Written on 14 August 2018
Women who want to become mothers always have one thing at the back of their minds- the dreaded biological clock. What if you missed the bus for some reason in your twenties and early thirties but are now ready to be a mother? Is it safe to become pregnant after 35?
The good news is that many women in their late 30s and 40s, especially in this day and age, are becoming pregnant and having healthy babies. A late pregnancy also has definite positives. You are more financially secure, more experienced and mentally and emotionally ready for a child. Most late pregnancy issues can be avoided by consulting gynecologist or fertility specialist before you conceive.
Which complications are common in late pregnancies?
There are a number of complications that arise during a late pregnancy that need to be taken care of for the mother to get to a healthy delivery.
Complications from chronic health problems
Many women in their late 30s and 40s begin suffering from chronic health diseases like high blood pressure, heart and kidney problems, autoimmune diseases, and type 2 diabetes. These result in complications during pregnancy with higher risks of miscarriages, premature birth, low birth weight, and genetic disorders.
Problems in conceiving
This starts even before pregnancy. It is a known fact that fertility goes down after the age of 35 and it takes longer to conceive. As you get older, you have fewer and fewer eggs and it becomes more difficult for the sperm to fertilize the egg as well. In many cases, women have to use assisted reproductive technology. Such pregnancies are higher risk with a greater chance of a cesarean birth and have to be closely monitored.
Preeclampsia is a condition that is more common in pregnant women above the age of 40. It happens either right after pregnancy or after the 20th week of pregnancy. In this disease, a woman has high blood pressure and some organs like liver and kidneys don’t function optimally. Symptoms of preeclampsia include having protein in the urine, problems in vision and severe headaches.
How can you avoid these complications?
Luckily, a lot of these complications can be easily managed resulting in a healthy pregnancy and delivery.
Make sure your chronic illnesses are managed before pregnancy
It’s best to go to the doctor and make sure you are managing your chronic disorders even before conception. This will help you avoid unnecessary complications during your pregnancy. If you are not able to do so before pregnancy, do make it a point to do so in the early months of your pregnancy and go to an OB/GYN who is experienced in treating pregnant women with chronic diseases. A complete health checkup before conception is also a good idea, even if you don’t have any diagnosed chronic diseases.
While prenatal tests are recommended for all pregnant women they are especially important for older women due to the higher risk of genetic disorders for the baby. These can be done before conception as well to rule out chances of genetic diseases. Initial prenatal tests are screening tests which will only tell you if you are high risk or low risk for a disease. If you are found to be at a high risk for some diseases you can undertake diagnostic tests like amniocentesis and chorionic villus sampling to find out with certainty.
Prenatal vitamins, especially folic acid, is even more critical for women who are over 35 than for others. Prenatal vitamins should ideally be started before conception itself as folic acid helps prevent neural tube defects and the neural tube often starts developing even before the mother comes to know she is pregnant.
Get your lifestyle right
It’s very important to have a healthy lifestyle, especially if you’re pregnant later in life. Having the right diet and exercise routine will go a long way in mitigating pregnancy related complications. It’s important to gain the right amount of weight in a healthy way during pregnancy and get regular physical activity. It’s even better if you don’t wait till you’re pregnant and adopt a healthy lifestyle before conception. It goes without saying that smoking, alcohol and drugs should be avoided completed as they are especially risky for older women.
There is no substitute for self-care
Stress can be one of the biggest risk factors when you’re pregnant. Make sure you take time out small indulgences like a trip to the parlour or the movies or long walks with your partner or meditation. The happier you are the better it is for the life growing inside you.
With the right care and precaution, the complications related to a late pregnancy can be managed with relative ease.
All over the world, the average age of giving birth is becoming higher, and what matters most is the love, comfort and security you can give to your child at this stage.
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