Tips For Taking Care Of Yourself
Pregnancy puts extra demands on your body. When youâre older, these demands may increase even more. To maintain your health and the health of your baby, take extra special care of yourself no matter how old you are.
- Preconception counseling
- Get early and regular prenatal care.
- Take prenatal vitamins every day that contain 0.4 milligrams of folic acid, which can help prevent certain birth defects. Start at least 2 months prior to conception.
- Eat a healthy, well-balanced diet that includes a variety of foods. An average-weight woman needs to add only 300 calories a day during pregnancy. That’s about a cup of low-fat yogurt, a medium apple, and 10 almonds.
- Maintain a healthy weight during your pregnancy by gaining the recommended amount of weight. These guidelines are based on whether youâre at a healthy weight, underweight, or overweight before you become pregnant. Of course, these are estimates. Check with your doctor about how much weight you should gain.
Your weight status before pregnancy is based on your weight and height. Your doctor can help you determine yours.
American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists: “FAQ: Later Childbearing,” “FAQ: Genetic Disorders,” “FAQ: Nutrition During Pregnancy,” “Weight Gain During Pregnancy,” “Screening for Birth Defects.”
CDC: “Pregnancy and Prenatal Care.”
Johns Hopkins Medicine: “First Trimester Screening for Down Syndrome and Trisomies 13 & 18.”
USDA National Agricultural Library.
Fertility After 3: Is It Too Late To Get Pregnant After 35
The “ticking time bomb” of female fertility is supposed to go off at age 35. While there is some truth to that simplistic view, the human body is much more nuanced and individual and fertility is no exception. Its better to start trying sooner than later after 35, but epidemiological studies reassure us that fully 4 in 5 healthy women in their late 30s should be able to have children within a year of trying.
Lets look at what the real numbers tell us.
Thinking About Pregnancy After Age 35 3 Issues To Consider
More women are becoming pregnant later in life. Some will be first-time mothers, while others are having another child. Older mothers may be more financially stable or settled in their careers. They also may feel better able to care for a baby than a young mother would. But do older mothers and their babies face additional risks?
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What Are Your Risks
Remember, most moms 35 and older have healthy babies and normal pregnancies. The risks for you and your baby are a little higher than average, but still very low. Some of those risks include:
Birth defects. Older women are more likely to have a baby with a chromosome disorder such as Down syndrome. If you are age 25, the chance of Down syndrome is about 1 in 1,250. If you are age 35, the risk increases to 1 in 400. By age 45, it is 1 in 30.
Miscarriage. Most miscarriages happen in the first 13 weeks of pregnancy. With age, your risk of early miscarriage goes up. At age 35, the chance is about 20%. By age 45, your chance is 80%.
High blood pressure and diabetes. You may be more likely to develop high blood pressure or diabetes during pregnancy. These conditions can cause problems including miscarriage, growth problems in your baby, or complications during birth.
Placenta problems. Placenta previa happens when the placenta covers all or part of your cervix. This can lead to risky bleeding during delivery. If youâre in your 40s, youâre three times more likely to have placenta problems than a woman in their 20s. Even so, the problem is rare.
Premature birth and low birth weight: Older women are more likely to deliver their babies prematurely, before 37 weeks. As a result, older moms are at risk of having babies weighing less than 5.5 pounds at birth.
What Risks Are Associated With Pregnancy After 35
While there are increased risks for pregnant people after age 35, that doesnt mean its impossible to have a healthy pregnancy: There are just a few additional considerations, Dr. van Dis explains.
I deliver lots of over the age of 40, some over 50, even one over 60. And when I think of whats happening to the maternal body over age 40, the system most impacted is the cardiovascular system, Dr. van Dis says. Why? The blood vessels in older people with ovaries arent as elastic and pliable as they are when were younger. Since pregnancy adds a lot of extra volume to the cardiovascular system, the heart and blood vessels work hard to accommodate those changes. In some cases, this leads to hypertension and cardiac problems during pregnancies later in life.
Some of the pregnancy complications and health problems people over age 35 may face include:
- Gestational hypertension , preeclampsia , and gestational diabetes .
- While these conditions will require increased prenatal care and medical supervision, as well as cause discomfort during pregnancy, they can be reversible full recovery is possible once youve given birth.
- Placental abnormalities, such as placenta previa a condition in which the placenta does not evacuate the body after pregnancy.
- Increased chance of needing a cesarean section .
- Higher risk of breast cancer, though researchers dont yet understand why pregnancy later in life can affect breast cells.
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Age Is A Major Factor For Women
Youve probably heard the phrase your biological clock is ticking. This phrase refers to your fertile window. Women cant conceive after their menstrual cycles stop, usually sometime in your 40s or 50s. Men produce sperm throughout their lives, but women are born with a set number of eggs that decreases as you age.
At birth you have about two million eggs but naturally lose hundreds of thousands of them by the time you reach puberty, says Cross. Your body continues to lose eggs no matter what you do. And the rate at which women lose eggs accelerates around the age of 37.
