Posted: May 25, 2012 12:00 PM
 
Your body is young, you have loads of energy and you are expecting! What’s different about pregnancy in your 20s?

Your life

In your twenties, chances are your life is moving ahead at full-speed. You may be getting started in your career and thinking about your future -- possibly newly married or in a long-term relationship. Having a baby can bring challenges to a young couple attempting to balance career, a social life and a family. The energy and youthfulness that come along with being in your 20s will come in handy when you bring a baby into the mix.

Your financial situation may not be as comfortable during these early stages of adulthood, and with the addition of a baby you may need to watch frivolous spending and work on sticking to a monthly budget.

Your body

You are more likely to conceive in your twenties than at any other time in your life -- usually within two months of trying. A woman's fertility peaks in her mid-20s, and a very low percentage of women in their 20s are affected by infertility. "Conception is a much more common event when the involved parties are young, and eggs and sperm are much more likely to be genetically normal," says Dr. Carolyn Givens. "It may also be that the reproductive system has not been subjected to years of accumulated age-related, environmental damage."

Your pregnancy is less likely to bring about complications like gestational diabetes than pregnancies in older women. If you are otherwise healthy, you can expect to have a relatively trouble-free, healthy pregnancy. The risk of miscarriage is relatively low (10 percent). Chances of having a baby with Down's syndrome (or other chromosomal defects) is also lower, as are your chances of delivering your baby via cesarean section.

What to watch for

Pregnant women in their early 20s do have a somewhat higher chance of having a low birth-weight baby, mainly due to poor diet and a higher incidence of smoking than older women. Many younger women are less likely to seek early prenatal care or gain the recommended amount of weight -- both of which may lead to complications.

There is a slightly higher risk in younger women of developing preeclampsia -- high blood pressure that develops during pregnancy -- but the reasons are not clear. One of the risk factors for preeclampsia is first-time birth, which may explain the increased risk. Since preeclampsia can affect fetal growth and lead to preterm delivery, it is important to keep all medical appointments and follow up on lab test results.

Bottom line^ A pregnancy in your 20s should be a relatively stress-free event, as long as you are consistent with your prenatal care and take good care of yourself.

More about the first trimester

First trimester ultrasound: What to expect
I'm pregnant! Creative ways to share the news
The 5 most surprising things about the first trimester

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