Times have truly changed. Gone are the days of people starting families before or by the age of 25. More and more people are waiting to get married and have children. As women have found their way in the workforce, more women are seeing the value in waiting to have kids. Young people today especially are more concerned with building their careers and a more stable future. Enjoying themselves now and putting off more serious concerns like children and marriage for a later date. This is great in terms of career and life goals, but it does not keep the biological clock from ticking.
As women get older, their chances of conception get slimmer and slimmer. The prime childbearing age range remains between 20 and 35 years of age. This does not mean that women who are beyond this age cannot conceive or have a successful pregnancy, but it does mean that getting pregnant and having a healthy pregnancy can become harder. Everything from conception to pregnancy symptoms and labor can get more complicated with age. Some women who conceive after 35 even experience different types of symptoms compared to their younger counterparts.
Still, there are more women waiting to have children until after 35 or later which means that it is important for these women and others who may decide to wait, to know what pregnancy could be like for them and what types of symptoms they could face. Below is our list of 15 pregnancy symptoms that women over 35 may experience.
15 Mid-Cycle Spotting
One of the most common early pregnancy symptoms is spotting or light bleeding. Cramping or light spotting a few days following conception is normal for most women. This usually occurs around 6 to 12 days after a baby is conceived. This mid-cycle spotting can occur when the embryo becomes burrowed into the woman’s uterine wall.
Pregnant women can also miss periods. This is usually amongst the first signs of pregnancy for younger women, but it can be overlooked by older women who could mistake their missed cycle for stress or even for the first signs of menopause. It is important for women who are 35 and older to check in with a healthcare professional about this, because what may seem like a missed period due to the early onset of menopause or stress, could actually be the beginning of a pregnancy. Doctors can help figure out what is wrong and determine the next course of action.
14 Early Menopause Or...?
Breast tenderness is also a common symptom of pregnancy for women both younger and older. According to the Mayo Clinic, changes in the size of a woman’s breasts may naturally occur during pregnancy, particularly near the beginning. A few short weeks after conception, the breasts may begin to feel and look fuller, and they may have a slight tingling sensation and soreness to them. These changes will occur as the body and milk ducts prepare for motherhood and breastfeeding.
For women over 35, this can also be seen as a symptom of something else. Breast pain or tenderness is a normal symptom of menopause that is caused by changes in hormones. This is known as cyclical mastalgia. Many of the symptoms that may be associated with premenopause or perimenopause are similar to the symptoms a woman may face during pregnancy, specifically at the beginning.
13 Fatigue Becomes Exaggerated
Fatigue, much like breast pain and the light bleeding mentioned above can be attributed to anything. Stress, hormonal changes, early signs of menopause and yes, pregnancy. During pregnancy, a woman’s progesterone levels will rise and this can cause her to feel extremely fatigued and tired a lot of the time. A drop in blood pressure or blood sugar can even make fatigue worse.
For women over 35, fatigue can be a lot worse for them than a younger woman who is pregnant. After 35, the body is starting to move away from the prime child bearing age range. Many of the symptoms that older women may experience can be intensified due to this fact and the fact that they are more prone to suffer from issues of high blood pressure or sugar, other chronic diseases and even dealing with stress. All of these things can take a huge toll on a pregnant woman’s body, and it can be even more harming if she is of a certain age.
12 Levels Rise Much Faster
Women who suffer from hypertension or have had issues in the past with high blood pressure might have more problems with it during pregnancy. This is especially true if they are over 35. Because the body is moving away from child bearing age, chronic illnesses and diseases are much more likely to have a negative impact on the baby than on the baby of a younger pregnant woman with a similar condition.
Again, this does not mean that women over 35 can’t have healthy babies or pregnancies, but it does mean that they should be aware of the risks and speak to their doctors about their concerns if they have any. High blood pressure can lead to other issues like placental abruption, premature delivery and it can increase your risk of developing cardiovascular disease in the future.There are certain blood pressure medications that could cause complications during pregnancy, but doctors may provide a mother suffering from high blood pressure with medication if needed.
11 #1 Becomes Less Controllable
Women are known to have little accidents here and there during pregnancy. The odds of having a bladder infection or leaking unknowingly increases as the baby grows and adds pressure to the mother’s bladder. The frequency of urination usually comes about during the sixth to eighth week of pregnancy and continues on from there.
