Remember the days when women were expected to start popping out children by the time they were teenagers? Yeah, me neither. Nowadays it is extremely taboo to be a teen mom. The tides are changing once again and having children later in life is becoming increasingly common. This could be due to the rising number of women in the workforce. They are spending more time focusing on their career and putting off having a family until they are more settled. While this is great for women and their independence, their life goals are not going to stop their biological clock from ticking away.
It was commonly believed that having a child past the age of 30 starts to get risky. However, there is actually a ton of evidence to show that women can have children much later than we originally thought. Of course, as a woman ages, the risks that come with pregnancy increase, but many older women have super easy pregnancies as well.
As a woman gets older, it can be harder for her to conceive in general. If she has a dream of starting a family one day and wants children biologically, there is a good chance that she has done her research and is well aware that the prime age to conceive is between 20 and 35 years old. For those women who are over 35 and still want kids, it is important for them to know these 15 things that might happen to them.
15 Higher Chance Of An 'Unnatural' Birth
Most women don’t like the idea of having a c-section. The thought of being sliced open and having your baby pulled out from your stomach is a little bit traumatizing. Plus, women who have c-sections have basically undergone surgery. They have to be stitched back up and deal with their stitches healing while also juggling a newborn baby.
As painful and scary as childbirth can be, it is widely preferred over the alternative.
Unfortunately, older women are much more likely to be told to prepare for a c-section instead of a vaginal delivery. The older women get, the more dangerous and complicated pregnancies become. Trying to push out a baby for hours and hours can become harmful to an older woman and her unborn baby very quickly. According to WebMD, even older pregnant women who are very low risk tend to have more c-sections on average, simply because of their age.
14 Accidents Happen More
Pregnancy is known to really push on the bladder and women carrying a baby may have little accidents every once in a while. As the baby grows inside the mother’s whom, so does the amount of pressure that baby is putting on their mother’s bladder. Starting at about six to eight weeks of pregnancy, the woman will constantly feel the need to urinate and unfortunately, this feeling will not go away until the baby is born.
Now, when it comes to older women, their bladders are usually less controllable already. According to Mayo Clinic, women over 40 have less control over their bladder and less control over their constant need for a restroom. When you combine this with the added pressure of carrying a baby, older pregnant women may find themselves having a few accidents during their nine months of pregnancy. A good rule of thumb is to avoid beverages like coffee and tea since they have a diuretic effect.
13 Out Of Control Weight Gain
Maintaining a healthy diet and doing moderate exercise while pregnant is extremely important for the mother and the baby. It doesn’t matter how old you are, proper nutrition and care are essential for any healthy pregnancy. Although weight gain is part of any normal pregnancy, it is best when it is gradual and builds over the course of a few months as the baby grows too. While eating a very unhealthy diet is never advised when you are pregnant, it is not the only thing that could cause an excessive amount of weight gain.
Simple biology, stress, and hormones can all be attributed to an unhealthy amount of weight gain during pregnancy.
According to Health, women over 40 are more prone to health risks associated with weight gain, especially during pregnancy. This means it is essential for older women especially to prioritize a well-balanced diet and exercise.
12 Leg Cramps From Lack Of Nutrients
Older pregnant women might feel more painful leg cramps than other women simply because our muscles and nerves function less effectively as we get older. Since leg cramps are also a fairly common pregnancy symptom because of the added weight of carrying a baby, older pregnant women will likely have it the worst. Leg cramps are caused by our muscles tightening and sending pains or aches through the body.
According to LiveStrong.com, leg cramps are a sign that you are missing something in your body. Eating a diet that lacks potassium, magnesium or calcium can cause mineral deficiencies. Cramps could also be caused by dehydration, a lack of sodium, or just lacking nutrients in general. As the pregnancy progresses, it is important to be prioritizing your health in order to reduce leg cramps, but again if they persist, a doctor should be consulted.