The quality of eggs stored in the ovaries also declines over time. The eggs youre born with are naturally paused in the process of dividing their DNA, Cross explains. They complete that process, or ripen, when you ovulate them 20 to 40 years later. The longer eggs are stuck in the mid-division stage, the more likely that process will go wrong creating eggs with the wrong number of chromosomes. That results in not becoming pregnant, experiencing miscarriages or having babies with genetic syndromes due to chromosomal abnormalities.
The bottom line: The quality and number of eggs a woman has decreases throughout her lifetime and egg loss accelerates around the age of 37, which makes it more difficult to become pregnant.
How Long Would It Take To Get Pregnant At 35
Its normal for women in their 20s to get pregnant within two to three months of trying, however, for a woman in her mid to late 30s it might take six to nine months.
Although a mans fertility remains relatively high until his 50s, the proportion of men with sperm disorders has been shown to increase with age. So this is an important factor to consider if youre trying to get pregnant and your partner is a few years older.
A study that revealed that women aged 35-39 had a 29% of conceiving on their most fertile day also showed that if a womans partner was five years older, their odds dropped to 15%.
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Health Risks Of Later Childbearing
Advanced maternal age the term given to pregnancies in which the mother is 35 or older at the time of the babys birth brings with it a greater risk for pregnancy complications.
Older mothers face greater risk that their baby may be born with certain chromosomal birth defects, such as Down syndrome. According to the March of Dimes, while the risk of having a baby with Down syndrome is only 1 in 1,340 births when the mother is in her 20s, by the time she reaches 35 it is 1 in 353. At age 40, the risk is 1 in 85.
Women who have a baby in their late 30s and early 40s also have a greater risk of experiencing complications during pregnancy or labor and delivery, including:
- Requiring a C-section for delivery
How Can I Get Pregnant Naturally After 35 And Over 40
If youre trying to get pregnant after you turn 35, or older, you can maximise your chances of conception by knowing when you ovulate, which is when your ovaries release an egg. One reason why many couples struggle to get pregnant is that 1 in 2 couples may be trying to conceive at the wrong time of the month4. There are only a few days each menstrual cycle when you can get pregnant and your fertile days can vary between cycles. If you know when your fertile days are, it can help you . Ovulation tests detect the surge of a hormone called luteinising hormone which occurs 24 to 36 hours before ovulation and identify your 2 most fertile days. Since can survive for up to 5 days, your fertility window is actually around 6 days, so you may want to invest in a test that also detects a rise in estrogen. This rise in estrogen happens in the days leading up to your LH surge, so identifying these days gives you a wider fertility window giving you more opportunities to get pregnant.
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Im 36 And Can’t Get Pregnant Am I Too Old
Welcome to the updated Health section of Today.MSNBC.com, the “Today” shows Web site! Im Judith Reichman, M.D., the programs medical contributor on women’s health. I hope to address your questions and concerns in my weekly column, so please e-mail me. Meanwhile, you will find many answers to your questions in my latest book, “Slow Your Clock Down: The Complete Guide to a Healthy, Younger You,” published this month by William Morrow, a division of HarperCollins.
Q: Im 36 and have been trying to get pregnant for six months. Should I worry?
A: Not yet. But you might have to soon.
Its unfair, but as we get older, our eggs develop quality-control issues. It gets harder and takes longer to get pregnant.
For women between 19 and 26, theres a 50 percent chance of achieving pregnancy in one menstrual cycle, assuming they have intercourse at the time of ovulation.
For women in their late 30s, this falls to 30 percent. In other words, theres a 70 percent chance each month that you wont conceive.
Equally unfair, miscarriage rates rise with age. For 35-year-olds, the rate of pregnancies ending in live births is half that for women in their 20s. By age 45, it is down 95 percent.
Each egg and sperm cell contains half the chromosomes needed to make a complete embryo. These chromosomes are time-vulnerable. When asked to do their share in creating the embryo, they no longer do so satisfactorily. They break, collapse or go to the wrong place.
Does Womens Age Affect Other Aspects Of Reproduction
While ovarian reserve is considered the largest factor contributing to the gradual loss of fertility after 35, some studies, mainly conducted in animals, have suggested that age may affect other aspects of reproduction. This includes the fallopian tubes, the progesterone production by the corpus luteum that supports early-stage embryos, as well as inflammatory and immune functions necessary for implantation. As many women successfully carry pregnancies in their 50s and even 60s from eggs donated by young egg donors, though, its unlikely that these other aspects of reproduction are affected to the same degree that ovarian reserve is.
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Is No Magic Number
Its impossible to draw a line in time and say that after this date, your fertility plummets. Instead, what happens is that your fertility begins to drop gradually from your late 20s. The rate of decline speeds up once you get to 32, and then it speeds up again at about age 37.
Here are some statistics to explain things more clearly. One large study looked at pregnancy rates for women if they have sexual intercourse on their most fertile day. It found that:
- Women aged 19-26 years had an over 50% chance of conceiving
- Women aged 27-34 have a rate of just below 40%
- Women aged 35-39 have under a 30% chance of getting pregnant, almost half the rate of women aged 19-26.
To put it another away, you have a 25% chance of conceiving each month when youre in your 20s, but only a 5% chance each month when youre in your 40s.
