Pregnancy after Age 35

By United Family Healthcare 2023-05-10 12:38:55

United Family shares what every woman should know

The age for giving birth is later today than it was in generations before. United Family Obstetrics & Gynecology physician Jane Shen talks about the risks of pregnancy after 35 and gives suggestions on preparation and care for a healthy pregnancy even if mothers have had previous successful experiences.

How will a woman’s physical condition change after 35? What risks will they face if they bear babies after 35?

Many women think that if they previously had successful deliveries, they would not have problems having kids over 35 either. But actually, there are risks that become more discussion-worthy at this age threshold, as physical conditions will naturally change. Here are some of the risks they may face.

1. Chromosome Abnormalities

Their eggs may not be in the best condition any longer and clinical research has found that babies born to older mothers have a higher risk of chromosomal abnormalities, such as Down's Syndrome. Here is a chart showing the incidence of Down's Syndrome for babies grows with the mothers' age.

Therefore, it is always suggested that expecting mothers have pre-pregnancy check-ups and regular antenatal care at a hospital. If they have a history of miscarriage or embryo growth arrest, they should receive pre-pregnancy genetic tests together with their husbands to give their baby the best start.

2. Gestational Diabetes

Women over 35 also face a higher risk of developing gestational diabetes. This type of diabetes, which occurs only during pregnancy, is more common as women get older. Gestational diabetes can cause a baby to grow significantly larger than average, which may cause difficulty in delivery.

And those who have suffered gestational diabetes also have a 30 percent risk of developing Stage-II Diabetes after 40 years old. Their children are also at a higher risk for diabetes as their pancreatic islets would have been overused as foetuses.

3. Reproductive Difficulties

Older women's eggs aren't fertilised as easily as younger women's eggs and they might need assisted reproductive technologies, such as in vitro fertilization (IVF). Women with a history of induced abortion are also at a higher risk of problems, such as placenta praevia and postpartum haemorrhage.


What preparations should couples make?

1. Pre-pregnancy check-up

Get a general pre-pregnancy check-up for possible problems, such as hypothyroidism, a condition resulting from decreased production of thyroid hormones. Untreated hypothyroidism can cause health problems including infertility.

2. Early folic acid supplements

Women over 35 should take folic acid three months before conception to prevent neural tube birth defects.

3. A healthy diet and regular physical activity

Women who prepare to bear babies should maintain a healthy and well-balanced diet and do regular physical activities to improve their health.

During pregnancy, it will be more difficult for expecting mothers to keep their weight constant, which might cause gestational diabetes and high blood pressure. So, starting with a reasonable weight level and health condition is a better choice.

4. No smoking or drinking

Both parents are advised to stop smoking or drinking at least three months before conception as these substances can easily cause maldevelopment or malformation of babies.


What is the appropriate pregnancy spacing?

The World Health Organization (WHO) suggests mothers wait at least 18 months after giving birth before trying to get pregnant again. It reduces the risks of complications such as miscarriage, preterm labour, gestational hypertension, or preeclampsia.


What should be done during pregnancy to ensure healthy growth of babies and the health of expectant mothers?

Like other pregnant women, women over 35 should eat a healthy diet, stay active and seek regular prenatal care.

1. During pregnancy, women need more folic acid, calcium, iron, vitamin D and other essential nutrients. So, eat a healthy diet.

2. Pregnant women still need to do physical activities to help ease or prevent discomfort and improve overall health to support the healthy growth of babies. It can also help prepare for childbirth by increasing your stamina and muscle strength.

It is suggested to exercise two or three times a week, without the risk of falling or overdoing it, such as quick walking, swimming, and yoga. Consult doctors for a list of recommended activities.

3. Prenatal check-ups are crucial. Mothers who have given birth before might think they can handle it by themselves, but many problems can only be found in medical examinations, such as placenta previa and gestational diabetes.


What is post-pregnancy care for mothers over 35?

Mothers should continue taking vitamins and ad-ditional calcium, as they did during pregnancy.

Besides the loss of nutrients in feeding babies, women older than 35 also face bone aging and need more supplements to fill in the gaps. Some women who suffered from postnatal haemorrhage may need an iron supplement. Therefore, food alone can't provide enough nutrients for nursing mothers and additional supplements are necessary.


Dr. Jane Shen
Dr. Shen is highly skilled in cases of pregnancy complications like gestational diabetes, Fetal Growth Restriction (FGR), and cases of high-risk pregnancies.

United Family Healthcare
Tel: 400 639 3900