If you are in your thirties and having your first baby, you are one of thousands of women each year who have planned motherhood at a later age. Reasons for delaying childbirth vary from woman to woman. Education, economics, career advancement, and other reasons have been weighed against concerns regarding fertility and problems in pregnancy.
As with other things, having children later in life means accepting trade-offs. Age does affect fertility and may slightly increase the chances of the pregnant woman developing certain medical problems; but good health ad good prenatal care can reduce most of these risks.
A major concern forwomen over thirty is their ability to become pregnant. Biologically, a woman’s peak reproductive years are her twenties, with a decline in fertility as she grows older. Some fertility problems are naturally a result of the aging process; others are linked to pelvic infections and other diseases.
However, the decline in fertility is not as drastic as some have suggested. Couples who waited to have a child and now experience infertility problems have access to tests and procedures that may offer some solutions.
Of major concern to older mothers, whether it is their first child or not, is that the risks of some birth defects increase with age. For instance, the incidence of Down’s syndrome rises from about one baby in one thousand at age twentynine to about one baby in one hundred at age forty. Because of this increased possibility of birth defects, it is recommended that women around age thirty-five or older have a test, called amniocentesis, that may determine some—but will not discover all – genetic problems during pregnancy. This procedure is carried out around the sixteenth week of pregnancy and involves a slight risk of cramping, bleeding, or miscarriage.
Older mothers appear to have a slightly higher chance of experiencing certain medical problems such as high blood pressure, diabetes, premature labor, and miscarriage. The increased risks of these problems are small, but the older pregnant woman generally has her pregnancy monitored more closely.
It is important to remember that many of these risks can be reduced if a woman is in good health before and during pregnancy and gets good prenatal care. The choices we make will always have an effect on the future of our own lives and our offspring; so we have to be ready for any consequence in whatever form. So, if you decide to delay having children, pay attention to your health and discuss plans with your doctor; then enjoy your long-awaited pregnancy and baby.