Health is a defining parameter for most women who are planning a pregnancy after the 35-year mark. Take for instance Mumbai-based Pratibha Kaushal (name changed). An engineer by profession and health-junkie by choice, Kaushal was able to successfully carry a pregnancy last year at the age of 37.
“It wasn’t a feat, as is made for women my age. I kept myself fit and worked on maintaining a healthy lifestyle. That’s really all you need to deliver a healthy baby in a mature pregnancy,” quips Kaushal.
What is a mature pregnancy?
When a woman gets pregnant after the age of 35 or above, the pregnancy is called a mature pregnancy. Some studies suggest that by this age, women face the risk of serious complications that makes pregnancy a high-risk pursuit. The risk maybe more pronounced in older first-time mothers.
However, this is no longer the case.
Dr Nupur Gupta, gynaecologist and director, Well Women Clinic, Gurgaon, spoke to theIndusparent.com to explain. “Although age is important factor for getting pregnant, it loses steam if a woman follows a healthy diet, regularly exercises and maintains a healthy lifestyle after 35-years of age. Such women can carry the pregnancy successfully,” she says.
She adds that Indian women are also able to defer pregnancies because of the availability of egg freezing technologies.
Dr Malpani, medical director, Malpani Infertility Clinic, Mumbai, who also spoke to theIndusparent, agrees. “Yes, women are deferring childbearing because now there are many options that technology provides that can help you carry pregnancies in the later stages of their lives,” he says.
Both experts, however, concur that getting pregnant after 35 also means being ready to face the risks that age brings with it.
Continue reading to know about the risks of getting pregnant after 35
Risk factors of getting pregnant after 35
Carrying a successful pregnancy after 35 years of age is often considered risky. The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority, UK, lists the following reasons for decreased fertility post 35 years:
- Rapid decline in fertility as ovulation becomes less frequent
- Poor quality of eggs and decrease in the size and number of eggs
- Increased chance of miscarriage and labor complications
- Decrease in sperm count
- Possibility of emergency cesarean section
- Baby could develop Down Syndrome
Other health problems
Dr Gupta of Well Women Clinic, Gurgaon, explains that women may also face health problems conceiving after 35 years of age. She lists and explains the following:
- Chronic health problems: Issues such as diabetes, high blood pressure, are common in women in their late 30’s and 40’s. “Make sure you get these conditions under control before getting pregnant after 35, because it can put you and the baby at risk,” says Dr Gupta.
- Stillbirth: Women in their late 30’s also have the possibility of delivering stillborns (a baby that died before birth) or babies with low birth weights.
- Cesarean birth: This procedure is also quite commonly noted in older women. “In fact, many older women opt for a cesarean section to minimise the risk to the mother as well as the baby,” she says.
Having explained that, Dr Gupta adds that even though there could be complications, there are ways that one can ensure a safe and successful pregnancy.
Getting pregnant after 35 safely
She lists the following ways by which you can ensure a safe and successful pregnancy post 35-years.
- Visit the gynaecologist to discuss your overall health and to check for any pre-existing diseases
- Seek regular prenatal care. “Regular prenatal visits help your health care provider monitor your health and your baby’s health. Mention any signs or symptoms that concern you. Talking to your health care provider is likely to put your mind at ease,” she says.
- Start to eat a healthy diet and include super foods and diet rich in iron, calcium, folate, fiber and all other essential nutrients
- Gain weight wisely and do not go on a hogging spree just because you are ‘eating for two’
- Do regular physical activity to stay fit, healthy, active and energetic
- Intake of alcohol, tobacco and drugs are off-limits during pregnancy
- Clear any medications or supplements with your health care provider ahead of time
- Learn about prenatal testing for chromosomal abnormalities
Continue reading to know about the tests one should consider for mature pregnancies
Prenatal tests for women getting pregnant after 35 years
Even if you ensure a healthy lifestyle and a healthy diet, you are going to need regular health check-ups and prenatal tests to ensure all is well with you and the baby. Dr Gupta of Well Women Clinic, Gurgaon, lists the following tests a mother needs if she is carrying a pregnancy after 35 years.
- Amniocentesis: This prenatal test aims to detect risk of Down syndrome, sickle cell disease, cystic fibrosis, muscular dystrophy, Tay-Sachs, and similar diseases.
- Nuchal translucency screening: Also called the NT or nuchal fold scan, this non-invasive test
- MaterniT-21 Plus test: This new blood test is done as early as 10 weeks into the pregnancy (weeks before more invasive tests like amniocentesis) and can detect Down syndrome and other chromosome abnormalities, including trisomy 18, 13, and sex chromosome abnormalities.
- Chorionic Villi Sampling (CVS): Also used to detect birth defects, genetic diseases, and other problems during pregnancy.
- Ultrasound: An ultrasound can determine the viability and the numbers of feotus inside a womb. They also indicate teh health of the growing baby.
It is, however, worthwhile to note that a great number of women over the age of 35 go through their pregnancy without incident. Medical science has advanced allowing women over the age of 35 generally have safer pregnancies.
However, a pregnant woman over the 35-year mark must always be aware of these risks and be active in preventing complications.