How freaked out should you be?
What is geriatric pregnancy?
Just terminology. It’s a kind of awful term really, and is slowly being replaced with “advanced maternal age” (IMO, also awful). It just refers to pregnant women who are 35 years and over. Doesn't seem very geriatric to me.
Why not? 35 is just an arbitrary cut off. You don’t wake up on your birthday and suddenly experience a whole slew of pregnancy related problems, while your face collapses under the weight of new wrinkles.
How unusual is it?
Umm. It’s NOT. It’s actually super common. Over the last 3 decades, we have seen a steady increase in the number of women having babies in their late 30’s and 40’s and it is certainly no longer unusual. Megan Markle didn’t meet her prince charming (heh) until she was 35. People aren’t ready, career, travel, difficulty falling or staying pregnant, life… there are plenty of reasons for getting pregnant later.
What could go wrong?
There is no doubt a link between increased age and complications. Studies show that risk increases with age for pregnancy and delivery issues, including:
Well thats full on.
WAIT though, becuase not everyone is equally at risk, and not at risk for everything!
- Gestational diabetes
- Increased blood pressure (which can lead to pre-eclampsia),
- Placental problems
- Preterm births, and
- Caesarean births
Don't freak out. People are unique and these studies
cannot possibly control for every factor - things like genetics, habits like smoking and exercise, diet, stress and general health. These things impact on a healthy pregnancy. In addition;
What can I do to best support a healthy pregnancy in my late 30's and above?
- If you already have children, these risks are around the same as a “younger pregnancy group”
- Risks are found to increase linearly with age so a woman at 35 doesn’t carry the same risks as a woman at 45
- Studies on multiples have different results all together – women 35 or older carrying a twin pregnancy had the same or higher birthweigths than women younger than 35
Take up additional pregnancy monitoring - most of the health conditions that develop can be managed if detected.
This is a very personal decision, but options are available to test for birth defects, such as DNA screening and maternal blood screening.
Regular acupuncture treatments to manage stress levels, maintain healthy blood pressure
as well as address any niggles and pains to support a comfortable pregnancy.
Chinese Herbal Therapy has been used for centuries during pregnancy and there are a whole host of herbs with known hypoglycemic actions - meaning they maintain blood
sugar levels and should definitely be considered if you have risk factors for gestational diabetes.
Diet tidy up. This isn't rocket science. The best pregnancy diet is nourishing, maintains blood sugar levels, is organic and contains lots of leafy greens. Meals should be warm and mostly cooked. This can be tough if you're feeling terrible, so you may need to look for natural
ways to deal with morning sickness!
Just as in pregnancy at any age - get yourself a good pre-natal vitamin! One that uses 5-MTHF instead of folic acid, and look at other supplements SPECIFIC to your needs - here's
a good start point.
Positive outcomes CAN be expected!
Despite the perceptions of increased risks related to being pregnant after 35, research
shows that risks are manageable and positive outcomes can be expected.
And if you’re worried about the impact your delayed pregnancy might have on your kid… take a look at this Swedish study
, which found that an advanced maternal age in pregnancy has positive long term outcomes for the children (and send it to all your friends having babies in their late 30's and 40's). This research concluded that kids born to mothers at the oldest ages, were taller, remained in the education system for longer and performed better on standardised tests better than siblings born when their mother was younger.
If you want to know more about planning a pregnancy at or beyond 35 years, or you want to maximise health throughout your pregnancy, you can touch base here