Pregnancy after 35 – Risks and Ways to Overcome Challenges

Pregnancy after 35 – Risks and Ways to Overcome Challenges

Getting pregnant can be a difficult task for many, and when it comes to conceiving after 35, then the things can become more complicated. Yes, today’s lifestyle which is education and career-oriented might allure you to delay your motherhood, but we are bound by the biological clock of nature.

Conceiving over the age of 35 can be either full of challenge or joy, riddled with many questions in mind. Though there may be benefits of delaying pregnancy, but risks outweigh the benefits by a large margin. But despite challenges, many women can successfully become proud moms after 35.

Woman's Age and Fertility

First and foremost, women of all ages (even men) can face fertility issues. But since we are restricted by the biological clock of nature, the most fertile period for a woman is in her 20s. Steadily, fertility began to decline after the age of 30. This means your likelihood of getting pregnant is not as good as it was in your 20s.

Fertility of a woman starts to decline rapidly after the age of 37. The term geriatric pregnancy is a medical term that was used by expert long time back for pregnant women aged over 35. But today, many researches, as well as Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), says that the number of pregnancies occurring in between 35 and 39 age group has increased.

So the definition of geriatric pregnancy is changing with the time. Instead, the medical experts are using the term ‘advanced maternal’ age for pregnant women aged 35 and above. By the age (10-14) a woman reaches puberty, there are about 3-5 lakhs eggs in her ovaries. From this large number, hardly 300 will become mature and released via ovaries during ovulation process.

Many people have a misunderstanding that fertility declines around menopause, but it’s not true. A woman’s reproductive capabilities start to decline much earlier.

Risks of pregnancy after 35

Just because the researches show that pregnancies are increasing in the advanced maternal age, does not mean you will successfully give birth. There is a world of difference between getting pregnant and delivering a healthy child.

The rates of miscarriages are high in older mothers. It is estimated that about 35 percent pregnant women aged between 35 and 45 would experience a miscarriage. There are several other risks of late pregnancy. These include:

Longer time in conceiving

Every woman of reproductive age tries hard to boost her chances of getting pregnant, especially those who are above 35. As women are born with a limited number of eggs, after passing 30 years mark, the quality, as well as the quantity, begins to decline.

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Chances of getting gestational diabetes

This is a type of diabetes which affects a woman only during pregnancy. There are many complications associated with gestational diabetes such as excessive birth weight of the baby, getting type 2 diabetes in future, etc. So the late you conceive, the more are the chances of getting gestational diabetes.

Multiple pregnancies

Hormones play a vital role deciding your pregnancy. In an older woman, hormones tend to release multiple eggs at the same time. As a result, you may have high chances of getting multiple pregnancies, which too is associated with several risks.

High blood pressure

There are several studies which suggest that pregnant women aged over 35 have a higher risk of getting high blood pressure during pregnancy. This can cause life-threatening complications.

Giving birth to a premature baby

Women who are in advanced maternal age might also give birth to low weight babies. Premature babies can face a lot of medical problems later in life.

Chromosomal abnormalities

Older age pregnancy also increases the chances of inflicting genetic problems such as Down syndrome. At the age 25, 1 in 1250 pregnant women will give birth to a baby with Down syndrome. This increases to 1 in 378 babies if a woman gets pregnant after 35. At age 40, the rate increases to 1 in 100 cases. Chromosomal defects usually occur due to abnormal egg division which results in uneven distribution of chromosomes.

Cesarean delivery

Women who get pregnant in advanced maternal age could be a likely candidate for c-section delivery. This occurs due to pregnancy complications such as placenta previa.

Stillbirth

Women who conceive after 35 have a higher risk of losing pregnancy either through miscarriage or through stillbirth.

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What can a woman do to overcome the challenges of becoming pregnant after 35?

First of all, if you are over 35 and want to become pregnant, you must consult a doctor since age is not the only criteria to judge how well your pregnancy would complete its course. There could be other underlying health problems of which you are completely unaware of.

Pregnancy over 35 can be completely safe. So there is no need to put yourself in fear and anxiety that might cause depression and stress. The doctor would advise you to:

  • Start exercising regularly
  • Eat a healthy well-balanced diethigh in starch and fiber
  • Maintain appropriate weight before getting pregnant
  • Avoid risky stuffs such as smoking and alcohol
  • Take prenatal supplements containing vitamins and folic acid
  • Avoid any medication unless recommended
  • Limit caffeine consumption

If you have become pregnant after 35, you would be under close monitoring. The doctor would suggest some regular antenatal test which would be done during pregnancy in order to avoid any complications. 

These would include:

  1. Ultrasound – This imaging technique depicts visuals of the womb by generating high-frequency sound waves.
  2. Nuchal translucency screening – This scan is often performed on women who are 10-14 weeks pregnant. This test evaluates the chances of your baby getting Down syndrome.
  3. Amniocentesis – A tiny amount of amniotic fluid is extracted to identify birth defects. It also checks for disorders such as cystic fibrosis, sickle cell anemia, Down syndrome, muscular dystrophy and neural tube defects in the baby.
  4. Dual, triple and quadruple marker test – These tests check level of hormones in the blood and are often recommended between 16-18 weeks of pregnancy. According to an estimate, these tests can detect 85 percent of neural tube defects and 65 percent cases of Down syndrome.
  5. Chorionic villus sampling – Known as CVS testing, sample cells or tiny parts of the placenta (chorionic villi) are taken to check for certain risk factors such as birth defects.

Becoming pregnant after 35 has certain benefits as well. The older aged mom would be more mature and well equipped to handle the baby carefully than a young mother. But women should not ignore the biological clock and must be aware of the risks related to delaying motherhood. The earlier it is done; the better and happier would be your family.