It’s no surprise that more women are choosing to start their families later in life. Having a baby when you’re in greater control of your emotional, professional, financial and spiritual health comes with many benefits. And as the average age of first-time parents continues to rise, having a baby in your thirties is no longer an exception. It’s quickly becoming a norm. There are many positives to having a baby in your early to mid-30’s but it also comes with a few caveats to keep in mind. Here are the top four things you should know about pregnancy in your 30’s.
1) Conception may take a little longer
According to the American pregnancy association the average time it takes couples over 35 to conceive is approximately 1-2 years. So, for older couples trying to have a baby timing must be balanced with patience.
For couples that haven’t conceived after 6 months of purposeful intercourse (2-3 times a week), then a trip to your healthcare provider may be warranted. They can carry out a pre-pregnancy checkup and asses any fertility problems that may be present.
2) Fertility over time
Research suggests that a woman’s fertility starts to decline in her early thirties. And this decline accelerates around the age of 35. By the age of 40, the chances of a successful pregnancy have halved. So, while there is no rush to have a baby at this moment, it is best to keep in mind that timing does matter. Additionally, a man’s fertility is also affected by age.
If the decision has been made with a partner to have children in the near future, then a little bit of planning and foresight should go into deciding exactly when to start trying.
3) Certain risks of later childbearing increase
Women who get pregnant in their late 30’s have a higher risk of complications such as:
- An increased risk of having high blood pressure during pregnancy
- An increased risk of having a baby with a congenital abnormality, such as Down’s syndrome
- An increased risk of complications during delivery, such as prolonged labour, a need for assisted delivery or a cesarean section
None of these risks are absolute. Not every single woman over the age of thirty is guaranteed to develop all (or any) of these complications. As women get older their reproductive system changes and other health issues crop up. These risks are simply a reflection of those changes that the body undergoes. However, despite these risks it is important to remember that the overwhelming majority of women in their 30’s will go on to have a happy and healthy pregnancy.
4) Pregnancy will be a little tougher on the body
We all instinctively know that as we get older our body starts to slow down. Nights out take a higher toll on the body, bouncing back from an injury takes longer and aches and pains start to creep in. Being pregnant when you’re older is no different. The physical changes of pregnancy can take a larger toll on your body as well.
The best way to prepare for this is to stay physically fit prior to pregnancy and beyond. Once pregnant, try to maintain a pregnancy-safe exercise routine. It can help you to feel strong and minimize pregnancy-related physical symptoms.
Tips to have a safe and successful pregnancy
Here are some tips of things you can do to make getting pregnant in your 30’s a little easier:
- Schedule a pre-conception appointment with your doctor. The earlier you do this the better.
- Keep it healthy. Alcohol, smoking and caffeine can negatively affect fertility. If you indulge in any of these habits excessively then consider stopping or at the very least, cutting back
- Being overweight or underweight can also affect fertility. Both interfere with hormone function
- Consider taking an at-home fertility screening test. An ovulation predictor kit or a fertility kit that tests for the hormone FSH can help you figure out when your ovaries will release an egg.
- Once pregnant make sure to keep up with regular pre-natal care. This is particularly important for older women
Despite some challenges, many women in their thirties and forties will successfully conceive with no difficulty. Rest assured, you can become a mom in your late 30s or even into your 40s. Just be aware that you might face a few more hurdles along the way and do some pre-pregnancy planning.
1) American pregnancy association. Trying to Conceive After Age 35.