During pregnancy, a woman goes through rapid changes in a very short span of time. Once a woman gets pregnant, she has to go through a lot of cognitive, physical, physiological and emotional changes. These problems get augmented when a woman is above 35.
A woman has a limited number of eggs in her ovary. These eggs get released one at a time during every menstrual cycle. This implies that every cycle reduces a woman’s number of eggs. These eggs deplete over time and move a woman’s reproductive cycle into menopause.
Does age really matter?
The probability of conception for women is lesser they are above the age of 35 years. But, if you have a healthy reproductive cycle, there is nothing to worry about. There are women who get pregnant after 35 and deliver healthy babies. Although, since there are chances of not having a healthy pregnancy, it is advisable to meet your physician early in your pregnancy and do a complete checkup of your health status. If there are no comorbid conditions, then you can relax and opt for regular visits. But if there are factors like diabetes or cardiovascular diseases, then you need to consult specialists to aid you in delivering a healthy baby. The chances of having a child with chromosomal abnormalities are also higher with advanced age. Thanks to the latest tests that we have today, we can detect fetuses with chromosomal aberrations and can act early.
What may complications arise in an above 35 pregnancy?
- Children with chromosomal abnormalities: The chances of having chromosomal abnormalities in the child are higher when the maternal age is above 35. But there is nothing to worry about, there are a good number of non-invasive and invasive tests that can be used to detect the abnormalities.
- Premature babies: The incidence of premature babies in mothers above the age of 35 years is higher. This is why utmost care should be taken to ensure good health of the mother and the fetus.
- Placental abnormalities –Placenta Previa: Placenta previa is a condition where the placenta blocks the outlet of the uterus partly or fully. This condition is more prevalent when the maternal age is above 35. Placenta Previa could cause antepartum haemorrhage.
- Pre-eclampsia: This is a condition of elevated blood pressure with loss of protein in the urine. If untreated, this disease could lead to seizures – a condition is known as eclampsia.
- Pregnancy loss: Loss of pregnancy due to a weak uterus is more for expecting mothers who are above 35 years of age.
- Age-related medical conditions: Women nearing the end of their fertile age are more prone to cardiovascular diseases, hypertension, diabetes mellitus, etc. Coupled with obesity, these diseases can get augmented.
What to do about it?
It’s not the age, but a woman’s lifestyle that really matters. Say, for instance, a 36-year-old primigravida engaging in sports with a healthy lifestyle may be actually healthier than a 23-year-old primigravida who smokes, drinks alcohol has toxic food habits and does not exercise. Therefore, when it comes to pregnancy, it’s not the biological age of women that matters but rather their physiological age.
Eat right, No smoking, No alcohol
The first step in preparing for pregnancy above 35 is to eat right. Avoid intake of junk foods and increase your intake of vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients. This will be ensured if you eat a lot of vegetables. Avoid smoking cigarettes and drinking alcohol.
Get an adequate amount of exercise. One reason for various complications in above-35 pregnancies is that women tend to be more obese with a very weak physique. Maintaining a healthy physique, a good muscle tone, and low levels of body fat help mitigate the risks associated with above-35 pregnancies.
Finally, the scenario differs from person to person, so it is essential to consult your physician early before you start planning for your child. This would help you to stay prepared.