By Felicia Vance
Getting pregnant after 35 may be more difficult than at age 25, but it’s not necessarily impossible. What are your chances for getting pregnant after age 35? Why is it more difficult than in your 20s and early 30s, and why do doctors recommend seeking help getting pregnant sooner than later if you’re past age 35?
Rest assured, most healthy women who get pregnant after age 35 and even into their 40s have healthy babies. That doesn’t mean, though, that that you shouldn’t think about smart steps you can take to maximize your health and your baby’s health during pregnancy.
Get early and regular prenatal care. The first eight weeks of your pregnancy are very important to your baby’s development. Early and regular prenatal care can increase your chances of having a safe pregnancy and a healthy baby. Prenatal care includes screenings, regular exams, pregnancy and childbirth education, and counseling and support.
Getting prenatal care also helps provide extra protection for women over 35. It allows your doctor to stay ahead of health conditions that are more common in women who are older when they get pregnant. For instance, your age may increase your risk for gestational diabetes and preeclampsia, a condition that causes high blood pressure along with protein in the urine. During prenatal visits, your doctor will check your blood pressure, test your urine for protein and sugar, and test your blood glucose levels. That way, any potential problems can be caught and treated early.
Consider optional prenatal tests for women over 35. Your doctor may offer you special prenatal tests that are particularly applicable for older moms. These tests help determine the risk of having a baby with a birth defect. Ask your doctor about these tests so you can learn the risks and benefits and decide what’s right for you.
Take prenatal vitamins. All women of childbearing age should take a daily prenatal vitamin containing at least 400 micrograms of folic acid. Getting enough folic acid every day before and during the first three months of pregnancy can help prevent birth defects involving a baby’s brain and spinal cord. Taking folic acid adds an important level of protection for older women, who have a higher risk of having a baby with birth defects.
You deserve the same TLC as your baby. Taking care of yourself will help you manage any existing health problems and protect you from pregnancy-related diabetes and high blood pressure. And the healthier you are the better it will be for your little one.
Keep up with other doctor appointments. If you have a chronic health problem such as diabetes or high blood pressure, be sure you keep up with your regular doctor appointments. Managing your condition before you get pregnant will keep both you and your baby healthy. Be sure to see your dentist for regular exams and cleanings too. Having healthy teeth and gums lessens the chance of preterm birth and of having a baby with a low birth weight.
Maintain a healthy, well-balanced diet. Eating a variety of foods will help you get all the nutrients you need. Choose plenty of fruits and veggies, whole grains, beans, lean meats, and low-fat dairy products. You should eat and drink at least 4 servings of dairy and calcium-rich foods every day. That way you’ll keep your teeth and bones healthy while your baby develops. Also be sure to include good food sources of folic acid, such as leafy green vegetables, dried beans, liver, and some citrus fruits.
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