The Later Reproductive Years
They say that age is nothing but a number, when it comes to having a baby past the age of 35, (unfortunately) it’s one that we need to pay more attention to. This month we highlight the “later” reproductive years, what to expect, and how to ensure your health for, what many argue, is the most fulfilling time of your life.
Pregnancy after Age 35
If you’re older than age 35 and hoping to get pregnant, you’re in good company. Many women are delaying pregnancy well into their 30s and beyond. While the increased career, relationship and economic stability creates a strong platform from which to build a family in the mid to late 30s, the reality is that the biological clock is not in synchronicity with that reproductive timeline. It’s important to understand the risks.
It might take longer to get pregnant. Women are born with a limited number of eggs; as they reach their mid- to late 30s, eggs decrease in both quantity and quality.
Chances of having multiples are higher. Chances of having twins increases with age due to hormonal changes that could cause multiple eggs to be released at the same time. The use of assisted reproductive technologies — such as in vitro fertilization — can also play a role.
Gestational diabetes is more likely. This type of diabetes is more common as women get older. Untreated, it can cause a baby to grow significantly larger than average, increasing the risk of injury during delivery. It can also increase the risk of premature birth, high blood pressure, and complications to an infant after delivery.
High blood pressure during pregnancy is more likely. Research suggests high blood pressure during pregnancy is more common in older women. More frequent obstetric appointments may be needed, along with an early delivery to avoid complications.
Prematurity and low birth weight are more common birth outcomes. Premature babies, especially those born earliest, often have complicated medical problems.
You might need a C-section. Older mothers have a higher risk of pregnancy-related complications that might lead to a C-section delivery.
The risk of chromosome abnormalities is higher. Babies born to older mothers have a higher risk of certain chromosomal problems, such as Down syndrome.
The risk of pregnancy loss is higher. The risk of pregnancy loss — by miscarriage and stillbirth — increases as women get older, perhaps due to pre-existing medical conditions or fetal chromosomal abnormalities.
Despite these challenges, there are ways that women can ensure their health and that of their future baby. While there are a number of steps women can take during pregnancy, it’s perhaps most important for women to think about their own health before even conceiving. Visiting and talking to a health care provider about any health issues and/or lifestyle changes can help with that. For more information about preparing for a healthy pregnancy after 35, visit the Mayo Clinic website.
As women, our health is about more than just having babies. H ealthy aging — a term not just used to describe the health of senior citizens — means not waiting to address health concerns until you’re in a later age bracket. Taking interest in your health should always be of importance, and setting good health habits during your 30s and 40s, will prove beneficial once you become an older adult.
Health in your 30s
Your 30s are a prime time to start paying closer attention to the habits you’re forming and how they may impact your health. Whatever negative health habits you have today, can be detrimental for your health in later years of life. Joan Raymond, a health and wellness writer for the Today Show elaborates on the biggest health mistakes women in their 30s can make. Although all women have their own unique health concerns, there are some preventive health screenings to consider in your 30s. For a list of screenings as well as helpful questions to ask a health care professional, view Healthy Women‘s tips for women in their 30s.
Health in your 40s
Your 40s can be a transitioning decade for a lot of women, as menopause effects a large majority during this time. You may start to experience changes with your body and new concerns may arise. View Healthy Women‘s tips for women in their 40s for information related to what to expect in your 40s and how to differentiate between what is considered “normal” aging and what’s not.
Aging is Inevitable
We all know that aging is inevitable, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that we have to have feel our age. No matter the number of candles on your next birthday cake (or parenting status), remember to take care of yourself and live each day to the fullest.