Motherhood can happen at any age. There's no age limitation to becoming a mother. But there are some risks involved in advanced age.
Seeing your doctor and going to all of your antenatal care visits helps most mothers have a safe and healthy outcome for their pregnancy.
What is considered advanced age?
Advanced maternal age starts from 35 years.
For many reasons, women may have delay having a baby till they become advanced in age. And this is certainly not their fault.
While some women choose to delay in having babies till they are advanced in age. Advances in infertility treatments and the ability to save eggs and embryos make it easier for women 40 and over to get pregnant.
Despite developments and improvements in our ability to take care of older pregnant mothers, the risk of advanced maternal age remains and becomes even riskier as age increases, and with multiple pregnancies, which can be common after infertility treatments.
What are the Risks involved?
Advanced mothers are more likely to have chronic diseases such as high blood pressure, diabetes and thyroid disease.
Even when the mother is healthy prior to pregnancy, the physical stress of pregnancy can make pregnancy problems more common.
Older mothers have an increased risk of the following issues:
1. Ectopic pregnancy.
5. Preterm labor.
6. Gestational diabetes.
7. Delivery problems.
8. Prolonged labor.
10. Thyroid disease.
While the overall risk for mothers at any age is very low, this risk increases with advancing maternal age.
Risk for the Fetus:
There is an increased risk of genetic problems due to aging of the eggs. While men continuously make sperm, a woman is born with all of her eggs, so the age of her eggs increases over her lifetime.
Embryos from older eggs have an increased risk of genetic problems, particularly chromosomal problems as they develop. For example, the risk of Down syndrome, a chromosomal problem.
Antenatal screening and proper diagnostic tests for women at older ages is done differently than for younger women.
Older women are more likely to have poor blood circulation to their placenta which can lead to poor fetal growth, low fluid, spontaneous preterm delivery and stillbirth.
Older mothers also are at increased risks for illnesses that can affect the growth of their baby such as preeclampsia or gestational diabetes.
At times, problems with the fetus or the mother may make it necessary to have an early delivery, also increasing the risk of having a premature baby. There is also an increased risk of miscarriage and stillbirth.
How to get prepared:
It’s time to get into your best shape.
Get down to the healthiest weight possible, exercise, eat a healthy diet, and alleviate unnecessary stress.
See your doctor for a checkup. They can run tests for diabetes, thyroid disease and hypertension. It is best to test for these diseases before getting pregnant, as they may be present without any symptoms.
Be sure to tell your doctor that you are trying to get pregnant, so that any medicines they give you to treat problems are medicines that are safe for your baby.
You should make sure that you are immune to diseases that can affect a growing baby. Some vaccines can be given safely during pregnancy, the vaccines for varicella and rubella should not be given to pregnant mothers. It is best to check your immunity before trying to conceive so that you can get these vaccines before becoming pregnant.
You can also perform genetic testing to learn if you or your partner may be a carrier of some genetic disease. Even if the carrier testing is negative, your baby might still be at risk of genetic problems due to the age of both mother and father.
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