Getting Pregnant After 35
Trying to conceive after age 35 may seem a bit daunting. The older you are, the more difficult it might be to get pregnant, and there can be some additional complications. But women in their thirties have successful pregnancies all the time, and so can you.
Let’s look at what challenges might come up if you’re trying to get pregnant after 35 and what you and your doctor can do to help you conceive and have a healthy pregnancy.
Challenges of Conceiving After 35
Decreased egg quantity and quality. Every woman is born with a limited number of eggs, and when you reach your thirties, you have fewer eggs and they aren’t as easily fertilized. This means it might take you a little longer to get pregnant. While there isn’t anything you can do about the quantity of your eggs, you can ask your doctor about how to increase the quality of the eggs you do have.
High blood pressure. Studies have found that older pregnant women are more likely to have high blood pressure, which can lead to other complications during pregnancy such as labor induction, placental abruption (when the placenta separates from the uterine wall), or preterm delivery. However, if you keep in contact with your doctor and monitor your blood pressure, you can still have a perfectly healthy baby.
Increased chances of multiples. With age comes hormonal changes that could increase the possibility of having twins. Many women of advanced maternal age also choose to use assisted reproductive technologies, like in vitro fertilization (IVF), which can also increase the chance of having multiples.
Gestational diabetes. This type of diabetes is most common among older pregnant women. A few diet and lifestyle changes, and some medication if deemed necessary by your doctor, can help decrease the labor risks of gestational diabetes.
Higher risk of chromosomal abnormalities. The risk of having a baby with chromosomal abnormalities, like Down syndrome, increases with age. At age 35, the chances of your baby having a genetic disorder are about 1 in 192. By age 40, the chances are 1 in 66.
Likelihood of C-section. A lot of mothers in their mid-to-late thirties end up having their babies through C-section because of other pregnancy-related complications, like placenta previa (when the placenta blocks the cervix).
Increased risk of miscarriage. Studies have found that women between the ages of 35 and 45 have a 20 to 35 percent chance of miscarrying. This is most often caused by increased chromosomal abnormalities, but can also be caused by other medical conditions that complicate pregnancy, including high blood pressure and diabetes.
How to Increase Your Chances of Getting Pregnant
Knowing the risks, while helpful, can also make you nervous about trying to get pregnant. The most important thing you can do when trying to have a healthy, successful pregnancy — at any age, but especially over 35 — is to have a plan with your partner and with your doctor. Here are a few things you can do to increase your chances of conceiving.
Make a preconception appointment. If you’re in your thirties and trying to have a baby, it’s a good idea to get your doctor involved early. Share with your doctor all of your medical history and any concerns or questions you might have about conception at your age.
Be aware of your window. Your “fertile window” is the period of time during your menstrual cycle when pregnancy is possible. Your fertile window is the day an egg is released from your ovary (ovulation) and the five days leading up to ovulation. Having sex during this window gives you the best chance of conceiving. To track your ovulation, you can use urine ovulation kits or online ovulation calculators. If you’re having difficulty conceiving after more than six months, you might need to consult a fertility specialist to help figure out what the problems are and the best solutions, which may include having a baby another way, such as IVF.
Eat a well-rounded diet. Simple lifestyle changes like eating right are extremely important during pregnancy — and even before! Studies have found that having a more well-rounded diet might contribute to an increased quality of your eggs. Take a daily prenatal vitamin, ideally before contraception, to fill in any nutritional gaps your diet might be missing.
Get good exercise and sleep. Part of the healthy lifestyle you need for a healthy pregnancy is an active body and plenty of rest. Regular physical activity, like walking or swimming, can increase your energy and overall health. Getting sufficient sleep — at least seven hours a night — is good for you and your body too.
Avoid drinking and smoking. Alcohol, tobacco, and illegal drug use are extremely detrimental to pregnancy. If you’re trying to get pregnant, or think you might be, give up drinking and smoking as soon as possible. Talk with your doctor about any medications you’re taking to see if they can affect a pregnancy.
Keep up with your prenatal visits. There might seem like a lot to worry about when it comes to having a baby, especially if it takes longer to conceive because of your age. Seeing your doctor regularly allows him to monitor your health and your baby’s. Be open about any symptoms that worry you. Speaking regularly with your doctor will help ease your worries.