11 Body Becomes Stiff As A Board
According to Women and Infants, a backache is one of the earliest signs that a woman is pregnant. During pregnancy, the body goes through many changes which include hormonal and physical discomfort. The extra weight that a baby causes on your body makes the lower back of a pregnant woman sore because her muscles are straining, causing her body to get stiff and sore.
Since older women are already prone to more joint and muscle pain that younger ones, pregnancy stiffness can be extra painful for them.
Some of the ways suggested to relieve this back pain is to stay off of your feet. Too much walking, moving, and standing when you are pregnant can cause extra strain on a woman’s back. On the other hand, avoid lying or sleeping on your back. Exercise, strengthening your core, and a support belt are all recommended but if symptoms persist it may be best to see a chiropractor.
10 Exaggerating Their Exhaustion
Being pregnant can take a lot out of a woman at any age. Besides the breast pain and possible light bleeding, there is also fatigue and exhaustion. According to AmericanPregnancy.org changes in hormone levels that a woman goes through when she is pregnant, any little change in her body can make her feel way more exhausted than normal. Some pregnant women say that getting out of bed in the morning feels like the hardest thing in the world.
When you are an older pregnant woman, your body is already beginning to move past the prime childbearing age. Therefore, all the negative experiences associated with pregnancy are likely to be intensified because older women are more prone to suffer from things like high blood pressure, high blood sugar, chronic diseases and even stress. All of these things can cause pregnancy fatigue to be amplified.
9 Fear Of Being Judged
Most of us are aware of the stereotype that young or teen mothers get in society today. If you had your baby when you were still in high school, you are automatically categorized as a screw-up and an unprepared mother. It takes a lot for teen moms to show that they are worthy and capable of loving and providing for a child.
However, so often we as a society cast the same kind of judgment on older moms as well.
According to the Guardian, many older women who desperately want to start a family later in life feel like they have already missed their opportunity. The idea of attending a kindergarten classroom, school plays, or even a mom’s club with moms that are half their age is scary. And, we as a society need to do a better job of including all moms, despite their age.
8 Mood Swings Cause Extreme Waterworks
Pregnancy emotions are real and uncontrollable at times. When women get overly emotional during a movie or break down crying at work because someone ate their favorite donut, their raging pregnancy hormones are usually to blame. Mood swings are a general response to stress and can occur when you are pregnant or going through menopause. This stress can negatively affect the baby which is why it is important to monitor.
According to BabyCenter, fluctuating hormone levels are normal in pregnant women, but women who are pregnant and over the age of 35 will likely have more intense hormonal fluctuations, and their mood swings will have a greater impact on their mental and physical well-being. It is important to recognize that these extreme mood changes are normal so that you don’t let them harm the baby.
7 Mistaking Tenderness For Menopause
Breast tenderness is a very common symptom that occurs when any woman is pregnant. However, when you are younger and trying for a child, it can be more noticeable. According to Modern Mom, soreness and tenderness of the breasts are normal hormonal changes that the body goes through in the early stages of pregnancy. In the early weeks after conception, breasts begin to grow and prepare to feed your baby.
However, for older women breast sensitivity and hormonal changes could also be a sign of menopause.
If an older woman is not expecting or trying for a baby, there is a good chance that she could overlook these early pregnancy symptoms and simply think it is apart of aging. Since the symptoms are so similar, it is important for older women to be aware of this factor.
6 Fear Of Chronic Disease Or Illness
Some women suffer from health issues for their entire life. While things like hypertension or high blood pressure could always cause pregnancies to be more dangerous, the risk is especially higher for older women who have chronic diseases. As a woman leaves the normal childbearing age, her body is more likely to have a negative impact on the child than a younger body would with the same condition.
According to U.S.News.com, pregnancy is described as a stress test for the body. A chronic disease does not mean that you can’t still have a healthy pregnancy, it is just important to make sure that your symptoms are under control before you conceive. It is also advised to be extremely health conscious while you are pregnant in order to avoid passing on any negative side effects to your baby.
