Getting Pregnant Over 35: Risks, Tips, and What to Expect
Published on 02/04/22
If you’re considering pregnancy after the age of 35, you’re in good company. Women hoping to get pregnant after the age of 35 are very common. There’s nothing specific about 35 that makes the biological clock tick louder, it is simply an age where discussing various risks moves to the forefront of the conception conversation. For future mothers, understanding the risks and knowing what it takes to have a healthy pregnancy can benefit you and your future family planning.
Understanding The Risks
It’s important to understand the risks associated with pregnancy after age 35. Remember that the likelihood of these risks increase as a women gets older:
- High blood pressure – studies have shown that developing high blood pressure is more common in pregnant women over the age of 35. Having high blood pressure during pregnancy could mean that your baby may need to be delivered before its due date to avoid complications.
- Gestational diabetes – this type of diabetes is more common in pregnant women as they age. Gestational diabetes can be controlled through diet and physical activity, but if left untreated can result in a higher birth weight for babies. This increases the chances of premature birth, high blood pressure during pregnancy and/or complications in the infant after they’ve been delivered.
- Premature birth or low birth weight – premature babies can have complicated medical issues.
- The likelihood of a multiple pregnancy – due to hormonal changes, older women have the capability of releasing multiple eggs at the same time. This means the chance of having twins increases with age. Multiple pregnancies are also possible with assisted reproductive technologies such as in vitro fertilization.
- Chromosome abnormalities – older mothers have a higher risk of some chromosome abnormalities such as Down syndrome.
- Pregnancy loss – the risk of stillbirth and miscarriage increases for older mothers. This could be because of an increased risk of medical conditions.
- It may take longer to get pregnant – as women get older, the number of eggs and the quality of their eggs decreases. Each woman is born with a limited number of eggs that become harder to fertilize as they get older.
- C-section is more common – there’s a higher risk for pregnancy complications that could develop into the need for a C-section delivery.
In addition to the risks an older mother might face, some studies suggest the age of the man at the time of conception could also hold some risk for the child.
Difficulties Conceiving After 35
Less frequent ovulation is one of the most common reasons women over 35 have trouble conceiving. As women age, the quantity and quality of their eggs begins to decline and they begin to have menstrual cycles where they may never release an egg. Once the number of eggs begins to decrease, there’s no way to increase the number of eggs she produces. However, there are ways to improve the quality of the eggs. Talk to your doctor about improving egg quality and ovarian function with referred supplementation.
- Scar tissue from infection or surgery
- Chronic health problems like diabetes
- Decreased cervical fluid
- Uterine disorders
Taking care of yourself before trying to conceive contributes to a healthy newborn as well. Here are some ways caring for yourself can increase your chances for getting pregnant:
- Eat Healthy and Stay Active – it’s important for your overall health to eat a balanced diet, however in addition to your daily needs, pregnancy will demand more essential nutrients like folic acid, calcium, iron, vitamin D, etc. Try to avoid unnecessary sugars and cut back on overconsumption of caffeine. In addition to eating well, regular physical activity is not only good for your overall health but can also prepare your body for childbirth. Talk to your doctor about an active regimen that fits your lifestyle, especially if you have any underlying medical conditions.
- Proper Weight – Being overweight or underweight can affect your chances of getting pregnant. Gaining weight is a necessary part of pregnancy, and gaining the right amount of weight, in the right amount of time, can support your baby’s development and overall health. It also makes it easier to shed pounds after pregnancy. Talk to your healthcare provider about what the proper pregnancy weight gain is for you and your baby.
- Avoid Drugs, Alcohol – It’s best to avoid alcohol, tobacco, and any illegal drugs, especially during pregnancy. For any additional medications, talk to your doctor about safety and regulation.
- Make A Preconception Appointment – discussing your current overall health with your doctor can allow you to identify any lifestyle changes that could help improve your chances of becoming pregnant. A preconception appointment can also help alleviate any concerns you might be having about pregnancy by talking them over with your doctor.
- Get Regular Prenatal Care – once you conceive, regular prenatal visits help your health care provider monitor you and your baby’s health and development. Seeking prenatal care can also help put your mind at ease during pregnancy by addressing any concerns you may have.
- Learn About Prenatal Testing – as a woman ages, her risk of having a baby with birth defects increases too. There are many different prenatal tests that you can discuss with your doctor. One type of test, a cell-free DNA screening, requires a blood sample from the mother to detect chromosomal abnormalities, mainly Down syndrome.
When it comes to pregnancy over the age of 35, age isn’t the only factor that affects conception. Your lifestyle and daily choices can work against you. Consider the lasting effects of healthier choices, not just for you, but also for your baby. Feeling healthier can help you prepare for the exciting changes ahead. Because it can take women in their late 30s longer to conceive (sometimes 1 to 2 years), try to stay positive throughout the process!
What To Expect When Expecting
You’re over 35 and pregnant. Great! Now what? All doctors would recommend any pregnant woman do their best to be healthy: eat well, exercise and avoid harmful habits. Although the pregnancy journey for women over 35 is a bit more cautious, the protocols listed above and advice from your doctor can help lower your risks. Age alone is not a major factor contributing to high-risk pregnancies, rather, it’s the lifestyle choices surrounding that age that can have a greater effect on the outcome.
Just remember: If you’re over 35 and generally healthy, your pregnancy should be too!
If You’re Over 35 And Looking To Get Pregnant, call Rosh Maternal & Fetal Medicine In NY
During this time, it helps knowing you have the best prenatal care delivered by compassionate experts who understand your challenges. We know you’ll receive this type of exceptional high-risk pregnancy care from the team at Rosh Maternal & Fetal Medicine. If you have any concerns about your pregnancy, call their office in the Midtown East area of New York City, or schedule an appointment online for a high-risk pregnancy consult.