There are many reasons that women are waiting until they are over 35 to have children. Some women choose to wait for schooling and career reasons, other might have health issues that necessitate a delay in pregnancy. Be realistic with yourself and with your husband or partner about the potential risks and challenges of conceiving and having a baby at 35, including the possibility of long-term bed rest. Whether it’s her first or fifth child, if a woman prepares properly, she can still have a healthy pregnancy and deliver a healthy baby at 35.
Educate yourself on the risks of becoming pregnant at 35. Some of the risks involve conceiving; fertility decreases the older a woman becomes. Certain risks involve the mother’s health; there is an increase in high blood pressure and diabetes in older mothers. Other risks involve the baby as the older a mother is, the greater her chance is of having multiple births or a child born with a genetic disorder or birth defect. There are also risks involving the pregnancy itself, including miscarriage, placenta previa or the increased chance for a Cesarean section.
Talk with your doctor before getting pregnant. Your husband or partner might want to be at this appointment. Discuss any health conditions you have that might complicate, or be complicated by, a pregnancy. Bring medications you are taking now, as well as vitamins and supplements. Talk about any personal situations, such as a stressful job or your husband being away due to his job, that might affect a pregnancy.
Prepare for pregnancy. Lose excess weight, eat a healthy diet and exercise regularly. Stop smoking and don’t drink or take illegal drugs. Your doctor might suggest genetic testing, such as the multiple marker screen, that can determine whether you are at a risk of having a child born with a genetic disorder like Down syndrome or a birth defect like spina bifida. Your doctor might suggest that you take certain vitamins, including folic acid (also known as folate) to help reduce the risk of a baby born with neural tube defects. Due to the decrease in fertility in older women, if pregnancy hasn’t occurred after 6 months, contact your doctor.
Continue a healthy lifestyle once you’re pregnant, including a healthy diet and regular moderate exercise. Gain the recommended amount of weight; pregnancy is not the time to try to lose weight. Never take any medication, herb or supplement unless it is under your doctor’s direction. Get proper rest and reduce the stress in your life. Your doctor might suggest certain tests, like an amniocentesis or a chorionic villi that are used to detect genetic problems in the baby.
Schedule an appointment with an obstetrician as soon as you know you’re pregnant. Pregnancies after 35 are considered high risk so your doctor might schedule more frequent prenatal visits. Write down questions you want to ask your doctor between visits and contact him immediately if you experience bleeding, low fetal movement, pain or contractions.