According to Mayo Clinic, women over 40 are less likely to have control over their urge to urinate frequently, and thus could find themselves using the bathroom a lot more often than other pregnant women. This can also be really common for women who have had overactive bladders prior to pregnancy and it can get worse afterwards. Some women never fully gain control over their sphincter muscles after birth, and they become much more likely to have to use the bathroom more often. To help reduce the frequency of urination, some women can try to avoid beverages that produce a diuretic effect like coffee and tea.
10 Emotions Are The Boss
Mood swings can be a sign of pregnancy or a sign of menopause. It can also just be a general response to stress. Unless a woman over 35 or 40 has been actively trying to get pregnant, an unexpected pregnancy can cause her stress and frustration, making mood swings worse and possibly having a big impact on the baby.
Fluctuations of hormone levels are normal and to be expected for any pregnant woman, but older women tend to have more intense hormonal fluctuations compared to younger mothers. This means that the physical and mental implications of mood swings on pregnancy could be greater for women over 35. Sometimes, the mood swings can be triggered by hearing, viewing or experiencing something that could bring about emotion like a sad move, for example. Other times, mood swings can come about for no apparent reason. It is important that women note these changes in mood, so that it does not begin to affect their day-to-day.
9 Hormone Spikes Cause More Headaches
Headaches are another common part of pregnancy that can be attributed to the changing levels of hormones in a woman’s body. However, as with many symptoms on this list, headaches can be associated with pregnancy or even mistaken for a symptom of menopause for women around 40 years of age and older. Abrupt spikes in a pregnant woman’s hormones can cause these symptoms to occur at any point during the pregnancy, according to the American Pregnancy Association.
Headaches can usually be treated with certain medications like acetaminophen, but there are other ways that pregnant women can control mild headaches during pregnancy. A cold compress and ensuring that she is eating and sleeping regularly can help a woman avoid and treat any mild headaches that she may experience. Reducing stress and practicing meditation or relaxation techniques can also help with the fluctuating hormones that contribute to the headaches. If headaches tend to persist or become unbearable, she should seek medical attention immediately.
8 Body Stiffness
According to the American Pregnancy Association, backaches are typically among the first signs of pregnancy for all women. However, these backaches can also be associated with the onset of a woman’s period, stress or general back problems.
Women over the age of 40 may tend to experience more stiffness and soreness in their joints or other areas around the body more often than younger women. If a woman has had trouble with chronic back pains prior to getting pregnant, the issue could get worse during pregnancy especially as it progresses. The baby can start to add pressure to the pelvic region and make back and joint pain even worse. To combat the pain, women can do exercises to strengthen their core, avoid lying or sleeping on the back, wear a support belt and even consider going to see a chiropractor should symptoms persist. Keeping the feet elevated can also help relieve back pain and pressure.
7 Cramps In Weird Places
Leg cramps are pretty common during pregnancy and can actually become more frequent and painful as the pregnancy progresses due to the extra weight of the baby. As we age, our muscles and nerves tend to function less effectively. When the leg cramps up, the muscles tighten and it can cause a little twinge of pain or a full blown aching sensation. Older pregnant women may experience slightly more painful leg cramps during pregnancy than others.
Leg cramps can basically be a sign that your body is missing something. That could be certain nutrients, a lack of sodium or even dehydration. For pregnant women of any age to keep cramps to a minimum, they should strive to stay hydrated and keep a healthy diet. As the pregnancy progresses, it might even be a good idea to avoid standing or walking around for too long. If the cramp is accompanied by redness or swelling, a doctor should be consulted.
6 Hot Hot Hot!
Hot flashes can occur with menopause and in pregnancy. It is actually a pretty common symptom that many see as the mark of menopause. This is why it can be hard for an older woman to tell if what she is experiencing is due to pregnancy or something else, and it is all the more reason to visit a doctor to find out.
During pregnancy, women’s basal body temperature increases, which means they can reach temperatures as high as 103 degrees and still be considered at a normal temperature. Women can expect to experience hot flashes due to the fluctuating hormones. Fortunately, it is a lot less common for women to have hot flashes towards the beginning of pregnancy; they usually occur within the second or third trimester. So if a woman is experiencing them, chances are she knows it’s not a menopausal symptom. As hormones adjust, she may even continue to experience hot flashes after giving birth.