5 Suffering From Acute Headaches
According to the American Pregnancy Association, massive spikes in hormones can cause bad headaches in women at any point in their pregnancy. However, because the headaches are caused by a shift in the hormone levels, they can likely be assumed to be apart of menopause in older women. There is a chance that this pregnancy symptom along with the others mentioned above could be ignored by women over 35 or 40 if they were not actively trying to get pregnant. This is why it is important for older women especially to be aware of common pregnancy symptoms so they are not mistaken for menopause symptoms.
Luckily, headaches are usually treatable with medicine like Advil. However, other ways pregnant women can release their tension headaches include cold packs, eating regular meals, getting enough sleep, and reducing stress. A good practice for this relaxation technique is meditation or yoga. However, if the headaches persist, seeing a doctor is advised.
4 Constant Hot Flashes
Hot flashes are a very common sign of aging. They often occur when a woman is going through menopause, but they are also a common pregnancy symptom as well. Since hot flashes are usually the marker of a woman starting menopause, it can be hard to tell if an older woman is experiencing them because of normal aging or because she is pregnant. This is why older women who are intimately active and capable of becoming pregnant should keep these things in mind.
When a woman becomes pregnant, her body temperature increases quite a bit.
What would usually be considered a high fever for the normal person, is actually normal for a woman who is pregnant. As the hormones fluctuate, the hot flashes occur. Luckily, this pregnancy symptom is not usually in the first trimester. According to BabyCentre, the hot flashes usually occur in the second or third trimester but they can persist even after giving birth while the hormone levels balance back out.
3 Bigger Emphasis On Avoiding Junk
According to the Diabetes Research and Wellness Foundation, older women who are pregnant run a much higher risk of developing gestational diabetes. The older a woman gets, the more at risk she becomes. Other factors such as family history and body weight can also have an effect on whether or not a pregnant woman gets gestational diabetes. Because of this, pregnant women over 40 need to be extra careful when it comes to their diet and exercise habits.
Most women who do develop gestational diabetes don’t get it until the later part of their pregnancy. However, it is still a very dangerous and uncomfortable issue to be dealing with while you are pregnant, so the best option is the focus on remaining as healthy as possible. Filling your body with fruits, vegetables, and healthy whole foods will decrease any woman’s odds of becoming insulin resistant and developing health issues during pregnancy.
2 Severe Nausea Is Taken More Seriously
About 70 to 80 percent of pregnant women experience some form of nausea during their pregnancy, according to Expecting Science. While many women absolutely hate feeling sick or like they are going to throw up all the time, there is actually a plus side to it all. Nausea actually signifies a healthy pregnancy. Of course, there are those few lucky women who don’t experience any morning sickness at all and still give birth to perfectly healthy babies. However, most women will usually feel some sort of morning sickness or nausea during a healthy pregnancy.
The tricky part here is understanding the difference between feeling nauseous and throwing up just a little, versus extreme vomiting and severe nausea.
Since women over 35 are more prone to complications during pregnancy, it is important for them to see a doctor if their morning sickness becomes extreme. The vomiting could be associated with other symptoms or issues with the pregnancy that need to be addressed.
1 Prenatal Vitamins Become Essential
According to Livestrong.com, your body goes through physical and psychological changes as you get older and this requires them to increase their nutrients. Since pregnancy also requires an increase in vitamins and nutrients at any age, older pregnant women need to be especially aware of these health requirements. Prenatal vitamins help support the growing baby and health of the mother at any age, but women over 40 are already lacking the basic nutrients that they need in order to be healthy.
Things like folic acid, calcium, and vitamin D are crucial for pregnant women as well as women trying to conceive. It is believed that 75% of babies born each year with neural-tube defects could have been prevented with a folic acid supplement. Because older women are already lacking so many crucial vitamins, prenatal supplements are especially essential for their health.
References: Modern Mom, AmericanPregnancy.org, U.S. News.com, Mayo Clinic, BabyCenter.com, AmericanPregnancyAssociation.org, WomenandInfants, LiveStrong, BabyCentre, Diabetes Research & Wellness Foundation, WebMD, Expecting Science, Health, LiveStrong.com, The Guardian