Many women choose to postpone pregnancy until their 30s for both personal and professional reasons. And although fertility starts to decline in your 30s and 40s, many women experience healthy pregnancies and deliver healthy babies beyond their 20s.
That being said, prenatal care is even more important after 35 as your risks of pregnancy complications, such as gestational diabetes, increases with age. Routine care can help you reduce your risk of complications and manage any that do arise.
If you’re embarking on your journey to motherhood and you’re over the age of 35, trust the board-certified obstetricians and gynecologists at OBGYN Westside PLLC, on the Upper West Side of New York City. Our team offers prenatal care to expectant mothers of all ages.
Here are nine tips for a healthy pregnancy after age 35.
1. Receive regular prenatal care
If you’re planning on becoming pregnant, first schedule a fertility counseling session. Preconception counseling can help you ensure you’re starting pregnancy in the best possible state of health.
Once you’re pregnant, schedule regular prenatal care appointments. Our team monitors you and your baby throughout your entire pregnancy. We also provide guidance on safe exercise for each trimester, nutritional advice, and when and what prenatal testing you need.
At each appointment, we check your blood pressure and monitor for any red flags, such as protein in your urine. Routine prenatal care ensures that your pregnancy progresses on track, and if any issues arise, we can address them quickly.
2. Take your prenatal vitamin
In addition to your regular prenatal care, the second most important tip is to take your prenatal vitamin, starting 2-3 months before conceiving. Mothers over the age of 35 have a higher risk of giving birth to babies with birth defects, and a prenatal vitamin is your best defense.
Folic acid, in particular, reduces your risk of neural tube birth defects, a category of birth defects that includes spina bifida. Our team recommends that your prenatal vitamin contains at least 600 micrograms.
3. Manage any underlying chronic conditions
Moms over the age of 35 are more likely to develop gestational diabetes and preeclampsia. You can reduce your risk of developing these conditions by managing any underlying conditions you already have.
For example, if you have pre-diabetes, lowering your blood sugar and monitoring what you eat can help you avoid gestational diabetes. Likewise, if you have elevated blood pressure, work to safely lower your blood pressure and reduce your risk of developing preeclampsia. Mild to moderate exercise is recommended throughout pregnancy and can help reduce your risk for both of these things.
4. Prioritize healthy eating
When you’re eating for two, this does not mean your caloric intake should double. Eat enough to feel satisfied and include a variety of nutritious foods in your daily diet, especially foods rich in folic acid, calcium, iron, and protein. Spinach, beans, lentils, and sunflower seeds are all good folic acid sources. Spinach also contains iron and calcium, making this a great addition to your diet.
5. Exercise regularly
Exercise during pregnancy can:
- Reduce your risk of gestational diabetes
- Help you sleep better at night
- Prevent excess weight gain
- Support healthy blood pressure and blood sugar levels
- Boost your mood and reduce anxiety
- Reduce bloating
- Reduce backaches
Depending on your pre-pregnancy exercise habits, many types of exercise are safe in pregnancy and we are happy to discuss this with you. Walking, swimming and prenatal yoga are good options.
6. Get enough sleep
Not getting enough sleep could increase your risk for pregnancy complications like preeclampsia and gestational diabetes 一 both of which are already problematic for mothers over the age of 35.
Aim for 7-9 hours of sleep each night, but if you feel inclined to take a nap, listen to your body!
7. Schedule recommended prenatal testing
Prenatal testing is important no matter what age you are during your pregnancy, but genetic testing is more important if you’re over the age of 35. Mothers over the age of 35 have a higher risk of delivering babies with certain chromosome problems, such as Down syndrome.
8. Avoiding smoking, alcohol, and caffeine
Smoking, alcohol, and excess caffeine can all negatively impact your pregnancy. If you’re currently smoking and struggling to quit, talk to your OBGYN Westside provider for guidance on smoking cessation.
9. Gain weight wisely
While gaining weight is part of your pregnancy journey, it’s important to gain the recommended amount of weight. Gaining too much can increase your risk of problems during pregnancy, labor, and delivery, but this risk is even higher for women over the age of 35.
According to a 2019 study, women of advanced maternal age (AMA) who were overweight were more at risk of developing gestational diabetes, hypertension, and fetal macrosomia.
These tips are just the beginning. When you visit our office, our team provides tailored guidance and obstetric care to help you enjoy a healthy and happy pregnancy.
To schedule your fertility counseling appointment or your next prenatal appointment, call our office or book online today.