Curejoy Expert Claude Butler Explains:
Older women can and do have a healthy pregnancy after 30. However, older mums are at an increased risk of developing ongoing health conditions, such as diabetes and high blood pressure. These conditions can affect your health, and how well your pregnancy and birth goes.
Miscarriage and ectopic pregnancy are the more common complications in older women, as are pregnancy complications such as gestational diabetes, placenta praevia, pre-eclampsia and premature birth. As likely as these problems are in older women, this doesn’t mean that they will happen.
Complications That Have A Higher Chance Of Occurring In Older Women
1. Genetic Abnormality: If you’re an older women, you have a higher chance of having a baby with a genetic abnormality. These include Down’s syndrome or the rarer chromosomal conditions like Edwards’ syndrome or Patau’s syndrome.
The risk of Down’s syndrome, according to age, is:
Age 20: one in 1,500
Age 30: one in 900
Age 40: one in 100
2. Stillborn: There is a small risk of having a baby who is stillborn if you are over 40. The risk is highest at around 41 weeks of pregnancy. However, the rate is still low, at less than 10 stillbirths per 1,000 births.
3. Having Twins: Although fertility levels fall, the odds of having twins increases. While the use of fertility treatment increases the occurrence of multiples, older women can also naturally have twins without medical intervention.
4. Gestational Diabetes: This type of diabetes, which occurs only during pregnancy, is more common as women get older. Tight control of blood sugar through diet and physical activity is essential. Sometimes medication is necessary, too. Left untreated, gestational diabetes can cause a baby to grow significantly larger than average — which increases the risk of injuries during delivery
5. Premature Babies: Older mothers are more likely to have babies that are born premature and that are in a breech position.
6. Fetal Distress: Some research has found that fetal distress is more common in older mums, particularly first-time mums over 40. This may be another reason why caesarean rates are higher in this age group.
7. High Blood Pressure: Research suggests that high blood pressure that develops during pregnancy is more common in older women. Your health care provider will carefully monitor your blood pressure and your baby’s growth and development. You might need to take medication or deliver your baby before your due date to avoid complications.
8. Spontaneous Miscarriage: There are possibilities of having problems in sustaining the pregnancy. This is because the hormonal variations in a woman’s body can cause spontaneous miscarriage. Studies have found that about 9 percent of recognized pregnancies for women aged 20 to 24 ended in miscarriage. The risk rises to about 20 percent at age 35 to 39, and more than 50 percent by age 42.
9. Longer Labour: There’s some evidence that older mums are more likely to have a longer labour. This could be because the muscles of the uterus (womb) may not work as efficiently as women get older.
10. Bleeding: Older mothers are more likely to have bleeding before pregnancy. This is mostly due to the way the placenta implants lower in the uterus.