You’re in your mid-30s and want to have a baby. It’s not too late! As you get older, the health risks to you and your baby increase somewhat, but most women have normal pregnancies and deliver healthy babies.
There are some health concerns related to pregnancies in women older than 35, however, that you should keep in mind. These include:
Your fertility starts to decrease around age 32 and declines more rapidly after age 37. Problems that affect fertility such as endometriosis and uterine fibroids tend to be more common as you get older as well.
High Blood Pressure
There are two primary types of high blood pressure you may experience while you are pregnant:
High blood pressure can cause a number of problems for you and your baby, including:
The risk of developing diabetes also increases with age. If you have diabetes, you have a greater risk of having a baby with birth defects, as well as having a greater risk of high blood pressure, miscarriage, and macrosomia, a condition in which the fetus grows too large. Your risk for gestational diabetes also increases, which can cause breathing problems, low glucose levels, and jaundice.
While the overall risk of birth defects in babies is small, older women have a higher risk of having a child with a birth defect caused by missing, damaged, or extra chromosomes. We can offer tests to assess the baby’s risk of certain birth defects and diagnostic tests to show that a baby does indeed have a certain disorder.
Older women have a higher risk of carrying multiple babies, and certain fertility treatments can increase the chance of having multiples as well. Multiples can increase some of the health risks that older women may already be susceptible to, including preterm birth, preeclampsia, fetal growth problems, and gestational diabetes.
Labor and Delivery Complications
Women over 35 have a somewhat increased risk of preterm labor and preterm birth. You may also be more likely to need a cesarean section, which is a common operation but is still major surgery.
What to Do to Increase the Chances of Having a Healthy Baby
As you get older, the health risks to you and your baby increase, but most women have normal pregnancies and deliver healthy babies. To increase the chance of having a healthy baby when you are over 35 (or at any age):