To begin with, yes, many women over 35 have gone on to have very healthy babies and happy pregnancies. With that being said, being pregnant at that age is exciting and scary. Let’s be honest and say that at 35, we’re not a young spring chicken anymore. Our bodies will begin to go through changes that make pregnancy more difficult than at an earlier age.
First of all, according to the Mayo Clinic, it may take you longer to actually get pregnant. Every woman is born with a certain amount of eggs and as you age, that number declines. You may even ovulate less frequently even if your cycles are regular. Also, if you get pregnant after 35, the likelihood of having twins increases. The fact that many women use reproductive assistance is certainly a factor as well. Adding to this is the increased chance that older pregnant women are more likely to develop gestational diabetes. Even though this type of diabetes occurs only during pregnancy, it is very important for the expecting mother to control her sugar levels. If left untreated, this disease can cause the infant to grow abnormally large – which can potentially cause a difficult delivery.
Since older moms seem to have more complications during pregnancy, C-sections are more common too. There is a high risk of chromosomal abnormalities – such as present in Down syndrome. The same chromosomal abnormalities may be the reason that more miscarriages happen at this time as well.
What if the father is older – can his age affect the child?
Yes. As reported by the Mayo Clinic, research indicates that fathers age 40 or older are more likely to have autistic children than fathers under 30. Further, men over 50 tend to have babies with certain birth defects. Even a child’s cognitive abilities – like concentration, memory, reading, and reasoning skills –are affected up to 7 years of age if the father is older.
What can be done?
The following are basic tips to be used before and during your pregnancy:
• Make a preconception appointment.
• Seek regular prenatal care.
• Eat healthfully.
• Gain weight wisely.
• Stay physically active.