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Getting Pregnant in Later Years


Fortunately for most older women who have a baby, pregnancy and birth is healthy thanks to advances in modern medicine and technology. However, if you're over the age of 35, you could be at an increased risk of complications. If you already suffer from high blood pressure or heart disease, pregnancy could worsen your condition. It's also common for older women to have babies with a lower birth weight, or that are premature. Your risk of miscarriage or having a stillborn baby also increases once you reach 35.

It can even be difficult for older women to conceive. Your periods may be more irregular, and you may need to enlist the help of fertility doctors if you want to get pregnant. The most common problems in pregnancies in women over 35 are genetic abnormalities, such as Down's Syndrome. Your risk for having a baby with Down's Syndrome dramatically increases once you reach 35, and again when you reach 40 or older. Other defects such as Tay-Sachs are also more prevalent in babies born to women who are over 35.

If you do conceive after age 35, your doctor will want you to undergo prenatal testing. These tests can determine fetal complications, and are routine in older women. You will be advised to have an amniocentesis, which does carry a small risk of miscarriage. An ultrasound can often show abnormalities in as early as eight weeks, and are done more frequently if you're over 35.

It doesn't matter what ethnic group you're from women of every race are at risk for these abnormalities if they choose to have a baby after age 35. Your doctor will recommend genetic counseling in many cases, and will give you an idea of the risk factor of your baby having certain defects or abnormalities. If an abnormality is found, it will be up to you and your partner if you want to continue with the pregnancy or terminate it.

If you're over the age of 35 and want to have a child, you should see your doctor if your attempts to conceive have been unsuccessful after six months. Although your odds of having a healthy pregnancy are almost as good as a 25 year old, you need to be aware that there are many more complications and abnormalities that you're at risk for if you give birth later in life.

 


 
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