What You Need to Know About Pregnancy after 35

It is very common for women to wait until later in life to have children. Either they don’t find a partner until then and/or they choose to pursue their career before they settle down to have a family. Either way, the number of women who have their first baby later in life has increased significantly. The article “Babies Later in Life” on iParenting states that the number of women having their first baby between the ages 30-39 has doubled in the past 15 years. Women over the age of 40 having their first baby has increased by 50%.

This is important because there are special considerations for a woman when she has a baby over the age of 35. The first of these considerations is that a woman’s fertility begins to decline at around the age of 30. This means that by the age of 35, it can be more difficult to become pregnant as ovulation becomes unpredictable and erratic. It also becomes more possible for a woman to release two eggs during one ovulation and this means she will conceive fraternal twins.

When a woman who is age 35 or older decides to have a baby, her pre-pregnancy health is of the utmost importance, more so than if she were younger. Pregnancy over the age of 35 entails far more risks than pregnancy in younger women. Think about it like this. Females are born with all of their eggs. The eggs don’t form as women grow up or when they hit puberty. Every egg is already in a female’s ovaries when she is born. As the girl turns into a woman and the woman ages, so do the eggs. Over time, some of the aging eggs can become damaged or develop problems.

One of the risks with older eggs is the higher chance of a baby being born with chromosomal abnormalities. Down syndrome is one of the most common of these chromosomal abnormalities. The chances for younger women to have a Down syndrome baby are 1 in 1250. Once a woman reaches age 35, her chances are 1 in 378. By age 45, a woman’s chances of having a Down syndrome baby are 1 in 30! The chances of a baby with birth defects being born to an older mother increases as well.

Pregnancy itself is riskier when a woman is older. There is a higher risk that there will be complications. There is a higher risk of the mother having gestational diabetes, high blood pressure (known as preeclampsia), and vaginal bleeding. It is also more common for there to be problems with the placenta, placing both mother and baby at risk.

Of course, even with the higher risks, there are many, many mothers over the age of 35 who have happy healthy deliveries and babies. Having a baby when you are older does have its advantages. The mother is more mature and has more life experience to bring to her children. Of course, overall having a baby later in life is a personal choice that a woman must make. The important thing is that she makes that choice an educated one, being fully aware of the risks involved. Even more important is to make younger women aware of these risks. That way, if they don’t want to take the chances those risks entail, they may be able to choose to have their children at a younger age. If you do choose to have your children later in life, then take heart in knowing that successful pregnancies happen all the time and healthy babies are frequently born to older parents. No matter what you choose, enjoy the experience because there isn’t anything else like it in life!

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