Is it ok for me to have a baby at age 35 or older?

So, you’re 35 or older, comfortable in your career, and getting the “itch” to have a baby? Well, there are a few things you need to consider.  Just as you have carefully planned your life thus far, particular consideration should be given to planning a baby.

For the best pregnancy results, women should adopt a healthy lifestyle of eating a nutritious diet, exercising regularly and successfully managing any chronic health conditions.  Diabetes and high blood pressure are often exacerbated during pregnancy, so should be controlled as much as possible prior to and during pregnancy, by maintaining healthy habits and obtaining prenatal care. If you are overweight or obese, you should try to lose weight as excess weight is associated with a higher risk of pregnancy complications.  Additionally, women trying to get pregnant should incorporate folic acid supplements into their dietary routine.

To increase the chances of having a baby, women 35 years or older should consult an obstetrician. Given your age of 35 years or older, you may experience more difficulty conceiving than younger women. The eggs of women 35 or older are fewer and may not be as healthy. If you are having trouble conceiving, there are options of in vitro fertilization (IVF) and assisted reproduction that might help.

Despite how young and healthy you might otherwise feel, women age 35 or older who become pregnant do so at a medically defined “advanced maternal age.” Research shows that pregnancies for women 35 or older have higher associated risks of conceiving twins, developing gestational diabetes, experiencing pregnancy induced hypertension, preterm labor or miscarriage.  Also, women 35 years or older are more likely to have babies with birth defects, low birth weight or be stillborn. Given the increased risk, particularly the risk of birth defects caused by chromosomal abnormalities, several additional tests are required for women age 35 or older. Specifically, at age 35, a woman’s risk of developing the chromosomal abnormality that causes Downs Syndrome dramatically increases. Thus, women 35 and older begin early in pregnancy undergoing prenatal tests of ultrasounds and blood screens to detect placenta location and amount of amniotic fluid around the baby as well as any developmental problems of the brain, spinal cord or central nervous system. In later stages of pregnancy, more invasive genetic testing such as chorionic villus sampling (CVS) and amniocentesis are often recommended.  Each procedure tests for birth defects and is accompanied with genetic counseling to assess family history and to explain the risks and benefits associated with the procedures.

Despite the pronounced risks, many women are opting to wait to age 35 or older to have a baby. For many, the benefits of a secure financial state with intact career and education, marriage or relationship, and confidence in childrearing, outweigh the possible harms.  Thus, women 35 or older should plan effectively, enhance their health prior to and during pregnancy, and engage in prenatal care that is essential to a healthy pregnancy and childbirth. Women 35 years or older are regularly pursuing a happy and healthy pregnancy and child rearing experience complete with health education and lifestyle modification that ensures a healthy baby and Mom.



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