By the time you reach your 30s, your career path has probably been established and you have goals for your immediate future. Many women feel more confident than they did in their 20s, and are more financially secure. This time in your life is an ideal time for a pregnancy, barring any health concerns.
Fertility begins to decrease slowly after age 30, with a more rapid increase after 35. Women in this age group usually take a bit longer to conceive than younger women, mainly because they tend to ovulate less frequently. About one-third of women over age 35 have infertility issues.
Many women are taking better care of their health and have better eating habits in their 30s. "It makes sense that healthy people are more likely to have healthier babies, and this may be especially true in the later reproductive years," says Dr. Carolyn Givens.
The rate of miscarriage is about 20 percent higher than in younger women and your risk of conceiving a baby affected by Down's syndrome or other chromosomal defects also increases. If you are 35 or older when pregnant, you will be offered an amniocenteses to test for genetic abnormalities. There are risks associated with this testing, but at the age of 35 the risks of miscarriage due to the procedure are about the same as the risk for Down's syndrome.
What to watch for
After the age of 35, pregnancy-related problems such as gestational diabetes, preeclampsia and placental problems are more common. Placenta previa -- a condition where the placenta covers part or all of the opening of the cervix -- is more common after age 35 and can cause serious bleeding during delivery. Your doctor will likely recommend a caesarean delivery if this is an issue.
Bottom line^ While there may be more potential for pregnancy concerns in your 30s, most of them can be effectively monitored and managed with routine prenatal care. Take good care of your health and follow up on any concerns with your doctor, and you will likely have a routine, healthy pregnancy in your 30s.