Pregnancy can bring out a range of emotions, from the excitement of an incoming bundle of joy to worries over the infant’s wellbeing. For some women, pregnancy does not come until later than life, or perhaps one last little miracle comes along. This is what is referred to as geriatric pregnancy when a woman gets pregnant at 35 or older. While the term itself is quite archaic and misleading, there are underlying concerns that may come with a geriatric pregnancy. However, there are also plenty of things a woman and those in her life can do to make it an easier time.
What is geriatric pregnancy?
An older mother-to-be is considered to face greater health risks when carrying a child. This happens in geriatric pregnancy, or pregnancy for women 35 or older. The name can be misleading, as we often associate geriatrics with senior citizens as opposed to healthy women in their mid-thirties. The truth is the term is not so much pointed at pregnant women, but the eggs in their system. Women are born with all of their eggs, but as they age, so do the egg. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists cites that older eggs tend to lead to issues and abnormalities during pregnancy.
Now, this doesn’t mean that a woman 35 or older can’t have a healthy baby. Problems can arise for pregnant women of any age. With women 35+, there is an increased risk of issues like preeclampsia, dangerously high blood pressure that can lead to potential organ damage or gestational diabetes. There’s also the fear of other significant issues such as stillbirth, miscarriage, or a chromosome abnormality for the newborn.
What to Expect When You’re Expecting
Whether it’s your first pregnancy or your fourth, sixth, second, or ninth, a geriatric pregnancy is approached a bit differently. Prenatal screening can detect a number of issues. While this may identify certain medical problems for the newborn, it will not determine any genetic disorders or issues. That requires blood testing and ultrasounds are done between 11-14 weeks that can detect anomalies such as Down syndrome. Genetic testing is more invasive, taking cells from the placenta wall in order to diagnose certain health issues.
Beyond prenatal and genetic testing, obstetricians and gynecologists may order more invasive testing such as amniocentesis, in which a needle is sent through the abdominal wall to retrieve amniotic fluid. Of course, this varies with each pregnancy, keeping in mind the higher risk of complications based on the mother’s preexisting conditions as well. In most cases, the results from a 12-week ultrasound will determine the path forward.
Every pregnancy comes with potential risks, and that’s where prenatal care is so important. It’s very important to undergo regular checkups with your care team leading up to the baby’s arrival. Health problems can arise, but one number to keep an eye on, in particular, is your blood pressure. The lingering risk of preeclampsia can be a red flag for high blood pressure. A healthy lifestyle is important to implement to avoid any increased chance of issues for the newborn.
This includes avoiding tobacco, marijuana, and alcohol use. While weight gain is associated with carrying, there is a healthy weight gain. Exercise and a healthy diet are crucial. It doesn’t mean you can’t have cheats and cravings, but you need a regular health plan, accompanied by the right prenatal vitamin to benefit overall health. You also want to assess your mental health. Websites like therapistsincharlotte.com can help find the right therapist to better address any feelings that may be leading to worries. After all, stress is not good for the fetus. The best chances for success come with healthy habits.