It’s not uncommon to have heard of a woman’s window to conceive being compared to a ticking clock. With this topic comes the discussion of geriatric pregnancies and advanced maternal age. But what exactly constitutes “advanced maternal age”? As the age of first-time mothers continues to rise year after year, the answer may seem younger than you’d think.
Technically, advanced maternal age refers to women who are 35 years of age or older at the time of the delivery of her baby. This age may surprise you since so many women deliver healthy babies well into their 30s, and in certain parts of the country like New York and San Francisco, the average age of a first-time mother is about 31 years old.
In the United States overall, the average age of first-time mothers is 26, which is still significantly higher than 1972’s average of 21 years old. As with other milestones in life, 35 is just the age where certain discussions involving certain childbearing risks are worthy to be had.
Things to Know About Advanced Maternal Age
1. It might take longer to become pregnant.
As women get older, they experience a decrease in eggs that could make it more difficult for them to become pregnant. Not only do the quantity of eggs decline, but there may also be a reduced quality of eggs as well.
2. The likelihood of having a multiple pregnancy increases.
While the process of becoming pregnant may take longer, the likelihood of having twins increases with age. This is due to hormonal changes that cause a release of multiple eggs at the same time.
3. There is a higher risk of developing gestational diabetes.
Gestational diabetes is similar to other diabetes in the fact that it affects the way your body processes glucose, but unlike other types, gestational diabetes is diagnosed during pregnancy. This condition causes high blood sugar levels that, if left untreated, may affect the health of you and your baby. Fortunately, expectant mothers can help control gestational diabetes through diet and exercise.
4. There may be increased risks of other complications.
Some other potential risks of pregnancy at an advanced maternal age include having a low birth weight or premature baby, having a higher risk of chromosomal abnormalities like Downs Syndrome, and a higher risk of loss of pregnancy. Research has shown that the lower quality of eggs, combined with other chronic medical conditions more frequently occurring in advanced maternal age contributes to a higher chance of pregnancy loss.
The Good News
Fortunately, doctors today generally agree that a healthy pregnancy is less dependent on age alone, but rather the overall individual health of the potential mother. Health conditions such as high blood pressure, diabetes, and obesity pose a larger threat of pregnancy-related complications than just the age of the mother. It is recommended to eat well and stay active, both prior to and during pregnancy.
Talk to A Fertility Expert
If you have any questions about fertility or your chances of conceiving, reach out to Carolinas Fertility Institute today. We offer a wide variety of services, from fertility evaluations to In Vitro fertilization. Contact us today to schedule an initial consultation by calling our Charlotte office at (844) 686-2233 or our office in the Triad at (336) 448-9100.