Turning 35 does not mean you are automatically at increased risk for pregnancy complications than you were at 34. 35 is just a benchmark age where women on average are at higher risk for having trouble getting pregnant or for complications in pregnancy. Keep in mind that if you are pregnant or are trying to get pregnant and you are over 35, you and your doctor can work through any complications you may have to ensure that you and your baby stay safe and healthy.
The following is a list of complications that become increasingly more likely the older a woman gets, usually after the age of 35. The complications can have an impact on pregnancy.
- Hypertension (high blood pressure): Hypertension is when the average force of blood against your blood vessels’ walls is too high. This is not always dangerous, but may cause some health complications for the mother and her baby.
- Diabetes: This is when there is too much blood sugar and it can cause organ damage. Some women have diabetes before they are pregnant, which is called preexisting diabetes. Other women can get diabetes solely during their pregnancy, otherwise known as gestational diabetes.
- Preeclampsia: This is when pregnant women have high blood pressure and signs that one or more of their organs are not properly functioning. It can cause swelling in the hands and feet, protein in the urine, severe headaches and trouble or changes with vision, as well as more serious symptoms. This usually only shows up after the 20th week of pregnancy.
All of the health complications listed above can cause additional issues with a pregnancy, as listed below. In general, older women are more likely to have the following complications.
- Multiples (twins, triplets, etc.): Older women are more likely to get pregnant with multiples, sometimes due to the fact that older women are more likely to receive fertility treatments. Having multiples can lead to complications such as premature birth, preeclampsia and diabetes.
- Birth defects: Defined as any change in the shape or function of one or more parts of a baby’s body that is present at birth, these can cause health or developmental issues for the child.
- Premature birth: This is when the baby is born before 37 weeks. Babies born prematurely are more likely to have health complications.
- Low birth weight: A baby born below 5 pounds 8 ounces is considered to be at a low weight.
- Miscarriage or stillbirth: A death in the womb is considered a miscarriage if it happens before 20 weeks. If it happens after 20 weeks, it is considered a stillbirth.
- Cesarean-section (C-section): Older women are more likely to give birth via C-section due to the higher likelihood of complications. As with any surgery, a C-section puts the mother at higher risk for health issues such as infection.
If you are 35 or over, it is important to discuss with your doctor all you can do to ensure that your baby is born healthy. It is also important for women who have reached 35 to know that a doctor may recommend fertility after six months of trying to conceive. To discuss trying to get pregnant, possible complications with your current pregnancy or any other questions or concerns you might have, schedule an appointment with a doctor at Mt. Auburn today.