Pregnancy After 35: The Journey of Late Maternity
By Dr. Nutan Pakhare
The journey of pregnancy can be exciting and transformational, but it is also filled with challenges and concerns. An important consideration is the mother’s age. Pregnancies after 35 have increased significantly in recent years, giving rise to the term “advanced maternal age.” This blog discusses the risks, advantages, and key considerations associated with a pregnancy beyond 35, as well as the potential risks associated with it. For instance, women over 35 are more likely to have babies with Down’s Syndrome or other chromosomal disorders compared to women under 35.
Trends and Statistics
Over the past few decades, women have become more likely to delay childbirth until their late thirties or early forties. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports a steady increase in birth rates among women aged 35-39 over the past decade. The birth rate for women aged 35-39 was at its highest level in over 50 years in 2019. Further, the birth rate for women aged 40-44 has also increased significantly.
Risks of Pregnancy after 35 (Advanced Maternal Age)
Even though many women in their late thirties and forties have healthy pregnancies and give birth to healthy babies, advanced maternal age carries certain risks. Among these risks are:
Fertility naturally declines with age for women. Fertility and the need for assisted reproductive technologies, such as in vitro fertilization (IVF), increase as the chances of becoming pregnant decrease.
Increased Risk of Chromosomal Abnormalities
The risk of chromosomal abnormalities, such as Down syndrome, increases with maternal age. Over time, both the quality and quantity of a woman’s eggs diminish.
Higher Pregnancy Complication Incidence
There is an increased likelihood of developing gestational diabetes, high blood pressure (preeclampsia), and placenta previa in women who are older than 35 years old. Both the mother and the baby may be affected by these conditions.
Increased Chance of Caesarean Section (C-section)
A C-section is more likely to be required in older women due to several factors, including increased chances of certain complications, such as placenta previa, and labor difficulties.
Advantages of Pregnancy after 35
While advanced maternal age carries some risks, it is also advantageous. As Monica Ali once wrote: “The thing about getting older is that you don’t need everything to be possible anymore, you just need things to be certain.” Here are a few of them:
Emotional and financial stability
It is often easier to raise a child for women in their thirties and forties, due to their greater emotional and financial stability. Generally, women in their thirties and forties have established careers and have more financial resources to provide for their children. They also have had more life experience and are more emotionally mature, which can help them to better handle the demands of parenting.
Established Careers and Support Systems
As a result of their well-established careers and strong support systems, older mothers have a better ability to navigate the challenges of motherhood. They often have more financial stability, more experience with parenting, and greater emotional maturity than younger mothers. They often have stronger support systems in place, with family and friends who can help and advice.
Personal Readiness and Maturity
With age, a mother’s life experiences, and personal growth contribute to her readiness and maturity, enabling her to parent more effectively.
Important Considerations for Pregnancy after 35
The following factors should be considered if you are planning a pregnancy after 35:
Preconception care and consultation with a healthcare professional are crucial. In addition to optimizing your health, they can address any existing medical conditions and ensure you are in the best shape possible for pregnancy. Preconception care can help identify any potential risks to the mother and baby, such as genetic disorders. It can advise on lifestyle changes to improve fertility. It can also help identify any nutritional deficiencies or underlying medical conditions that could affect the mother and baby’s health.
Prenatal Testing and Genetic Counselling
It may be necessary to get genetic testing and counselling due to the increased risk of chromosomal abnormalities. You can make informed decisions based on the results of these tests.
Healthy Lifestyle & Prenatal Yoga
Keeping a healthy lifestyle during and before pregnancy becomes even more important with increasing maternal age. These include a well-balanced diet, prenatal yoga, and exercise, and abstaining from harmful substances like tobacco and excessive alcohol.
Regular prenatal care
Prenatal check-ups are vital for monitoring your pregnancy progress and detecting potential complications early on. You will be guided through the necessary tests and screenings by your healthcare provider.
The experience of pregnancy after 35 has certain risks, but it can also be rewarding and fulfilling. Take proactive steps to mitigate risks by being aware of potential challenges. It is important to consult with healthcare professionals, maintain a healthy lifestyle, and be well-informed about the options available to ensure a safe and healthy pregnancy. It is important to remember that age should not be the only determining factor for becoming a mother; instead, it should be considered in conjunction with a person’s health, circumstances, and readiness for motherhood.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) – “Births: Final Data for 2019”: [https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/products/databriefs/db398.htm]
- American Pregnancy Association – “Pregnancy After 35”: [https://americanpregnancy.org/healthy-pregnancy/pregnancy-after-35/]
- Mayo Clinic – “Pregnancy after 35: Healthy moms, healthy babies”: [https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/getting-pregnant/in-depth/pregnancy/art-20045756]