For the last two or three decades , women over 35 have been having healthy and successful pregnancies and giving birth to healthy babies with no birth defects, despite conventional wisdom suggesting that pregnancy should take place before that time.
The number of women who get pregnant after 40 is increasing every day, and physicians have found that women over 40 are perfectly capable of having a healthy pregnancy, labor and delivery, although the risk of complications do increase somewhat as a woman gets older.
The National Center for Health Statistics says that the percentage of women conceiving in their thirties and forties began to increase in 1970 and has not stopped since then, thanks to the advances and discoveries in the medical field as well as many women holding off on family planning until their careers were well established.
Fertility does decrease significantly with age, and if you are between 40 and 44, your risks for complications during pregnancy are higher than women between 35 and 39, and double the risk over women under 35.
Being aware of potential problems during the different stages of pregnancy is the first step in a happy, healthy, older pregnancy. The most common problem is known as Downs syndrome and is a result of a chromosomal defect, most common in older mothers.
Other complications can be the obvious result of your age, such as problems conceiving since female fertility begins to decrease when a woman turns 30, and those arising as consequences of health problems such as diabetes, high blood pressure, etc. Pre-existing medical conditions can lead you to preterm labor or preeclampsia, a condition that affects both you and your unborn baby. Some diseases may develop along with your pregnancy, even if you are normally a perfectly healthy woman.
Generally speaking, you do not need special prenatal care just because you are over a certain age, unless your obstetrician detects a potential health problem during the early stage of your pregnancy. First-time mothers can have complications during labor, or it labor might be more a bit more difficult than labor for younger woman.
After 35, it is more likely that you will undergo cesarean surgery, and the older you are, the higher risk of c-section you face. With the benefits of amniocentesis during pregnancy your chances of complications including c-section lowers.
Once you decide to get pregnant after age 40, planning your pregnancy is your best aid to prevent complications at any stage. A gynecologist or obstetrician can determine your medical condition, and suggest immunizations or medications to increase your chances to give birth to a healthy baby and stay healthy yourself.
While there is in fact a higher incidence of pregnancy and labor complications in “older mothers”, I have to wonder if the higher rates are due to legitimate concerns or as a result of unnecessary testing done via the scare tactics of telling women they are “high risk”.
It is totally absurd to automatically label women as “high risk” just because they have hit the arbitrary age of 35. It is ridiculous to suggest that a 36 year old woman will have a significant increase in pregnancy and labor complications compared to a 34 year old.
I believe it is just another way for the unscrupulous obstetricians and midwives to line their pockets further with unnecessary and dangerous testing and it also allows them to manage the childbirth further by making the mother more compliant because she wants to protect her baby from her “high risk” body.
If you are a healthy woman, over 35, who stays in shape, eats well and avoids toxins then there is a good chance that you are a hell of a lot healthier than most 25 year olds out there who eat potato chips, guzzle booze and watch TV day after day. Do the normal prenatal care, keep an eye on your sugar levels, protein in your urine, blood pressure and weight. Eat a healthy diet, and practice prenatal yoga to prepare for pregnancy and childbirth.
Don’t let your personal fearmonger talk you into tests such as CVS or Amniocentisis that could actually miscarry your pregnancy just because you are not the ideal age. Don’t let them talk you into inducing labor because you are over 35 (ie: “high risk”). That does not even resemble a legitimate reason. Whatever you do, don’t let them talk you into filleting you like a salmon just because you are “high risk”.
If you are over 35 and want to have a baby then go for it. Sure there are some additional factors to consider but do not let that cloud your judgment or allow others to bully you into doing things to your body or your baby that you know in your gut are wrong.
Buy the book: Older Mothers: Conception, Pregnancy and Birth after 35
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