Reducing or Managing Risks for Pregnancy Over Age 35
Knowing that your risks are higher when pregnant over the age of 35, you’ll want to do everything in your control to have a healthy pregnancy and encourage the healthy growth of your baby.
Here are some ways to do that:
- Make a preconception appointment. It’s always a good idea to schedule a preconception appointment with your healthcare provider before trying to conceive, particularly when you’re over 35. Your doctor can show you how to chart your menstrual cycle in order to help you know when you’re ovulating. He or she will talk with you about changes you may need to make in your diet or lifestyle and discuss medications you’re currently taking that may need to be changed to help prevent birth defects.
- Get regular prenatal care. Make an appointment with your doctor as soon as you find out that you’re pregnant, and be sure to go to all your prenatal checkups. Find out if there are any tests or vaccinations, such as a flu shot, that you may need.
- Gain the right amount of weight. Your healthcare provider can help advise you on how much weight you should gain based on your pre-pregnancy weight. Make sure to eat healthy foods and exercise regularly, assuming physical training has been cleared by your doctor.
- Take a prenatal vitamin. Take a daily prenatal vitamin every day that has at least 400 micrograms of folic acid and vitamin B. If possible, start taking them even before you conceive, as it can help prevent major birth defects in the developing brain and spine.
- Get regular dental checkups. Don’t forget to take care of your teeth and gums when you’re pregnant, and make sure to see your dentist regularly. The hormonal changes in your body can increase the risk of gum disease which can, in turn, affect your developing baby.
- Eat a healthy diet. When you’re pregnant, your body needs more folic acid, iron, vitamin D, choline and Omega-3s. Look for foods rich in essential nutrients such as whole grains, berries, salmon, beans and well-cooked eggs.
- Take a prenatal yoga class. Prenatal yoga can benefit any pregnant woman – research has shown it can help improve sleep, increase muscle endurance needed for childbirth and decrease lower back pain. One particular benefit for women over 35, especially, is that prenatal yoga can help reduce anxiety, which may be higher in women with a high-risk pregnancy. It’s important to manage this anxiety as maternal stress levels have been shown to affect your baby. One study even links anxiety during pregnancy to children’s developing ADHD later in life.
Even though there are additional risks associated with being pregnant over the age of 35, don’t let these scare you. Plenty of older women have perfectly healthy pregnancies and newborns. But it is important to be educated on the risks and informed about your pregnancy so you can be pro-active in taking the best care of yourself.