Women have been told for years that once they turn 35, pregnancy becomes much more difficult – more difficult to conceive and continue without complications. While there is some truth to that, it’s not as bad as some make it sound. “The majority of women ages 35 and older have normal, healthy pregnancies,” says Dr. Danae Steele, the Maternal Fetal Medicine Specialist with Fox Valley Perinatology. “Especially if there are no pre-existing conditions and the woman is healthy overall. If you’re over 35 and would like to start trying to conceive, I recommend the following:
- See an OB/GYN to see if there are any pre-existing conditions or health concerns that could lead to a more complicated or high risk pregnancy.
- Start taking 400 mg of folic acid daily for at least one month before trying to conceive.
- Take control of your health and get things like your blood sugars and weight at healthy levels.
- Stop smoking, drinking alcohol and taking illegal drugs.
- If you’ve been trying for six months and are not yet pregnant, get in touch with your OB/GYN to see if there are any underlying issues.
“There are risk factors to waiting to get pregnant, however I see plenty of women getting pregnant at ages 35 years and older having healthy pregnancies. It may take more time than planned or assistance from fertility treatments, but it’s very common nowadays for women to wait until their career is more established, or whatever the case may be, before having kids. Women should be aware of some general facts regarding fertility and maintaining a healthy pregnancy, including:
- As women age, our fertility does decrease. The quality of the eggs can deteriorate over time, which can increase the time it takes to conceive and lead to a higher chance of miscarriage. Other problems, such as uterine fibroids and endometriosis, are also more common as we age and may affect fertility.
- There is an increased risk of having a baby with a chromosomal abnormality, such as Down syndrome, as we age because eggs may not divide as accurately as we get older.
- Women are prone to conditions such as chronic hypertension and diabetes as we age, which can set the stage for a high risk pregnancy. “
Dr. Steele works with women in the Fox Valley who are experiencing high risk pregnancies to help develop a treatment approach that has the best interests of the baby and mother in mind.