Nowadays more and more women decide to give birth to the first child at the age of 35 and more. Some researchers associate this trend with the development of early prenatal diagnostic technologies, which gives families confidence in the birth of a healthy child. Over the past 25 years, the number of women who became pregnant at the age of 35-40 years, increased by 90%. Over the years, medicine has accumulated significant information about the features of pregnancy and childbirth in the late reproductive period. So, now pregnancy after 35 doesn’t surprise. But what are the challenges that the future mother will face in this case?
Is It Harder to Get Pregnant after 35 Years?
Unfortunately, yes, it is. In women over 35 years of age, ovulation occurs less frequent. If before 30-35 years ovulation occurs every (or almost every) month, then at 35 years ovulation takes place only a few times a year.
What’s more, in women older than 35 years, there is a higher risk of disorders that prevent pregnancy: obstruction of the fallopian tubes, endometriosis, and uterine myoma.
The ability to conceive begins to gradually decline after 30 years. It’s connected with:
- a decrease in the number of ovulatory cycles;
- increased incidence of endometriosis;
- increased probability of tubal infertility;
- high frequency of extragenital diseases.
The Course of Pregnancy After 35 Years
Women over 35 years old automatically fall into the risk group for the development of pregnancy pathology. However, the statistics show that if the future mother takes care of herself and has good health, then her pregnancy can proceed as successfully as at 20 years. At the same time, everything is not so easy. What are the dangers of pregnancy after 35?
High risk of miscarriage
Statistics on gynecology says that in women up to the age of 30, the threat of miscarriage is only 10%. With age this figure grows to 17%, and after 39 years to 44%. This percentage growth is associated with the deterioration of the health of the female body, in particular the reproductive system.
A high level of risk of development of placental problems
Here we speak about the problems with presentation and a high probability of premature placental abruption.
The threat of exacerbation of chronic diseases
As a rule, exacerbations occur precisely against the background of pregnancy. And this is quite natural, because pregnancy is an additional burden on the entire body. As a result, there is a decrease in protective forces. Most often there are problems with the kidneys, arterial tension and gastrointestinal tract. During pregnancy at the age of forty and older, the development of diabetes mellitus is a common occurrence, leading to pre-eclampsia, stillbirth, premature birth and placental complications.
High risk of multiple pregnancies
According to statistical studies, the age between thirty-five and forty is peak for conception of twins. At this age, multiple pregnancy, as a rule, leads to ruptures during childbirth and bleeding.
A high probability of caesarean section
A cesarean section is done in 40% of all late pregnancies.
In pregnancy after 35 there are also risks for the child
Here are some of them:
- too small, unviable fetal weight;
- premature delivery;
- a high risk of hypoxia during labor;
- sufficient number of chances for chromosomal abnormalities of fetal development.
But this is just statistics and probability. Despite them, many women at the age of 35 and more give birth to healthy children with normal development. The level of modern medicine allows finding out about possible complications in advance and take timely preventive measures. Psychology claims that, a woman’s conscious attitude to pregnancy and her great desire to have children successfully prevents all pathologies, helps her to go through all the risky moments and overcome fears. And in general, most of the late children are born healthy, smart and successful in life.
Is It True that After 35 years the Risk of Having a Child with Down’s Syndrome Is Higher?
Yes it’s true. Women over 35 have a higher risk of having a child with different chromosomal abnormalities: Down’s syndrome, Edwards’ syndrome, etc.
At the same time the age of the man (the father of the child) is not important. In men the risk of chromosomal diseases, such as Down’s syndrome, does not increase with the age.
The biggest problem with late pregnancy is the relatively high probability of having a child with a genetic abnormality. This tendency is associated, above all, with the aging of the sex cells and the accumulation of genetic mutations in the mother’s body. Over the years, harmful effects of various teratogenic and mutagenic factors are accumulated in the body: toxic products, ionizing radiation and others.
Pregnant women of the older age group have a higher risk of premature birth and small weight of the baby, which reduces the adaptive potential of the newborn.