5 A Balanced Diet Is A Must
Research suggests that women over the age of 35 are at an increased risk of getting gestational diabetes. The older a woman gets, the higher her chances are. The likelihood of GD can also be increased based on family history, body weight, and some other factors. This means that women over the age of 35 have to be really careful with their diet and exercise habits during pregnancy. According to Pregnancy Info, women over 40 have a 12 percent chance of developing gestational diabetes, while women under 40 have about a 3 percent chance.
Many women won’t get a diagnosis for gestational diabetes until well into the later part of their pregnancy, particularly the sixth or seventh month. This is generally around the time that women start to gain insulin resistance. Doctors may have mothers take insulin or treat their gestational diabetes through proper diet and exercise. If left untreated, GD could have serious implications for the mother and her baby.
4 Recovery Takes More Time
According to Daily Mail UK, a recent study has found that women over 40 are three times more likely to need a C-section during pregnancy, have certain complications or need some sort of intervention during pregnancy. The study mostly takes into account women of certain socioeconomic and health status, and notes that further research should be done. However, the older a woman gets the more complicated pregnancy can become. All of these factors along with age could possibly increase a woman’s chances of needing a longer recovery after giving birth.
Women who have C-sections generally need more time to heal than women who deliver vaginally. But, that recovery time can increase based on a woman’s age and any complications she may have faced during delivery. While there is certainly a risk of complications or longer recovery, it does not mean that women over 40 aren’t capable of having completely normal childbirth experiences. Recovery is hard regardless of age, but it might just take longer for some women than others.
3 Nausea Can Be More Intense
According to Expecting Science, about 70 to 80 percent of women experience some form of nausea during pregnancy. It is one of the most annoying pregnancy symptoms there is, but there is an upside to this. Nausea usually indicates a healthy pregnancy. While there are some women who do not experience morning sickness at all and still have healthy babies, generally most women who have healthy babies will experience morning sickness.
However, there is a big difference between nausea and some light vomiting and having severe nausea. Because women over 35 are more prone to complications during pregnancy, if they are experiencing symptoms of severe nausea, it probably warrants a trip to the doctor. It might not be anything major outside of severe morning sickness, but if nausea and vomiting are accompanied with other symptoms, it could mean something has gone wrong with the pregnancy. The best way to determine the cause is to see a doctor as soon as possible.
2 Time-Of-The-Month-Like Cramps
Pregnant women may be prone to experience abdominal pain or cramps as their belly grows. This is ultimately due to the stretching of the ab muscles during pregnancy. But there are many other reasons why a pregnant woman might experience pain in her abdominal area. Everything from constipation, false contractions, bladder infections, and even gallstones can cause pain in the abdomen.
For women over 35, there is an increased risk of getting gallstones. This can be extremely difficult to deal with during pregnancy because of the pain. Usually, the pain from gallstones can start in the upper right abdomen area and radiate towards the back and even the right shoulder. If a woman starts to feel like something isn’t right, experiencing severe abdominal pain or discomfort, she should call her ob-gyn immediately to determine what she should do next. In severe cases, a visit to the hospital might be the best plan.
1 No Longer In Full Control Of Weight Gain
During pregnancy, it is important for a woman to maintain a proper exercise and diet plan that will ensure the health of herself and her baby. Regardless of age, healthy living is essential to a successful pregnancy. Women will gain weight over the course of several months as their body grows to support the baby, but there is still a healthy weight range for them to be in. Bad diet habits could contribute to weight gain. But a poor diet is not always strictly to blame for rapid weight gain during pregnancy.
Hormones, stress and even certain biological factors could increase a woman’s chances of gaining weight too fast during pregnancy, but this can be especially true for older women who are battling these things. An older woman can be more prone to weight gain, which can lead to other issues and fatigue. This can usually be remedied with good diet and exercise, but relaxation techniques and prenatal vitamins could help reduce weight gain some too.
Sources: ACOG.org, ModernMom.com, WebMD.com, HealthLine.com, WhatToExpect.com, ActiveBeat.com