Geriatric pregnancy, or pregnancy in a woman over the age of 35, has its benefits and health risks. Here are some geriatric pregnancy tips for women who want to conceive in their 40s.
The benefits of being pregnant in your 40s
We often hear that the best time to be pregnant is in your 20s and early 30s, but being pregnant in your 40s also has its advantages.
Most people in their 40s have already established a career with a steady income. This means that a woman in her 40s can afford better-quality healthcare, is entitled to a longer parental leave, and has the means to raise her child.
Women in their 40s usually have a more stable relationship with their partner. This allows the couple to make better decisions regarding who they want to start a family with. A high-quality relationship is also beneficial because it can reduce chronic stress and lower the risk of postpartum depression.
The risks of having a baby in your 40s
In discussing geriatric pregnancy tips, we also need to cover the risks of having a baby in your 40s:
Possible fertility problems
It may take you a little longer to get pregnant in your 40s. This is because your egg cells may decrease in quantity and quality. Furthermore, the egg cells of women over the age of 35 are a bit more difficult to fertilize.
If you’ve been trying to have a baby for more than 6 months, consult your doctor for a preconception check-up. This kind of appointment is typically done with a physician who specializes in helping women increase their chances of having a successful pregnancy.
During the preconception check-up, the physician may also offer some fertility treatments. In the Philippines, in vitro fertilization (test tube fertilization) and artificial insemination are common fertility treatments.
Higher risk of gestational diabetes
Reports say that the risk of developing gestational diabetes (diabetes during pregnancy) increases with age. In fact, women in their 40s have an 8 percent chance of getting gestational diabetes. When unmanaged, diabetes during pregnancy could lead to preterm birth, bigger-than-normal babies, and high blood pressure.
If you conceive in your 40s, follow your doctor’s orders about testing for diabetes. Additionally, cut back on sugary foods and drinks to avoid an unnecessary spike in your blood glucose.
Possible higher risk of preeclampsia
Preeclampsia is a pregnancy-specific condition that results in high blood pressure and the presence of protein in the urine. This condition indicates that the liver and kidneys are not functioning properly. Preeclampsia is a serious condition that may lead to complications like preterm birth, early detachment of placenta (placental abruption), and organ damage.
One of the best geriatric pregnancy tips is to monitor your blood pressure daily. The normal reading varies from person to person, but generally a BP of 120/80 mmHg is normal during pregnancy. On the other hand, a BP of above 140/90 mmHg is considered high.
The baby may experience health problems
Having your first pregnancy in your 40s also raises the risk of birth defects or health problems for the baby:
- Low birth weight
- Chromosomal abnormalities (such as Down’s syndrome)
The reasons for the increased risk of these health problems vary from person to person. For instance, it could be because the mother developed problems in her reproductive organs or experienced changes in their hormones. Similarly, a pregnant mother in her 40s might have already been exposed to certain factors that negatively affect her pregnancy, such as excessive alcohol consumption, drug use, and cigarette smoking.
Another important geriatric pregnancy tip is to work closely with your doctor. Heed their advice when it comes to screening tests that may be applicable to you and your baby. These may include tests to check for chromosomal abnormalities.
Additional tips for a healthy geriatric pregnancy
These additional geriatric pregnancy tips will also help you maintain a healthy pregnancy in your 40s:
Stick to healthy diet
Fill up your meals with unprocessed foods such as fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and good sources of fat and protein. Similarly, add nutrients that are vital for a healthy pregnancy such as folic acid, iron, calcium, and vitamin D. Your doctor will most likely give you some prenatal vitamins, so take them as advised.
Make sure that your weight gain is normal and healthy
During pregnancy, you will surely gain weight, but keep in mind that it should be healthy. To read more about healthy weight gain for pregnant mothers, read this article.
Perhaps, one of the best geriatric pregnancy tips is to get regular exercise. Working out improves blood circulation, helps you sleep better, and boosts your energy. Moreover, it also helps you prepare for labor and delivery. Of course, talk to your doctor about appropriate workouts for you.
Stay away from harmful substances
Don’t drink, smoke, or use illegal drugs while pregnant. Furthermore, if you’re taking any medication, consult your doctor. If the medications are risky, the doctor will usually give you a safe alternative.
Take care of your mental health
Another one of the geriatric pregnancy tips is to take care of your mental health. As much as possible, avoid stressful situations. Take frequent breaks at work and consider the possibility of having an early maternal leave to focus on your pregnancy.
Being pregnant in your 40s comes with its own benefits and risks. These geriatric pregnancy tips can help you achieve a healthy pregnancy. Don’t forget that constant communication with your doctor is crucial to reduce the risk of pregnancy complications.
Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.