There are several advantages to being older when you have your first baby or add to your family. You are more mature and probably have more patience. Your financial situation may be better than when you were younger.
On the other hand, problems you have with chronic illnesses, such as high blood pressure or diabetes, can worsen and affect both you and your baby. There are also increased risks for the baby.
Many of my patients who are over 35 ask me about the possible problems they might have during pregnancy. Risks are varied and include:
|a slightly increased risk of a baby with Down syndrome|
|a higher risk of Cesarean section|
|problems with diabetes or high blood pressure|
|a harder, longer labor|
If you have other chronic medical problems, such as thyroid disease, or take medications regularly, discuss your concerns with your doctor before getting pregnant.
Researchers believe that the father's age can also affect the pregnancy and the baby. It has been shown that chromosomal abnormalities occur more often in babies born to women over 35 and men over 40. Men over age 55 are twice as likely as younger men to father a child with Down syndrome.
I don't mean to imply you shouldn't get pregnant when you're older, but a pregnancy may be a little more difficult for you. This is an individual situation that you and your partner should discuss with your doctor.
The older you are when you become pregnant, the more sense it may make to have additional tests during your pregnancy. Tests to consider include ultrasound, amniocentesis, cnorionic villus sampling, alpha-fetoprotein and diabetes testing. If you haven't had a mammogram, have one prior to becoming pregnant if you are over 35.