Pregnancy after age 35 is no huge deal, really -- most women from 35 into their 40s have healthy, uneventful pregnancies. But if you're of advanced maternal age, as your care provider may deem you, you may be faced with decisions you might not have heard of just a few years ago.
Moms have babies at age 35 and beyond for a multitude of reasons. Some put off childbearing until they have established careers, or perhaps they want to spend time with their partner, traveling or continuing their education. And still others have already had children and wish to add to their families.
Some women find that their fertility decreases with age, so getting pregnant is often half the battle -- but once you're there, you still may be worried about the risks that you and your baby now face.
Genetic disorders are often more common when a mom is 35 or older -- although it's important to note that this can happen no matter the age of the mom. According to the March of Dimes, Down syndrome in particular has a higher incidence with an older mom. The risks of having a baby with Down syndrome is:
- 1 in 1,300 at age 25
- 1 in 1,000 at age 30
- 1 in 400 at age 35
- 1 in 100 at age 40
- 1 in 35 at age 45
Other risks that happen more often during the pregnancy of a mother 35 and over are an increased possibility of premature labor, blood pressure problems and diabetes.
Tests such as amniocentesis and chorionic villus sampling (CVS) may be offered to the mature mama. An amnio is a test where they can identify most genetic abnormalities, but it does carry a risk of miscarriage. It can be a difficult decision to make, especially if this was a long-fought-for pregnancy. Your care provider will help you weigh the pros and cons.
The over 35 mindset took into account the risk of miscarriage from an invasive test paired with the risk of having a child with Down syndrome. At around age 35, the risk of Down syndrome is greater, and that's how the rule began. However, non-invasive screening that consists of a blood draw and an ultrasound has lessened the need for their invasive counterparts, and most women are offered these tests now.
What you can do
Getting early prenatal care is the best way to ensure that you're doing the best you can for yourself and your baby. Monitoring your blood pressure and screening for diabetes is important because older moms are more likely to spring up with those issues for the first time.
If you're labeled as advanced maternal age, however, don't fret. Most moms and babies sail through their pregnancies with no issues and age is just a number, after all.