That doesnt mean its impossible, only that its less likely.
Another way of calculating fertility is by tracking how long it takes for a woman to conceive and give birth. Using this method, it was estimated that:
- 75% of 30 year-old women conceive within 1 year, and 91% within 4 years.
- 66% of 35-year-old women conceive within 1 year, and 84% within 4 years.
- Only 44% of 40-year-old women conceive within 1 year, and just 64% within 4 years.
Aim For Healthy Blood Pressure Levels
Healthy blood pressure during pregnancy:
- Helps support healthy blood flow to the placenta to deliver oxygen and important nutrients to your baby
- Supports healthy fetal growth and development
- Helps keep your other organs healthy
- Supports healthy gestational length
So, its important to make sure your blood pressure is under control before pregnancy. Diet and lifestyle can have a huge impact on your blood pressure and heart health. Focus on a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean protein, and keep tabs on your sodium intake. The American Heart Association recommends no more than 2,300 mg of sodium each day. Ditching the salt shaker is a great way to cut back on sodium, but sodium can be sneaky. It hides in processed meats and cheeses, packaged snack foods, canned soups, canned vegetables , and more, so check the Nutrition Facts label to help guide your food choices.
Despite their best efforts, some healthy women still have blood pressure concerns during pregnancy, especially those over 35 years old. Be sure to have your healthcare provider take your blood pressure regularly during pregnancy. You may require medication to manage your blood pressure while pregnant, and thats okay. Follow your healthcare providers advice to help you achieve healthy blood pressure levels to support a healthy pregnancy.
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Trying For Pregnancy After 35
Many people try for a baby after 35. Around 1 in 5 pregnant Australians are between 35 and 39 years of age. There are risks and challenges you should know about when trying for pregnancy after 35 years.
It can be harder to get pregnant now than when you were younger. Females are most fertile in their 20s.
If you’ve been trying to get pregnant for over 6 months, you should see your doctor to discuss your fertility.
- Female fertility begins to decline faster after the age of 30. It declines more significantly after the age of 35.
- Male fertility begins to decline faster after the age of 40. It declines more significantly after the age of 45.
The older you and your partner are, the more likely it is to take longer to conceive. This can also increase the risk of pregnancy complications.
What Healthy Habits Can Do
Dont assume that your age is the only reason youre not conceiving quickly. When youre over 35, your lifestyle can also work against you as you try to get pregnant, too.
To improve your chances of conceiving, your medical provider might suggest you try making some lifestyle changes, such as avoiding sugar and overall choosing a healthier diet, cutting back on alcoholic drinks, ensuring you are at a healthy weight , reducing your caffeine consumption, alleviating excess stress, and quitting smoking.
Diet and lifestyle can affect fertility. Eating healthier, embracing healthy lifestyle habits, and maintaining a healthy weight can help you conceive faster and may even boost your odds for fertility treatment success if you do need treatment.
Dont forget about mind-body therapies as well. While research hasnt yet found a strong link between mind-body therapies like mindfulness, mediation, and yoga with fertility, most everyone can benefit from adding stress-reducing activities to their life.
It’s important to understand that while quitting unhealthy habits can improve your fertility, changing your lifestyle won’t stop age-related fertility decline. Your age, like many other factors that influence your chances of conceiving, is out of your control. So, even if you eat a balanced diet, get regular exercise, and don’t smoke, you will still get older and experience age-related fertility decline just like anyone else.
Male Fertility And Age
While we’re discussing the effect of female age, it’s important to mention that your partner’s age matters as well. Male fertility doesn’t decline the same way female fertility declines, but male age does matter.
Remember the study mentioned above, the one that found women age 35 to 39 had a 29% chance of conceiving on their most fertile day? That same study found that if a woman’s partner was five years older, their odds dropped to 15%. Essentially, their odds halved.
Keep in mind that these are the odds of conception. Just because you get pregnant doesn’t mean you’ll give birth. Miscarriage rates are higher for older mothers and fathers.
What Will Help Me Get Pregnant At 35
There are a few steps you can take to give yourself the best possible chance of getting pregnant.
Consider scheduling a pre-conception appointment your GP can review your medical history, current medications and lifestyle. Together, you can reassess or address any concerns or lifestyle factors that might hinder pregnancy at the age of 35. For example, alcohol, smoking and caffeine can have a negative impact on fertility. In addition, being overweight or underweight can interfere with hormone function and affect your fertility.
Be aware of when youre ovulating track your menstrual cycle using a calendar or an ovulation app, which will help you predict your most fertile days and pinpoint the best time to have unprotected sex while trying to conceive.
Dont worry if you dont get pregnant right away. Its advisable to have regular, unprotected sex for up to a year. If, after a year, youre still struggling, you should see a fertility specialist.
Fertility treatment intrauterine insemination is a less invasive, assisted reproductive technology that may work but in-vitro fertilisation is an excellent treatment option as well.
Mr Andrew Drakeley is the Clinical Director at the Hewitt Fertility Centre, working principally at the Liverpool Womens site but with managerial responsibility for Knutsford.
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