Pregnancy after 35
Having children after the age of 35 is common today, whether it’s due to the increased incidence of divorce and remarriage, late marriages or the intentional delay of pregnancy by the couple. Today, women in their late 30s and in their 40s are generally in good health and can look forward to healthy pregnancies.
However, women who get pregnant after the age of 35 are naturally prone to more complications, whether mother or fetus-related. This should not stop an older woman from thinking of having a baby, but she should be extra careful to ensure a healthy pregnancy for herself and her child. Being aware of the possible complications and what to do at each stage is an important part of being more careful.
TAKING CARE OF MOM
The good news is that healthy older women generally have only a slightly increased risk of problems during pregnancy. Your age does not mean that you will definitely develop complications, it just means that there is a slightly higher chance. One possible complication is that during the first three months of pregnancy (the first trimester) the risk of miscarriage increases for older moms. During the second trimester, chances of developing high blood pressure and the possibility of bleeding increase. Pregnancy- induced diabetes may appear at this stage of the pregnancy as well, although it is usually resolved after giving birth. By the last trimester, the mother’s chances of going into premature labor are enhanced, as well as her chances of needing a Cesarean delivery.
For a healthy pregnancy, moms-to-be of all ages and especially women over 35 should follow some basic guidelines.
Before Trying to Conceive
• See your gynecologist for a check-up to identify any risk factors you may have and to get any existing medical problems under control.
• Consider genetic counseling, which can help determine whether you or your husband has a chromosomal abnormality that could be transferred to your child.
• Your gynecologist will probably prescribe a folic acid supplement to take while you are trying to conceive and during the first few months of pregnancy. Folic acid is a B vitamin that helps prevent birth defects of the brain and spinal cord.
• If you are regularly taking medication for any reason, tell your gynecologist, because you may require an adjustment in dose, a change of medication or elimination of the medicine altogether.
• Try to achieve your ideal weight before trying to conceive. Being overweight can cause problems during pregnancy.
• Early in your pregnancy, your gynecologist should ask for your full medical history. Early prenatal care should also include a physical exam to detect any unusual aspects of the pregnancy that might affect your health or the delivery, and routine blood and urine tests.
• Regular medical check-ups during your pregnancy, including monitoring of your blood pressure and the baby’s growth, will help identify any problems that require treatment.
• Eat a healthy diet including a variety of foods, especially those rich in folic acid, such as orange juice and leafy green vegetables. Take the vitamin and/or mineral supplements that your gynecologist prescribes.
• Maintain the recommended weight gain throughout the pregnancy.
• Do not smoke during pregnancy, drink alcoholic beverages, or use any medication at all (even cold medicine, for example), unless your doctor prescribes it.
• Get plenty of rest and the right kind and amount of exercise as specified by your doctor.
There are specific tests that are recommended for older moms-to-be.
LIFE AFTER HAVING BABY
Of course, there is a non-medical side to giving birth at a later age. Sometimes, the older a woman gets, the harder it becomes to handle a child. Having a baby needs care and patience, which may be easier for some women when they are younger.
However, other women feel that there are many advantages to having kids when they are older. They feel they are more relaxed and emphasize the more important things, such as enjoying their pregnancy, being relaxed during the delivery, enjoying the baby and developing the character of the child.