A pregnancy involving women who are thirty-five years old or older is known as geriatric pregnancy. Most healthy women who conceived after the age of thirty-five and even into their forties have healthy babies.
Still, it does not mean that geriatric pregnancy is without risks or complications. If you are thirty-five years old or older and plan to get pregnant, you should take precautions and measures to increase your chances of having a healthy baby. Here is what you need to know about getting pregnant after thirty-five years old.
What are the Possible Risks or Complications of Geriatric Pregnancy?
Issues may arise during pregnancy regardless of the mother’s age. However, women at the age of thirty-five or older are more likely to experience certain risks or complications, such as:
- Taking Longer to Conceive: Women have a limited number of chromosomes. As they reach their mid to late thirties, the eggs’ quantity and quality decrease. Moreover, the eggs of older women do not fertilise as easily as young woman. If they are older than 35 years old and have not been able to get pregnant within six months, they should consider consulting with a gynecologist for advice.
- Higher Chance of Having Multiple Pregnancies: The odds of having twins increase with age because of hormonal changes that could lead to the production of multiple eggs simultaneously. The utilisation of assisted reproductive technologies, such as IVF, can also play a part.
- More Likely to Acquire Gestational Diabetes: This type of diabetes only happens during pregnancy and becomes more common as the woman gets older. Therefore, older women need to have strict control over their blood sugar intake and be physically fit. Sometimes, they may need medication. Untreated, gestational diabetes can result in the baby growing considerably larger than normal, thereby increasing the risk of injuries during labour. This condition can also increase the risk of high blood pressure during pregnancy, premature birth and complications to the baby after childbirth.
- Higher Risk of Developing High Blood Pressure: Studies found that high blood pressure that begins during pregnancy is more typical in older women. The gynaecologist will closely monitor their blood pressure and the development and growth of their baby. They may require more regular obstetric appointments and may deliver before the due date to prevent potential complications.
- More Likely to Give Birth to Premature or Low Birth Weight Babies: Premature babies, particularly those born the earliest, usually have complicated medical issues.
- Higher Chance of Needing a C-section: Older mothers have an increased risk of developing pregnancy-associated complications, resulting in caesarean delivery. One example of such complication is placenta previa, a condition wherein the placenta obstructs the cervix.
- Higher Risk of Chromosomal Anomalies: Infants born to older mothers have an increased risk of some chromosome aberrations like Down syndrome.
- Higher Risk of Pregnancy Loss: Older women have an increased risk of pregnancy loss, either by stillbirth or miscarriage, possibly because of foetal chromosomal anomalies or pre-existing medical issues. Studies found that a decrease in the eggs’ quality, along with a higher risk of chronic medical issues, such as diabetes and high blood pressure, could increase miscarriage risk. Seek help from a gynaecologist on monitoring the baby’s health during the last weeks of pregnancy.
How to Increase the Chances of Having a Healthy Baby After 35?
Here are some tips to increase the chances of having a healthy pregnancy and baby:
- Schedule for Preconception Health Checks and Counselling: Women over the age of thirty-five should talk to the gynaecologist about their overall health and consider lifestyle changes that may help increase their chances of having a healthy baby and pregnancy. They should address any concerns they have about pregnancy or fertility. Also, ask about how to improve the chances of conception and options they have if they struggle to get pregnant.
- Seek Frequent Prenatal Care: Frequent prenatal visits allow the healthcare provider to monitor the mothers’ and babies’ health. Mothers should mention any signs and symptoms that may concern them.
- Eat a Balanced Diet: Pregnant women need more folic acid, iron, vitamin D, calcium and other essential nutrients. They should also take a prenatal vitamin every day, ideally beginning a few months before conception.
- Stay Active: Getting physically fit also helps ease, prevent discomfort, improve the energy level and the overall well-being of the mother. It can also help them prepare for delivery by improving their muscle strength and stamina. Still, they should talk to their doctor before beginning an exercise program, particularly if they have any underlying health issues.
How to Lower the Risk of Pregnancy Issues?
Mothers should take care of themselves, manage any existing medical conditions and gain the recommended amount of weight during pregnancy. The healthier they are, the better it will be for their baby. They should also keep up with doctor appointments.
Many women get to have a healthy baby even when they are thirty-five years old or older. However, some older women may develop certain risks or complications during pregnancy. Therefore, women aged thirty-five and above that plan to conceive should seek advice from the gynaecologist and take some measures before and during conception to increase their chances of having a healthy pregnancy and baby.