How to Increase the Chances of Pregnancy after 35 Years?
If you are just planning a pregnancy, visit your gynecologist or family planning center along with your partner. The doctor will give valuable recommendations based on your health status. This is especially important if you or your partner has chronic illnesses.
If a woman decides to give birth to a child after 35 years, she should undergo a series of examinations: amniocentesis, ultrasound examination, determination of alfa-fetoprotein and a chorionic villus sampling. Having received the data of full studies, doctors make appropriate conclusions about the growth and development of the fetus in the uterus.
Often, doctors recommend women at 35 years of age to make a mammogram. If you do this before conception, you can avoid worries about the presence of cancer and tumor formations in your body. Take advantage of health-improving procedures and get rid of bad habits.
Clearly understand – if you want to give birth to a child at the age of 35, before conception you need to objectively assess your health. Tell yourself honestly – are you ready for pregnancy after 35? Are you ready to deal with possible exacerbations of diseases such as diabetes, hypertension, complications with the liver and kidneys? During the course of pregnancy there might be other problems. With pregnancy after 35 a cesarean section is necessary more often. The probability of more complicated delivery increases.
If you are over 35, and you want to give birth, then you can help yourself! Take care of your health before pregnancy. Do not be afraid of difficulties, because with the right approach, pregnancy after 35 years can go without complications. Women after 35 can surely give birth to perfectly healthy babies. What’s more, it’s clear that difficulties with pregnancy can be as at 20, as at 40 years.
Pros of Pregnancy After 35 and Late Motherhood
It is proved that a physiologically optimal term for labor comes around the age of 22. At the same time, psychologically and emotionally a woman becomes ready for motherhood only about 10 years later, i.e., around 30-35 years. Maybe that’s why women who become pregnant and give birth to a child after 30-35 years, perceive their condition more positively, get depressed less often and pay more attention to the bearing and education of the baby.
There is also an opinion that late pregnancy and late birth rejuvenate a woman. And the reason for this is the production of hormones of “pregnancy”, mainly estrogen. It tones the muscle tissue up, gives it elasticity, strengthens the bones and reduces the risk of hypertension. Pregnancy after 35 and lactation is indeed, even physiologically, the time of a woman’s second youth.
There are other advantages concerning pregnancy after 35. The menopause passes easier or may occur later. The aging process is less painful. In addition, late labor can reduce the level of cholesterol, the risk of stroke or osteoporosis. Infections of the urinary tract occur less as well.
Cons of Pregnancy After 35
- First of all, keep in mind that it might be difficult to get pregnant at such age.
- There are documented data that after 35 years the ability to conceive a baby is gradually decreasing. It may take 6-12 months to get pregnant. But the greatest danger for a woman of older age is associated with the birth of a child with genetic abnormalities. Statistics show that for a 40-year-old woman, the risk of giving birth to a child with Down’s disease is 9 times greater than for a 30-year-old woman.
- Complications with health during pregnancy and childbirth.
- There is a higher risk of problems with endometriosis and fibroids, which can affect fertility and pregnancy.
- The complications arising during late pregnancy and late delivery are often associated with inadequate hormone production and tissue modification. Such complications as premature or delayed pregnancy, toxicosis of the second half of pregnancy (gestosis), premature discharge of amniotic fluid, weakness of labor, placental abruption and pathological condition of the fetus require medical intervention and can have very serious consequences for the health of the mother and the child. The likelihood of miscarriage increases as well.
- Such a serious condition as fetal hypoxia, which in most cases requires the Caesarean section, appears 7 times more often. The number of indications for cesarean section in women after 35 is generally higher. This is due to the fact that by the age of 40 the tissues of the female body are becoming less elastic.
- In addition, there might be problems in the postpartum period, such as bleeding and infection. Difficulties with lactation and breastfeeding are common as well.
- Recovery takes more time.
- Some women find it difficult to get used to the requirements associated with caring for a child, because they used to take care only of themselves.