Geriatric pregnancy is a rarely used term for having a baby when a woman is 35 or older. It was used in the 1970s to refer to pregnancies observed in women over the age of 35 years considered as an age of high risk pregnancy. However, it is an outdated term and most healthcare providers today prefer to use the term ‘advanced maternal age’.
These pregnancies after 30 have an increased risk for certain complications like miscarriage, genetic disorders, and certain pregnancy complications like high blood pressure or gestational diabetes. However, a healthy lifestyle and certain precautionary measures can maximise the possibility of a healthy pregnancy even if you are having a baby after 40.
There are some risks and benefits of pregnancy after 30. Read on to know more.
Here’s everything you need to know about geriatric pregnancy risks.
What Are The Risks Of A Geriatric Pregnancy?
There are risks with pregnancy at any age. But complication rates increase with age and may be as much as double over the age of 40 (an age of high risk pregnancy), compared to pregnant mums who are aged 20 to 34. Some of the risks of a geriatric pregnancy are:
Quad Marker Screen: A quad marker screen is a blood test that is performed between the 15th and 20th weeks of pregnancy. It measures substances in the blood that show:
Problems with a baby’s brain and spinal cord, called neural tube defects.
Genetic disorders such as Down syndrome.
Amniocentesis: An amniocentesis is a prenatal test that can diagnose genetic disorders like Down syndrome and spina bifida and other health issues during pregnancy.
Chorionic Villus Sampling (CVS): CVS is an alternative to amniocentesis and can detect birth defects during early pregnancy.
Common Problems In Pregnancy After 30
Some of the common problems in pregnancies after 30 are:
Gestational diabetes: This type of diabetes occurs only during pregnancy and is more common as women get older. Strict control of blood sugar through diet and physical activity is a mandate.
If left untreated, gestational diabetes can cause the baby to grow significantly larger than average, increasing the risk of injuries during delivery. Gestational diabetes can also increase the risk of high blood pressure during pregnancy, and complications to your infant after delivery.
Risk of chromosome abnormalities: In case of pregnancies after 35, the risk of chromosome abnormalities is higher. Babies born to older mums are at an increased risk of certain chromosome problems, such as Down syndrome.
Twin pregnancy risks: The chance of having twins increases with age due to hormonal changes that could lead to the release of multiple eggs at the same time.
Pregnancy loss: The risk of pregnancy loss (by miscarriage and stillbirth) increases as you get older and this is perhaps due to pre-existing medical conditions or foetal chromosomal abnormalities.
According to research, the decrease in the quality of your eggs along with an increased risk of chronic medical conditions such as high blood pressure and diabetes might increase your risk of miscarriage.
Geriatric Pregnancy Benefits
Women who decide to have a baby later in life have more life experience and financial stability. Studies have shown that older mums tend to be better educated and have more financial resources than younger moms.
Some Important Tips to Take Care In Geriatric Pregnancy
Although a geriatric pregnancy involves complications, following some important tips can lead to healthy pregnancies. Here are some tips to take care in geriatric pregnancy:
Attend all your prenatal appointments and screenings: You must attend all your prenatal appointments to help your health care provider monitor your developing baby.
Gain the right amount of weight during pregnancy: Try to gain the right amount of weight during this crucial time. It will support your baby’s health.
Eat a healthy diet: You’ll need more folic acid, calcium, iron, vitamin D and other essential nutrients. Do not miss your daily prenatal vitamin.
Stay active: Regular exercise with doctor’s approval can boost your energy level and improve your overall health. It can also help you prepare for labour and childbirth by increasing your muscle strength.
Prenatal testing: You can discuss with your doctor about prenatal tests available to screen for certain chromosomal abnormalities in your developing baby.
Manage any pre-existing or new pregnancy conditions: There are certain pre-existing medical conditions like diabetes, obesity, lupus, renal disease and hypertension that need to be monitored for a healthy delivery.
Reduce your stress levels and get enough sleep: It is advisable to keep stress at bay and get adequate sleep throughout your pregnancy.
Limit caffeine intake: It is advised to limit caffeine intake as it might lead to foetal growth restriction which could result in low birth weight and even miscarriage.
According to studies, the rate of people having their first baby in their late 30s is rising every year. Most pregnancies over the age of 35 are healthy and successful as long as there is a close monitoring in the prenatal period and even during the pregnancy. In most cases, the age of conceiving is just a number. If you maintain a healthy weight and manage any conditions you have as per your healthcare provider, you are likely to deliver a healthy baby.