Later childbearing means that you are 35 years old or older when you have a baby.
Most women who are 35 or older have normal pregnancies and healthy babies. However, there are some things that you should be aware of if you plan to have a baby after age 34.
Will it be harder for me to get pregnant?
It may be harder for you to get pregnant as you get older. As you age, your ovaries may not release an egg during every menstrual cycle, or they may not release a healthy egg. If you are 35 years old and have been trying to get pregnant for more than 6 months, talk to your healthcare provider. Your provider may be able to help you find treatment that will help you get pregnant.
What problems are more likely during pregnancy at age 35 or older?
Most older women have a healthy pregnancy and a healthy baby. However, the older you are when you get pregnant, the greater the chance that you will have problems during the pregnancy or that your baby will have a problem with his or her genes. For example:
The risk of miscarriage is higher as you get older. (Miscarriage is the unplanned loss of a baby before the 20th week of pregnancy.)
You are much more likely to have high blood pressure or diabetes during pregnancy.
There is a greater risk that the placenta will separate from the wall of the uterus before birth, or that the placenta will cover the opening to the birth canal. The placenta is the tissue that carries oxygen and food from your blood to the babyâ€™s blood.
You are more likely to need a C-section to deliver the baby because of problems during labor and delivery. A C-section is an operation that delivers your baby through a cut in your belly and uterus.
Some genetic problems are more likely with later childbearing. Genes are in each cell of the body. They contain the information that tells the body how to develop and work. Down syndrome is an example of a genetic problem that is more common in children born to older mothers. Down syndrome causes problems with the way the babyâ€™s brain and body develop.
How can I help prevent problems?
Before you try to get pregnant:
If you are not yet pregnant but are planning to try to get pregnant, see your healthcare provider. Your provider may do some tests and talk about things you can do to have a healthy pregnancy and healthy baby. This is especially important if you have diabetes, high blood pressure, or other ongoing health problems. Take vitamins, other supplements, and medicines as recommended by your provider.
If you smoke, drink alcohol, or use drugs, you should quit before you get pregnant.
Lose weight if you need to so you can start your pregnancy at a healthy weight.
You may want to talk to a genetic counselor about your family’s health history. In some cases, you may choose to have genetic testing before you get pregnant. The tests can give you an idea of your chances for having a baby with genetic problems.
How can I take care of myself?
Here are some things you can do to take good care of yourself during your pregnancy and prepare for the birth of your child:
Keep all appointments with your healthcare provider for your prenatal checkups and tests. Talk to your provider about any concerns or problems you have.
Eat a healthy diet and ask your provider about foods you should avoid.
Drink plenty of water each day.
Unless your healthcare provider tells you not to, try to be physically active for at least 30 minutes a day, most days of the week. You may want to take a prenatal exercise class.
Do not smoke, drink alcohol, or take illegal drugs.
Talk to your healthcare provider before you take any medicine, including prescription and nonprescription medicines, supplements, or natural remedies. Some medicines are not safe during pregnancy. Take vitamins and medicines as recommended by your provider.
Relax by taking breaks from work or chores.
Learn more about pregnancy, labor, and delivery. Read books, watch videos, go to a childbirth class, and talk with experienced moms.
Developed by RelayHealth.
Adult Advisor 2015.1 published by RelayHealth. Last modified: 2014-05-06 Last reviewed: 2014-09-17
This content is reviewed periodically and is subject to change as new health information becomes available. The information is intended to inform and educate and is not a replacement for medical evaluation, advice, diagnosis or treatment by a healthcare professional.
Later Childbearing: References
ACOG Committee Opinion 545: Noninvasive Prenatal Testing for Fetal Aneuploidy, December 2012.
ACOG Practice Bulletin: Invasive Prenatal Testing for Aneuploidy. Number 88, October 2007, Reaffirmed 2009.
ACOG Practice Bulletin: Screening for Fetal Chromosomal Abnormalities. Number 77, January 2007.
Cunningham, F., K. Leveno, S. Bloom, J. Hauth, et al. Williams Obstetrics. 23nd ed. The Mcgraw Hill Companies, Inc. 2008. Accessed December 26, 2010 from http://www.accessmedicine.com.
Gibbs, R. B. Karlan, A. Haney, I. Nygaard. Danforthâ€™s Obstetrics and Gynecology. 9th ed. Lippincott Williams and Wilkins, 2008. Accessed on February 1, 2009 from http://www.ovidsp.tx.ovid.com.
Lockwood, C. Guidelines for Perinatal Care. 7th ed. AAP and ACOG. 2012.
Ostrer,H. et al. Basic principles of genetic counseling for the obstetrical provider. Accessed March 12, 2013 from http://www.upToDate.com.