If you’re considering getting pregnant after age 35, you’re not alone. Many women are considering having babies well into their 30s, and they’re having healthy babies. But there are some things you should know if you’re trying to have a baby at a later age.
Age and Fertility: What You Need to Know
It could take longer to get pregnant
A woman is born with the number of eggs she’ll have throughout her life. In your 30s, the number and quality of the eggs begins to decrease. If you’re over 35 and haven’t been able to conceive after six months of trying, you may want to schedule an appointment with a fertility specialist.
You’re more likely to develop complications
- Gestational diabetes is more common in older women. Diet and exercise can help, but sometimes medication is needed. Gestational diabetes can lead to larger babies.
- Gestational hypertension, or high blood pressure that develops in pregnancy, is more likely in older women. You may need more monitoring and may need to deliver early if this happens.
- Increased chance of C-section: Older mothers have a higher risk of complications that could lead to a C-section.
- Increased rate of twin pregnancy: Age increases the chance of multiple pregnancy, as does the need for fertility treatment.
Your baby is more likely to develop complications
In addition to facing a higher risk for complications during your pregnancy, your baby is also at more risk.
- Increased risk of low birth weight: Older women are more likely to deliver early, and premature babies are at risk for medical complications.
- Risk of chromosomal abnormalities increases: At age 30 you have a 1 in 900 chance of having a baby with Down’s syndrome. By age 35 your risk is 1 in 350. After age 40 it’s 1 in 100, and after age 45 it’s 1 in 30.
- Increased risk of pregnancy loss: The risk of miscarriage and stillbirth increases with age.
Facts about the female fertility cycle
Most healthy couples who have frequent unprotected intercourse are able to conceive within one year. If you have trouble getting pregnant, or if you’re 35 or older and have been trying for six months or more, it’s time to see a fertility specialist.
Know your cycle
All cycles vary. Using a calendar to track your cycle is a good way to know when you’re the most fertile. Track day one as the first day of your period, and track the last day as the day before your period begins. Most women are fertile about two weeks after the first day of their cycle.
In addition to your age, your overall health is important. Keep these important things in mind, especially when you're trying to get pregnant:
- Maintain a healthy weight through exercise and healthy/clean eating
- Avoid smoking or drinking alcohol
- Take a prenatal vitamin with 400mcg of folic acid daily
- Make sure your vaccines are up to date
- If you have chronic illness such as diabetes or hypertension, work with your primary care provider to manage these conditions both before and during pregnancy