Finding out you’re pregnant can be accompanied by a multitude of emotions. From joy to anticipation to apprehensive, all of these feelings are normal and natural. When you find out you’re pregnant AND of “advanced maternal age,” however, you may be dealing with even more emotions.
The good news? While it’s true that there is some higher risk involved with advanced maternal age, there are also steps you can take to promote a healthy pregnancy.
What is Advanced Maternal Age?
While the term “advanced maternal age” may sound complicated, it’s actually straightforward: Regardless of all other factors, if you get pregnant when you’re 35 or over, you fall into this category.
Research indicates that the combination of decreasing egg quality and the prevalence of age-related chronic medical conditions is associated with increased childbearing risks. These include pregnancy complications like gestational diabetes, high blood-pressure and pre-eclampsia, multiple births, placental problems, miscarriages, and delivery issues. There is also a greater risk of genetic conditions for babies.
If you’re an aspiring older mom-to-be, meanwhile, you should know that it may be more difficult for you to become pregnant. It may also take you longer as there’s a decline in egg quantity in addition to a decline in egg quality.
Promoting a Healthy Pregnancy at Any Age
While there’s no way to control every aspect of the risks associated with being of advanced maternal age, there are some steps you can take to support a healthy pregnancy.
Regular prenatal care is important, as are prenatal screenings. Your doctor may also recommend special prenatal diagnostic tests. The earlier your healthcare team is aware of any potential complications revealed by these screenings, the more proactively you’ll be able to manage them.
Lastly, while avoiding cigarettes, alcohol and illegal drugs is advisable for all pregnancies, it’s especially important to steer clear of risky substances during a high-risk pregnancy. Additionally, be sure to talk to your provider about any supplements or OTC or prescription medications you may be taking.
One additional thing to keep in mind? Modern medicine indicates that a healthy pregnancy relies much less on age alone than it does on the overall health of the mother. Taking prenatal vitamins, eating well, and staying active — both before and during pregnancy — can help promote the health of both mother and baby.
You may feel like you’re surrounded by young moms when you go to the grocery store or pass by the playground, you’re far from alone. In fact, many women are waiting until later in life to have families, and the majority of them do enjoy healthy pregnancies.
Talk to Your Doctors
If you are of advanced maternal age and you’re pregnant or thinking of becoming pregnant, the Folsom OB/GYN team offers compassionate obstetrical and gynecological services for women of all ages. Contact us today for more information or to schedule your visit.