Thinking About Pregnancy After Age 30? 3 Issues to Consider

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smiling man and woman on couch both holding her pregnant belly

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?

What to Watch For

Women who become pregnant in their 30s and early 40s can have safe, healthy pregnancies, says Ellie Ragsdale, MD, director of fetal intervention at UH Cleveland Medical Center. But they do face a higher risk of some problems. She mentions three areas that women should be aware of:

  • Trouble conceiving: Starting in their early 30s, women become less fertile, and it may take them longer to get pregnant.
  • Complications during pregnancy: Women older than age 35 have a higher risk for diabetes and high blood pressure during pregnancy. Older women are also more likely to be pregnant with multiples.
  • Complications during delivery: Women in their 30s are more likely to need a cesarean section than younger women. Women who have their first baby after age 35 are also at increased risk for other delivery complications, such prolonged labor.

How does a mother’s age affect her baby? “Babies born to older mothers may have a higher risk for chromosomal birth defects, prematurity, and low birth weight,” Dr. Ragsdale says.

Plan for Good Prenatal Care

Keep in mind that women older than age 30 can have successful pregnancies and deliveries. Advances in medical care for both mother and baby can help prevent and treat many of the risks they face.

“Early and regular prenatal care is key to having a healthy baby at any age,” Dr. Ragsdale says. “It’s important to make sure you’re in good health before and during your pregnancy. Eat a nutritious diet and exercise regularly. Avoid cigarettes and alcohol, which can harm the baby.”

In addition, Dr. Ragsdale advises taking 400 mcg of folic acid every day before and during pregnancy to help reduce the risk of birth defects. For women who have type 1 or type 2 diabetes, the American Diabetes Association recommends taking low-dose aspirin starting at the end of the first trimester to lower the risk for preeclampsia. Talk with your health care provider to determine your exact dose and frequency.

“Discuss any pregnancy plans with your provider, who can identify any special needs you may have and help make suggestions. Together, you can make pregnancy and motherhood wonderful experiences,” Dr. Ragsdale says.

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At University Hospitals, our maternal fetal medicine physicians are leaders in the field of high-risk pregnancy management. We provide seamless care for pregnant women, from the moment a condition is diagnosed, through the entire pregnancy, delivery and post-partum period. Our priority is providing excellent care for both mother and baby, for a healthy pregnancy and safe delivery. Learn more about the high-risk pregnancy team at University Hospitals.

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