Geriatric pregnancy is a medical term used to describe pregnancy in women older than 35 years. American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) states that a woman intending to be pregnant after the age of 35 is considered in advanced maternal age. This may increase the risk of complications in her pregnancies (1). Nevertheless, there could be benefits of pregnancy after 35, and you may be able to reduce the risk of pregnancy problems.
Read on to learn about the risks, benefits, and other key aspects of geriatric pregnancy.
What Are The Risks And Complications Of Geriatric Pregnancy?
- Fertility problems – reduced chance of pregnacy per month
- Multiple pregnancies
- Gestational diabetes
- Hypertension and blood pressure disorders (such as preeclampsia)
- Having babies with congenital disabilities and chromosomal abnormalities
- Having induced labor, prolonged labor, assisted delivery, or emergency cesarean delivery and fetal distress
- Other delivery-related complications such as postpartum hemorrhage, the breech position of the baby, placenta previa or
- placental abruption, premature birth, or baby with low birth weight
Are There Any Benefits Of Geriatric Pregnancy?
- Older moms are more likely to be emotionally and financially ready and confident to have a child, making the journey of parenthood enjoyable.
- Older women may most likely have a better socio-economic status, expanded career opportunities, and health behaviors than their younger selves. These could have a positive impact on the parenting style.
- Children born to older mothers may have better health, education, and lifestyle.
- Some studies suggest that older mothers tend to show better mood and happiness around and after childbirth than younger mothers.
How To Increase The Chances Of Having A Healthy Baby?
Making the right choices, even before conception, is the best way to increase the chances of a healthy baby after a geriatric pregnancy. You may consider the following practices for a healthy pregnancy and safe delivery (7) (8).
- Stay physically active, manage your weight, and maintain an appropriate BMI
- Have a healthy, balanced diet
- Avoid smoking, using illegal drugs, or consuming alcohol
- Avoid using any medications without consulting your doctor
- Ensure proper treatment and correct management of medical conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure, thyroid abnormalities, and depression
- Reduce your stress levels to mitigate effects on your pregnancy
- Avoid certain foods that may not be advisable for a healthy pregnancy
- Cut down on caffeine intake before and during pregnancy
- Stay away from harmful chemicals
- Protect yourself from infections through immunizations and good hygiene practices
How To Lower The Risk Of Pregnancy Problems?
Taking good care of yourself and paying special attention to certain factors could decrease the risk of certain problems in pregnancy after 35 (7).
- Get a prenatal health screening to understand the degree of pregnancy risk. The tests may help detect potential risk of birth defects in the baby.
- If any preexisting medical conditions are present, it should be made sure the medications you are taking are safe to the baby, as some medications can cause abnormalities in the baby.
- Maintain a proper diet, hydration, and body weight. Being underweight or overweight can make you more susceptible to health issues in pregnancy. Make sure to have a balanced, nutritious diet and daily exercise.
- Talk to your doctor and have all the essential immunization shots and regular antenatal checkups.
- Speak to your doctor or a certified dietician and have prenatal vitamins and minerals such as folic acid, calcium, and vitamin D.
- Educate yourself about pregnancy care. Speak to your doctor and learn the various ultrasound scans and tests you need to undergo through your pregnancy. These tests could help detect any problem early and help avoid any complications (9).
- You may have detailed discussions with your healthcare providers about your health conditions, medical/family history, medications, potential risks, and possible pregnancy outcomes (10).
Every woman, who wants to be a mother, may have most likely heard that it is not advisable to postpone pregnancy after a certain age, usually after 35. However, at the same time, not all women who experience geriatric pregnancy develop pregnancy- or birth-related problems (1). Pregnancy is a personal choice, and you must choose what you feel is the best for you. Nevertheless, geriatric pregnancy does carry some risks. Speak to your doctor and get adequate screenings before conception. Maintain strict prenatal care to mitigate any chances of complications and ensure a healthy you and baby.
- What Is a Geriatric Pregnancy?
- Risks of Pregnancy Over Age 30.
- ReetaLampinen, et al., A Review of Pregnancy in Women Over 35 Years of Age.
- M Jolly, et al.The risks associated with pregnancy in women aged 35 years or older.
- Pregnancy and birth for women over 35.
- M. Myrskyla, et al., Advantages of later motherhood.
- Pregnancy After Age 35.
- What happens if I’m pregnant over the age of 40?
- Advanced maternal age and risk perception: A qualitative study.
- Older Moms, Healthy Babies.