What you need to know about pregnancy after 35

By Missy Jaramillo

What you need to know about pregnancy after 35

These days, lots of women are choosing to have children later in life. There are myriad reasons - maybe they've chosen to focus on their careers, or wait until they're more economically stable, or are even starting their second family. Whatever the reason, these women must all be aware of the specific risks and challenges that many women over 35 face during conception and pregnancy. By knowing what's out there, women stand the best possible chance of having a happy, healthy bundle of joy.

Fertility over age 35
A woman is born with a set number of eggs, which she releases over her lifetime. By the age of about 30, most women will have a noticeable decline in the number of their eggs. This means they'll ovulate less frequently, even if they're still experiencing their monthly periods. In addition, it can be harder for these eggs to be fertilized.

None of this means that a woman over 35 can't become pregnant, however. What it means is that it may take longer to become pregnant than it might have before 35. If a couple has been trying to conceive for more than six months, they should make an appointment with their physician to see what help is available, the Mayo Clinic recommended.

Possibility of chromosome abnormalities
One unfortunate possibility of pregnancy over 35 is the increased potential for chromosomal abnormalities in the fetus. Examples of conditions that such abnormalities may cause include Down syndrome and Turner syndrome. These conditions often include improper or incomplete baby development, especially in the brain.

The risk of miscarriage
The risk of miscarriage is also higher for older women. Some medical experts believe that this is actually due to the increased risk of chromosomal abnormalities, as these types of pregnancies frequently result in miscarriages.

Multiple births
Multiple births occur when two or more babies are conceived at once, examples being twins, triplets and even quadruplets. While it may seem counterintuitive, given that women at this age may struggle with fertility and face higher chances of miscarriage, women over 35 actually have a greater chance of experiencing multiple births. This is especially true for women who opt for fertility treatments to facilitate conception.

Health complications during pregnancy
Women who experience pregnancy at an older age are at greater risk for certain pregnancy-related complications such as hypertension or gestational diabetes. Hypertension, more commonly known as high blood pressure, can be a significant risk for women during pregnancy, as it can lead to further complications such as preeclampsia. Preeclampsia is a condition that's the result of a sudden, dangerous spike in blood pressure that can be potentially life-threatening for both the mother and child. It may occur shortly before or during labor, but it's generally able to be controlled with the help of a medical professional.

Gestational diabetes is a type of diabetes that's specific to pregnant women, and may present complications during pregnancy and birth. It's been associated with early birth as well as excessive birth weight. It can also interfere with baby development, as it may cause illnesses such as jaundice or hypoglycemia (low blood pressure). In addition, children born to mothers who experienced gestational diabetes are shown to have a greater risk of developing Type 2 diabetes later in life.

Chance you'll need a c-section
Women over 35 are more likely to undergo a c-section to reduce the risk of birthing complications, or even as an emergency procedure should these complications occur. There are no adverse side effects to babies born from c-sections.

Despite certain challenges, women over 35 are capable of having perfectly healthy and safe births. Do you have any suggestions on how to stay healthy and reduce the risk of complication during pregnancy? Let us know your tips in the comments section.