Having children is a life-changing decision that for many Americans is coming later in life than a few generations ago. According to the Centers for Disease Control and the National Center for Health Statistics, 15 years ago the mean age of a woman when she first gave birth was 24.9 years old. In 2014, that age had risen to 26.3.
A Magic Age to Worry?
There’s nothing magic about the age of 35. The age has been a social bellwether for women to begin worrying about the tick-tick-tick of their biological clock. While years ago maternal age added to the risk of having a baby with a genetic condition, the invasive genetic-testing procedures that found them also added to the risk. Today the miscarriage risks are lower, and doctors now understand that a mother’s health history and age matter.
Is Conception More Difficult?
Generally, the older you are the longer conception can take. It’s not an absolute. As you age, the eggs you don’t ovulate degrade. That means a 20 percent chance of getting pregnant when you’re a healthy, fertile 30-year-old does decline as you age. By the time you turn 40, your chances drop to about 40 percent.
Are the Risks Greater?
Premature birth, low birth weight, miscarriage and other issues are more common in older women than in younger women. The problems can be driven by other health issues such as diabetes or high blood pressure. Your individual circumstances matter a lot. Someone in her 30’s, who is morbidly obese with high blood pressure and diabetes is at greater risk than a mom who is 38 and healthy.
If you’re planning a later pregnancy, work to achieve the best health you can. Eating healthy, quitting smoking, losing weight and avoiding alcohol can increase your chances of conceiving even if you’re 35 or older.
If you’re planning for a pregnancy and looking for an OB-GYN, consider Beaufort Memorial Obstetrics & Gynecology Specialists.