Few if any women in their late 30s or early 40s think of themselves as old — or worse "geriatric." Yet their pregnancies could technically be classified using this word or the term "advanced maternal age." Fortunately, many women go on to have healthy pregnancies and babies despite the number of candles on their cake. To increase the odds of this, it's important to receive proper prenatal care and know the risks.
At Habersham OBGYN in Demorest, Georgia Dr. Thomas Hatchett and our midwife nurse practitioner Britteny Barron provide patient-centered personalized care for a variety of female health concerns. We do everything from helping you navigate your pregnancy and childbirth journey to providing preventive services, menopause management, and diagnosing and treating reproductive health conditions.
The average age a woman has her first child has been rising for the past 40 years. While it can be more difficult to get pregnant as fertility decreases with age, many are having babies in their late 30s and 40s.
Very often, pregnancies in women over the age of 35 are successful and uneventful. However, it's important to be aware of the ways the pregnancy is higher risk and therefore why careful monitoring by a health professional is even more crucial.
Preeclampsia typically develops after the 20th week of pregnancy and can include high blood pressure, high levels of protein in the urine that could mean damage to the kidneys, and possibly other indications of organ damage.
Gestational diabetes is diabetes first diagnosed during pregnancy. It results in high blood sugar that can cause issues for the pregnancy and the health of the baby.
The existence of chromosomal abnormalities that could result in a number of birth defects increases with the mother's age. While a woman who is 25 years old has a one in 1,250 chance of a baby with Down Syndrome, a woman at 40 carries a risk of 1 in 100.
Pregnancies over age 35 can also lead to a number of other challenges. There is an increased risk of the baby being born prematurely and being smaller. In addition, pregnancy-related problems that could lead to a C-section are more common. Miscarriage or stillbirth is also more likely to occur perhaps due to preexisting medical conditions or chromosomal issues with the baby.
While the risks of a 35+ year old pregnancy may be higher, there are plenty of actions to help encourage a healthy pregnancy. These include scheduling a preconception appointment before even getting pregnant and following a regular schedule of prenatal care. Eating healthy, staying active, and avoiding alcohol, tobacco, and illegal drugs is also important. Parents-to-be may want to educate themselves about prenatal screening and testing options for chromosomal conditions as well.
Whether you're over 35 and thinking about getting pregnant or already have a baby on board, we can help you navigate this important milestone. Call our office for an appointment today or book one online.