How to Have a Healthy Pregnancy After 35
Gone are the days when having babies in your 30s or even 40s is frowned upon, in fact you might say it’s become the norm. Changes in society, gender roles and life expectancy has seen the age in which women are opting to start having children on an upward trend. The advances in medical technology and a better understanding of the female body as well as pregnancy in general have definitely contributed to this rise and we continue to see the introduction of new and innovative ways to assist with conception at an older age. It is however a misconception that women hoping to achieve conception beyond their mid 30s will always require assistance. Many women over 35 are finding they are able to fall pregnant and see their baby to term completely naturally and with minimal medical assistance. Explanations for this include numerous studies suggesting that the average age at which women are experiencing menopause is on the rise. A study in Sweden published results that saw an increase from 50.31 years to 52.73 years between 1939 and 1960. As with falling pregnant at any age, whether you’re opting for the natural route or you plan to make the most of the amazing technologies available, there are a number of ways you can increase your chances of having a healthy baby.
Step one is out of the way, you’ve (and perhaps your partner) have decided it’s time to bring a little bundle of joy into the world. Perhaps you’ve googled how to have a baby boy / how to have a baby girl or researched best childcare Melbourne and started thinking of names, but there are also plenty of health-related ways you can prepare for your upcoming pregnancy. Having a baby over the age of 35 is considered to be of higher risk compared to being in your late teens and early 20s and not just for the baby. Ensuring you are in good health before trying to fall pregnant will decrease chances of complications.
Visiting your doctor for some personalised advice is the best place to start. Chances are they will advise that you are (or become) a non-smoker who is physically active and has a healthy, balanced diet. These basic lifestyle changes will help ensure your body is strong enough to endure the challenges and changes your body takes on during pregnancy. Thanks to medical technology, we are now able to screen for any markers or health issues that may increase chances of future complications. This is also the time to check in with your doctor about any current illnesses or medications, your family history and any potential gaps in vaccination. You and your doctor will be able to discuss any actions that should be taken before conception to ensure the best outcome.
If you plan to take the route of IVF or other fertility assistance, then you will obviously need to find a clinic that provides these services. This process can be gruelling and oftentimes uncomfortable, it is always best to make sure you link up with a doctor/provider who is a good fit for you. If you plan to try to conceive naturally it may still be helpful for you to seek out a fertility specialist. As we age, both male and female bodies can experience a decline in fertility levels and being aware of any issues with either you or your partner may save you a lot of effort and heartache down the line.
Make sure you keep any appointments required by your doctor. It’s important that you keep an eye on the baby’s growth but also your health, be sure to keep treating any pre-existing conditions as normal. Your doctor will be able to tell you if any medications you’re on will impact your pregnancy negatively. As you get nearer to the birth, you can also use this time to discuss expectations and preferences for hospitals, doctors, pain medication and any other concerns. Just as it’s their job to worry about bariatric equipment and medical equipment sales, so too is it their job to deal with any medical logistics for your birth plan.
For the most part, the chances are your pregnancy will be the same as it would have been at any age. However, when carrying a baby over the age of 35 you have an increased risk of a number of health conditions and being aware of these will help prepare you and also enable you to notice any warning signs. For example, older pregnancies hold a higher chance of conceiving multiple babies due to likelihood of fertility treatments, the mother has higher chance of high blood pressure or preeclampsia, and there is also a higher chance the baby will have chromosomal abnormalities. While the first may be seen as a blessing in disguise, the latter two can often make expecting parents quite anxious. Close monitoring of mother and baby by a doctor will help early detection of dangerously high blood pressure in order for medical intervention and if worried, the option is there for genetic screening of the foetus.
As it is with any pregnancy, steer clear of all the usual stuff: alcohol, cigarettes, shellfish, soft cheese etc. Make sure you keep your lifestyle as active as it was pre-pregnancy. You’re not going to harm the baby by exerting some energy, if anything you’re likely to help. You’ll be promoting heart health and in turn blood flow to your growing tummy. No matter how old you are or how you came to be so, pregnancy should be a time of joy, of planning, and of excitement. Minimising your stress is what is best for your baby – though undeniably easier said than done. It’s a bit of a catch 22, but the more you stress about the wellbeing of your baby, the higher the chances are that you’ll have something to worry about. Focus instead on preparing the babies room or planning the baby shower. The best thing you can do is go about your life as normal (within reason) whilst paying special attention to your health.
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