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Risks of waiting to get pregnant until you're 35 or olderOne of the biggest challenges for women aged 35 or above is getting pregnant on the first attempt. You might have heard from others that the age range of 20-30 years is ideal to get pregnant -both for the mother and the baby. As a woman crosses the age of 35 years, certain complications might arise. You can think of referring to a dedicated female fertility chart or consulting an experienced gynecologist to guide you further.
If you are trying to conceive after 35 and are worried about your pregnancy, you should have knowledge about the right age to get pregnant and late-age pregnancy complications from an expert. If you wish to avoid a high-risk pregnancy and find about the best age to get pregnant, remember that your biological clock might be ticking fast. Therefore, it is important to know about specific risks associated with a pregnancy after 35 and how you can overcome the same.

A] Types of Risks Associated with Pregnancy After 35 Years

AMA or Advanced Maternal Age is the term used to describe pregnancy in women at the age of 35 years or above. In the modern era, due to hectic lifestyles and uplifting priorities, most babies are born to women in this age category.

As per a recent study report, it is believed that the number of individuals giving birth to the first baby at the age of 35-39 years is rising over time. As of now, first births in the given age group tend to be at least 6 times more than they were in the 1970s.

Birth rates indeed change from one year to another. However, starting a family when you are 35 or above has become quite a commonplace than ever before. If pregnancy at or after 35 is not that unusual, then why do we refer it to as ‘advanced maternal age?’ It is because pregnancy at this stage of life is mostly associated with late age pregnancy complications. Therefore, it is important for you to know about the pregnancy risks by age chart for your healthy life.

B] What are the Risks?

All pregnancies come with specific risks -irrespective of your age. However, the possibility of complications can be higher when you are at a higher age. As you are born with the same eggs that you will have for your entire life, there is an increased chance of some abnormality during pregnancies taking place at a later point in life. 

Some additional health changes linked with aging can also impact your pregnancy at or above 35. For instance, the risks of endometriosis and fibroids increase with age. Some of the risks associated with advanced maternal age or pregnancy above 35 years are:

1. Fertility Decline

With your age, the quality of your eggs declines as well. To top it all, you have fewer of them as well. When you are analyzing the right fertility age for women, you should know that you are born with all the eggs that you will ever have in your entire life, which are around 1 million. 

As you reach puberty, you have only around 300,000 eggs left. At or beyond 35, you will be down to only 25,000 -around 2.5 percent of the initial count. This fact matters as the fewer eggs present in your ovaries, the lower your chances for a successful conception.

Even if you succeed in getting pregnant, your older eggs are more likely to feature abnormal chromosomes. This only increases your chance of a miscarriage. Additionally, women above the age of 35 years stand at an increased chance of having potential fertility-related problems like fibroids and endometriosis. These problems only make it more difficult to get pregnant successfully. 

In addition to your eggs, the quality of your partner’s sperm also plays a vital role in a healthy, risk-free pregnancy during 35. As men tend to age, their sperms will navigate slower while also losing their shape. However, it is important to note that sperm quality does not steep until men reach their 60s.

While age and declining egg count cannot be controlled, women can try healthy foods known to lower the risk of infertility, caused due to varying factors.

2. Genetics

There is an increased chance of chromosomal abnormalities that are linked with genetics due to pregnancy at a later stage. This might increase the risk of specific complications like Down Syndrome. This implies that babies who are born to mothers over the age of 35 might experience a higher risk of depicting chromosomal problems. As such, it is significant to determine the pregnancy age limit at the earliest. 

As far as the genetic risks are concerned, the chances of miscarriage and stillbirth can also be relevant. Moreover, the presence of pre-existing medical conditions can only enhance the risks of genetic-related fatal abnormalities.

3. Miscarriage

The risks of a miscarriage risks gradually with the rising age of the mother. According to a study report, it is estimated that the overall risk of miscarriage for a woman aged 20-24 years is 8.9 percent. At the same time, the risk of miscarriage for a woman aged above 35 years increases to a whopping 70 percent. The declining quality of eggs in aged women is a major factor contributing to the higher risks of a miscarriage. 

Around 80 percent of miscarriages take place during the first trimester, referred to as early pregnancy loss. The reason for the rising rates with increasing age of mothers becomes evident when you realize that 50 percent of early pregnancy losses or miscarriages occur due to chromosomal abnormalities with the fetus. 

During the process of egg ripening and bifurcating into gametes (cells responsible for getting together to produce babies), more abnormalities can occur -proportional to the mother’s age.

4. Stillbirth

Stillbirth has a higher chance of occurring in women older than 35 compared to younger women. A recent study report suggested that instances of stillbirth are around 1.2 to 2.2 times higher in older ladies. Moreover, stillbirth rate is observed to be higher in individuals having their first baby and even higher in first-time mothers aged 35 years or above. 

Women who are aged 35 or more are recommended by doctors to be induced as they reach the due date. It is because of the increasing risk of stillbirth with gestational age. It is believed that 1 in 1,000 pregnant women under 35 years experience stillbirth during 40 weeks of gestation. On the other hand, 1.4 in 1,000 women between the age of 35 & 39 experience stillbirth during 40 weeks of gestation.

C] Additional Risks

  • Gestational Diabetes: The overall chances of having gestational diabetes can be higher in pregnancies at a later stage of life. This diabetes occurs during pregnancy when women reach the age of 35 or above. This implies that if you have an effective control on your blood sugar level with proper physical activities while cutting down on unnecessary calorie consumption, then you can bring about a change. 

However, the lady diagnosed with gestational diabetes will have an increased chance of having a baby growing more than the standard size. It will eventually increase the risks of common injuries taking place at the time of delivery.

  • Placenta Previa: It is a problem during later-stage pregnancies when the placenta partially or completely covers the cervix or opening of the uterus. Due to placenta previa, the placenta will attach itself quite lower in the uterus. Due to this, some part of the placental tissue will cover the cervix. It could lead to bleeding during pregnancy and after or during delivery as well. 
  • Emergency Cesarean Delivery: Not surprisingly, women above 35 might have gestational diabetes and high blood pressure while they are pregnant. These are the major factors for a C-section delivery.
    Aged women are also at a higher risk of excessive bleeding during labour along with a premature delivery.
  • Pre-term Birth: Pre-term is the term used for babies who are born before 37 weeks of pregnancy. A common belief is that the increased risk of preterm birth amongst aged mothers is associated with early labor induction for specific medical conditions. 
  • Postpartum hemorrhage: Women aged above 35 years have a significantly higher risk of obstetric factors, pregnancy-related complications, c-section delivery, and more. Therefore, there is a higher risk of developing postpartum hemorrhage in older mothers.

D] Reasons Women Face Birth Complications After 35

Remember, most mothers 35 or above deliver healthy babies and experience normal pregnancies. The overall risks for you and your little one might be slightly higher, yet still manageable. While these risks are factual, you can look forward to controlling them with effective prenatal care. Through proper prenatal screening and testing, you can be aware of all that is going on in your pregnancy -even before birth.

Conclusion:

If you are older, you might be worried about your pregnancy, childbirth, and postpartum care. However, pregnancies above 35 can be perfectly healthy and normal. Whenever possible, it is best to consult your doctor before you try becoming pregnant with your partner. Understand women pregnancy age and complications to help with your case.

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Neha Goel

Neha Goel, a Psychology alumna and MBA graduate from CASS Business School, London, brings together her expertise as a Reiki Practitioner and Practice Manager. She integrates psychology and business strategies to foster holistic well-being and personal development.