Pregnancy is a fantastic experience; it may be the most amazing experience for a woman in her life. Of course, the window of fertility for women is naturally limited. We all know that women are born with a certain number of eggs. During women's lives, this fixed number of eggs reduces in quality and quantity. As a result, the chances of getting conceived also decrease.
Generally, women's pregnancy probability is narrowed down after 30 and passing the mid-30s. As a result, if you wonder what age is geriatric pregnancy age? The answer is pregnancy at the age of 35 and above is called geriatric pregnancy. Of course, this term has been adjusted. Now, pregnancy of advanced maternal age is used to refer to women who get pregnant in above mid-30s.
What is a Geriatric Pregnancy?
First, let's say that there is no uniform and agreed-upon definition for the term advanced maternal age. Traditionally, organizations such as the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) consider this age for women to be over 35.
Pregnancy is generally associated with its own risks. Still, women who become pregnant after age 35 may be exposed more to certain pregnancy risks. These risks include miscarriage, gestational diabetes, preeclampsia, and so on. In fact, such pregnancies are called high-risk pregnancies.
One of the common concerns for moms at this age is Down syndrome. It is a condition where eggs can have an extra or defective/missing chromosome. Hence it increases the chances of genetic diseases in babies.
Of course, many women who get pregnant in their mid-30s give birth to healthy and normal children. Also, the mentioned problems and risks may threaten even those women who become pregnant at a much younger. By doing some simple things, you can increase the probability of giving birth to a healthy baby at an older age. We will discuss them in the rest of the article.
Considering the overall changes in society and culture, nowadays, people have different views and expectations of life. Therefore, pregnancy at an older age is regarded as usual today. Most people think of starting a family and having children much later in life. That is why they postpone childbearing until the fourth decade of life due to financial and professional concerns. They want to provide the highest possible financial comfort and the best educational opportunities for their future children.
In addition, women want more financial and personal independence. We should not ignore the progress of pregnancy technologies and infertility treatments too. Such technologies have allowed more women to have children at an older age.
Risks of Pregnancy Over 35
In general, the risks affecting pregnant women with a maternal age of over 35 are no different from those threatening other pregnant women. What makes such risks more probable is that after age 35, women will experience a sharper decrease in the quality and number of their eggs.
The other key factor is that the general health conditions of mothers at this age might get complicated. As such, common pregnancy complications happen more often during or later for these moms.
The first hurdle faced by women at this age is getting pregnant itself! Infertility increases with age, and getting conceived usually becomes more difficult for women over 35. Although it is not impossible.
According to statistics, as time passes, both a decrease in the number of eggs and the prevalence of particular conditions (such as uterine fibroids and endometriosis) will lead to fertility problems.
Even if a pregnancy happens, the fetus may be exposed to physical or mental disorders, including Down's syndrome. This is due to a defective, missing, or extra chromosome in women's eggs. For example, in 20-year-old pregnant mothers, the risk of having a baby born with Down syndrome1 in 1480 births, while in mothers over 35, this rate is 1 birth in every 353.
Other conditions that are more likely to get experienced by the mother and the baby in geriatric pregnancy include:
Miscarriage, preeclampsia, gestational diabetes, high blood pressure, and other delivery complications during childbirth.
Miscarriage occurs when the fetus is lost before 20 weeks of pregnancy. Many causes lead to miscarriage, including uterine abnormalities or hormone fusion. However, according to Cleveland Clinic, if mom ages 35 at the time of pregnancy, her chances of miscarriage will be 20-30% higher than that of younger moms.
Next in line is preeclampsia. It is identified by high protein in the urine and the mom's high blood pressure.
It is a severe condition that can cause damage to the internal organs of the mother. Preeclampsia usually occurs after the 20 weeks of pregnancy and during the third trimester. Moms-to-be who fall in the category of pregnancy at an advanced maternal age face an average risk of preeclampsia.
Other problems arising during childbirth for moms older than usual include giving birth to a low-weight baby, premature delivery, and a higher probability of needing a Cesarean section. Also, this group of mothers has a higher likelihood of multiple births.
Tips for Having a Healthy Pregnancy at 35
You may ask how to reduce the risk of the mentioned complications during pregnancy after the third decade of your life. First, notice that not all older women will necessarily face problems during pregnancy. Such risks are eliminated considerably with prenatal care and an excellent prepregnancy plan.
You can get a lot of help from your Obstetrician-gynecologist (OB/GYN) or midwife.
It is necessary to be regularly examined by a doctor before becoming pregnant and during pregnancy.
You need to consult with him about all pregnancy-related issues.
If your doctor or health care provider recommends specific treatments, follow them. Take folic acid supplements and prenatal vitamins seriously before and during pregnancy. Also, control the situation if you have high blood pressure or higher weight.
It is necessary to have regular prenatal visits throughout pregnancy. Periodic examinations play a significant role in preventing, identifying, and treating complications during pregnancy. As you know, in prenatal appointments, the doctor checks essential health factors such as blood pressure, blood sugar level, and the general health of the mother and baby.
To have a pregnancy with the lowest possible risk, you can also make significant changes in your lifestyle. Just try to:
- Eliminate alcohol, smoking, and drugs from your life.
- Look for ways to reduce your stress as much as possible.
- If necessary, change your diet and eat a healthy meal according to your doctor's opinion. Read about proper diet during pregnancy and nutritional dos and don'ts.
- Exercise and keep your body active.
Pregnancy at an older age is called by different names, such as geriatric pregnancy or pregnancy at an advanced maternal age. Pregnant women whose age is more than 35 years fall in the category of geriatric pregnancy age.
For these mothers, common pregnancy complications are usually higher. However, the number of pregnancies where the mother is over 35 years has increased for various reasons. These reasons include people's wish to progress in their personal and professional lives.
Knowing about these risks and how to limit them makes you able to take necessary actions. Therefore, you can get pregnant at an older age and still have a healthy baby.