -- and walking was a chore. A huge chore. So much so, that I actually arranged my workspace so I could wheel around on a chair (rather than walk) to wherever I needed to go.
My blood pressure was a wee bit higher, and I also failed my gestational diabetes screening, which I had not done before (I did, however, pass the three-hour test).
I know that some of my discomfort came from the fact that I’d already carried three babies before and my innards were all sorts of stretched out. But pregnancy, at age 34 and 35, was harder on me than I expected. In the end, I had a healthy baby girl and am eternally grateful for her.
If you had a baby at or after age 35, what was your experience like?