The term 'geriatric pregnancy' is a label created by the medical community which refers to a pregnant woman over the age of thirty-five. The term itself is becoming more outdated and used less commonly, to the relief of women who are (understandably) not fans of being referred to as geriatric. Today, more and more women are choosing to delay starting a family until their mid-thirties and beyond.
And while the chances of having a successful pregnancy over the age of thirty-five are very good, there are some things you should be aware of in order to have the healthiest pregnancy possible.
10 KNOW THE RISKS
If you're over the age of thirty-five and are considering getting pregnant, it's important to know the risks associated with geriatric pregnancy. While there's a great chance that your pregnancy will go smoothly, having a baby at this age does pose more risk. According to Healthline, these include: premature birth, low-birth weight in the baby, stillbirth, chromosomal defects, labour complications, caesarian section, high blood pressure leading to preeclampsia, and gestational diabetes.
9 PREP YOUR BODY
Even before trying to get pregnant, give yourself the best chance possible by prepping your body so that you're in peak physical form. There are many ways to do this, and these include: losing weight if you're overweight, exercising, eating a healthy balanced diet, quitting smoking, avoiding alcohol and drugs, and taking a prenatal vitamin.
If you have any existing health issues, discuss with your doctor how to best manage them while pregnant.
8 PRENATAL CARE IS VITAL
Starting from the very beginning of your pregnancy, it's important to get regular prenatal care. And don't delay - the first two months of pregnancy are crucial to a baby's development.
By having regular prenatal appointments, your healthcare provider will catch any potential issues and your chances of having a healthy pregnancy will increase. So book those check-ups and stick to them!
7 DON'T SKIP THE VITAMINS
Any pregnant woman should be taking prenatal vitamins containing at least 400 micrograms of folic acid, but it's even more important for women over thirty-five. Folic acid helps prevent birth defects involving the brain and spinal cord.
And since older women have a higher risk for these defects, it's crucial to get the recommended amounts of folic acid. Some prenatal vitamins have higher amounts which are safe too, so it can be difficult to decide which one is right for you. Discuss with your doctor to make sure.
6 KNOW HOW MUCH WEIGHT TO GAIN IS SAFE
During pregnancy, some weight gain is expected, and totally normal. But don't use your pregnancy as a hall pass to overindulge at every meal. Discuss with your doctor how much weight is safe for you to gain: this will depend on your BMI. Someone in the normal range should gain between 25-35 pounds.
For overweight and obese women, it is safer to gain less weight. Gaining the right amount of weight will decrease the risk of delivering prematurely, as well as developing gestational diabetes and preeclampsia.
5 GET YOUR DIET IN CHECK
What food you're putting in your body is important during any pregnancy, but if you're over 35 it's important to make nutritious food the mainstay of your diet.
Eating a wide variety of foods will help ensure your baby, and you, are getting all of the nutrients needed. Focus on eating plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables, lean meats, and dairy that will provide the calcium needed for your growing baby, and to keep your own bones strong. It's also a good idea to eat foods rich in folic acid such as dark leafy greens.
4 MOVE THAT BUMP
You don't want to skimp on exercise during your pregnancy. You can discuss with your doctor what kinds of exercise are appropriate for you, but in most cases, you can keep doing your regular exercise routine pre-pregnancy.
Regular exercise will help keep you from gaining too much weight. It will also help to relieve stress and keep you strong throughout your pregnancy. Even something as simple as a daily walk will be beneficial. So get moving!
3 SMOKING AND DRINKING ARE A NO-GO
During any pregnancy, smoking and alcohol use should be avoided. Drinking alcohol increases the chances of your baby developing mental and physical defects. And smoking increases the chances of delivering a low birth weight baby, as well as preeclampsia.
For pregnant women over 35, there are already more risks anyway, so it's in your (and your baby's) best interest to stay away from these behaviors.
2 YOU MAY NEED TO DECIDE ON PRENATAL TESTS
As a pregnant woman over 35, you may need to decide on whether you want to get certain prenatal tests done to determine the risk or existence of birth defects.
It's important to discuss with your doctor and weigh the advantages and disadvantages of these tests, in order to gauge whether they're right for you.
1 THERE ARE BENEFITS, TOO
While there are increased risks in having a baby at an older age, there are also many benefits. Due to career demands, cost of living, and other factors, it's becoming increasingly common for women to wait to start a family, and it's easy to understand why.
Waiting until you're older means you'll likely have a higher income and a more stable employment and living situation. You'll likely be more mature and know what you want out of life at this stage. So if you're over 35 and considering becoming pregnant, there are some possible risks and complications to keep in mind. But if you follow a healthy diet, keep active, and follow the advice of your healthcare provider, your chances of having a healthy, successful pregnancy are high.