by Virginia B. Hargrove
If you've put off having a baby until you're financially secure, have a stable job, bought a house, and tucked away a rainy day fund -- you're not alone.
It's not at all uncommon these days for women to have their first birth in their thirties. One in five women in the United States has her first child after age 35.
The thirties could be the ideal time to be pregnant. You have the stamina and resilience that come in handy for parenting young children and you're more likely to be comfortable in your own skin than you were in your twenties. Finances might be more under control as well.
While 30-something pregnancies might carry a slightly higher risk for complications, your midwife or doctor will be keep an eye out to quickly deal with any potential issues to keep you and your baby safe!
Ages 30 to 39
You have about a 15 percent chance of getting pregnant each cycle when you're in your thirties, according to Sherman Silber, director of the Infertility Center of St. Louis at St. Luke's Hospital in Missouri.
You have around a 75 percent chance of conceiving within a year from when you start trying to get pregnant. Since fertility tends to diminish as the decade progresses, your chance of getting pregnant in your late thirties declines to 65 percent.
Fun fact: Did you know that women in their thirties are more likely to have twins? If you used fertility treatments, you're even more likely to have multiples than women who conceived naturally.
It's important to note that as a woman in her thirties, you could have an increased risk of these conditions or complications:
- High blood pressure
- Having a low-birth weight babies
- Having a cesarean birth
Is being in your thirties considered too late to start a family? The answer is a resounding, "No!" Your lifestyle and general health affect your pregnancy as much as your age. Since you're aware of any potential problems, you can take charge and make the necessary changes to deal with them before they pop up.
Your healthy pregnancy begins with scheduling regular prenatal visits. The journey continues with enjoying a good diet, appropriate amount of exercise, and a baby-friendly environment.
Looking inward: You're most likely among the many women in their thirties who feel psychologically ready for motherhood. There might be moments where we wonder and weigh our options, but this is usually the decade we figure it's time to start a family.
Relationships: If you've just started a family now, you've had the advantage of some amount of "pre-baby time." In most cases, your marriage and relationship are humming along and you've communicated your dreams and concerns with your partner. Don't lose sight of yourself as a couple. This will come into play more after baby's born.
Being in your thirties does have some additional advantages like knowing other pregnant women in your circle of friends. This makes finding a support system a little easier.
Employment: At this stage, you've probably starting meeting some of your professional goals and feel confident about spending more time with your baby. As you're getting ready for your wee one to arrive, learn how to negotiate your maternity leave. We suggest meeting with your human resources representative to get prepared and make solid choices so you feel secure. It's one less thing to worry about.
Risks to Your Baby
Women under the age of 35 have about a 15 percent chance of a miscarriage. About 20 percent of pregnant women ages 35 to 39 miscarry. The age related risk of miscarriage is thought to be caused by an increase in chromosomal abnormalities.
During the thirties, your chances of giving birth to a child with Down syndrome or another chromosomal defect does increase. However, the percent of risk is still low. According to the American Society of Reproductive Medicine (ASRM) chances of having a baby with Down syndrome are 1 in 1,250 for a woman at age 25. Chances increase to 1 in 1,000 at age 30, and to 1 in 400 at age 35.
While the stated risk of pregnancy complications is higher in your thirties, those numbers shouldn't scare or deter you from your journey. It's highly probable that you'll end up enjoying a non-eventful pregnancy and birth resulting in a healthy baby! Always discuss any questions or concerns with your healthcare provider.
Is everyone around you having a baby? Are you in this age group and expecting? Tell us what you think is best or worst about being pregnant now.
1. American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM). (2003) Age and Fertility: A Guide for Patients. ASRM, Birmingham, AL. accessed (March 7, 2012).
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