Women nowadays are having children later because they are focusing on their careers and pursuing advanced education degrees. According to studies conducted by the Pew Research Center, 15% of American women were having their first child after 35, in comparison to a mere 1% in 1970. Having children later in life may be more commonplace, but there are some added precautions that older mothers must take into consideration once they reach thirty-five years of age and older. Here is a list of some of the most common pregnancy concerns for this age group.
1. Having trouble conceiving
One of the biggest problems with having a baby when you are 35 or older, is that it will be harder to get pregnant in the first place. Fertility rates are highest for most women in their twenties and then start slowly declining once they turn thirty. Once your turn 35, your fertility rate decrease rapidly. The average women can have a baby until she is 41, but there is no guarantee. If you are wanting to get pregnant and are in your mid-thirties or older, it is best to schedule a pre-conceptual counseling appointment before you try to get pregnant to weigh the risks and see what is the best route for you, since every woman’s body is different.
2. More likely to have a baby born with Down Syndrome
According to the National Institute of Health (NIH), if you get pregnant at 25, the likelihood of having a baby with down syndrome is 1,250, whereas if you get pregnant at 40, your chances are 1 in 100. Your risk goes up each year as you get older and having a baby born with Down syndrome or a number of other chromosomal issues is a very real concern for older mothers. To get a better understanding of your risks of having a child with a mental or physical disability, genetic testing can help reveal whether this will likely be a reality for your particular situation.
3. Higher risk of having gestational diabetes
The older you get, the more likely you are to be at risk for developing diabetes during your pregnancy. This type of diabetes is risky, because it can go undiagnosed and can cause numerous serious health issues for both you and your baby. Complications from this condition can be life-threatening, including early birth and respiratory distress syndrome, where a baby has trouble breathing on its own. Gestational diabetes usually do not have noticeable symptoms, so it is important to consult with your primary doctor before and during your pregnancy to monitor your blood sugar and any complications that may arise.
4. More likely to deliver through cesarean section
The older you are when you give birth, the more likely you are to deliver your baby through cesarean section (C-section). According to a study featured in Web MD, 40% of first-time moms had a C-section. A C-section is the delivery of a baby by creating a surgical incision in the woman’s uterus and abdomen. This method of delivery is riskier than a natural vaginal birth and is only done if there are foreseen complications or an emergency during the birth. It is important as an older mother to keep careful tabs on your baby and your body throughout your pregnancy and monitor any issues that may require a C-section.
5. Higher risk of having a baby that is stillborn
One of the risks of having a child when you are older is the slight chance of having a stillborn baby. This risk is due to the fact that older mother can have underlying medical issues that are common in women in this age group. It is therefore important to get all the important tests before you become pregnant to ensuring a healthy pregnancy.
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