Around your mid-30's, you are considered to be of advanced maternal age if you are trying to become pregnant or are already expecting. When you are of advanced maternal age, there may be additional concerns you need to consider for a healthy pregnancy.
As women age, their fertility generally decreases. This can pose problems if you plan to have a child or expand your family at a later age. You may want to discuss your fertility with your OBGYN to determine if there are tests available that can help you determine if you might face problems. For example, your doctor might want to test hormones or have you test your ovulation each month. Since fertility treatments can be harder on women in their later childbearing years, you might want to start any treatments as soon as possible if they are needed. Although much of the emphasis is placed on infertility in women of advanced maternal age, the converse can be true. As women encroach on menopause, their ovaries might release more eggs, increasing the odds of having multiples.
You may want to have genetic testing before you become pregnant to determine if you and your partner are at risk for genetic issues. Once you become pregnant, your obstetrician will likely perform genetic testing on the embryo early in the pregnancy. If genetic abnormalities are detected at an early stage of pregnancy, you have more time to decide how you want to proceed with your pregnancy or if you choose to terminate. When your obstetrician is aware of genetic concerns early, they may do more monitoring of the baby to see how the pregnancy progresses. Additionally, your obstetrician and any other specialists can be prepared for the delivery and any specialized care the baby will need after birth.
Women of advanced maternal age generally need more testing throughout their pregnancy because they are automatically considered high risk. Some issues that will be more concerning for your obstetrician are the development of gestational diabetes and preeclampsia. Women who already have a past experience of gestational diabetes might find they develop the problem earlier in their pregnancy. Keeping blood glucose levels under strict control can prevent serious health issues, significant weigh gain, and giving birth to a large baby. Developing signs of preeclampsia during pregnancy can mean you need to stay in the hospital until the baby is delivered, and in severe cases, your labor may be induced as soon as the baby can survive on its own.
Although a woman can theoretically have children naturally until she goes through menopause, there are increased risks associated with advanced maternal age. Being prepared and having consistent care can reduce many of your risks. Contact a doctor, like Xiao-Mei Zeng MD, for more help.