Since the late 1970 we have been observing a rapid growth in late pregnancy cases. Women are giving birth at the age of forty and even forty. For a quarter century the number of pregnant women among women 35-39 years increased by 90%. And the number of young mothers who are 40 and more years old increased up to 87%.
Fifteen years ago 25-year-old girls were called “old mothers”, but today the term is used to refer to women giving birth being at the age of 35 and even in the older age. There has been a significant shift in women’s age frame who can get pregnant and give birth.
Let’s start with the fact that a modern life standard supposes regular sexual activity of women who are not only after the “30”, but also “40” and “50”. This, of course, saves the possibility of pregnancy.
There is a great number of unwanted pregnancies in adulthood. This is evidenced by at least the fact that, according to Canadian Family Pharmacy statistics, more than 70% of pregnancies in late reproductive age (after age 35) are interrupted by induced abortions.
After all, the majority of women at the age of 35-40 have already decided the family planning, and their pregnancy is the result of disregard for birth control pills for pregnancy prevention or ineffectiveness of previous methods of contraception. So, for example, there are cases when a physiological method of contraception based on calculation of favorable days for conception, “fails” in connection with the violation of the natural cycle as a result of age-related changes in a woman’s body.
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Many women believe that their fertility falls with the age, and they cease to pay due attention to contraception. However, the decline of fertility is not equal to infertility and the risk of accidental pregnancy of middle-aged women who neglects contraception is often higher than of a young woman who uses contraception.
Although only one in ten pregnancies of women older than 40 years is preserved, let us not forget that 20 years ago the number of such births was less, so that there is an encouraging trend – more and more women who became pregnant accidentally in middle age, decides to give birth – thus not only saving the life of the future child, but also to some extent restoring their youth. Besides, nowadays it’s easy to recover after pregnancy, even in a mature age.
Often women put off having children “for later” – first of all they want to achieve career success, solve the housing problem and just before marriage, because recent years have witnessed the increased marriage age. And it’s not a whim, it is an objective trend. Probably, this is the main reason of young parents going “so old”.
However, there is a sufficiently large number of women, for which later pregnancy is not the first one. The growing divorce rate in modern society leads to the fact that a lot of women aged 30-40 years remarries and wants to have a child in a new marriage.
But even strong couples aged 35-40 years old quite often obtain the opportunity “to have a second child” – they have a strong position on the job, a steady income, a nice apartment. And – what is remarkable – not just the desire to have a second child, but to have children of different sex. The researches show that the expectations associated with the appearance of a child of a particular sex is much stronger not for the parents who are waiting for the firstborn, but for those who want just a brother to their eldest daughter or a sister to their son. This explains the fact that the third pregnancy is likely to end positively, if the two older children are of the same sex.
But pregnant women who are older than 35 years old often face the fact that conception of their age represents a significant challenge (in this case it does not matter if a woman wants to give birth to the first child, the second or the third one):
- A woman’s ability to conceive begins to decline somewhere after 30, so it is not surprising that the older the woman is, the more time it takes to get pregnant;
- over the years a woman number of ovulations is reducing – a number of menstrual cycles passing without the formation of the egg is increasing, and a conception in such a cycle is, of course, impossible;
- many women develop diseases with the age, such as endometriosis (uterine lining disease associated with hormonal imbalance and preventing the implantation of the embryo), obstruction of pipes, etc;
- women often develop various extragenital diseases (not directly related to the sexual sphere) that prevent pregnancy. So, the chances of a 30-year-old woman to become pregnant within one month cycle are 20%, the chances of a 40-year-old woman are only 5%.
However, the fact that conception takes longer is not tantamount to infertility. And we should not waste time if pregnancy does not occur after a year of sexual activity without contraception, we should ask the doctor to identify the causes that prevent conception. Most women over 35 is able to conceive, carry and give birth to a healthy baby, and modern medicine has the power to help them do that.
Touching on the theme of pregnancy in the middle age, we can not say about women, for whom the possibility of pregnancy with the help of medicine is the only chance to experience the joy of motherhood. Among women addressing to the clinics, in vitro fertilization is the last hope of women with a diagnosis of “primary infertility” – there are a lot of women after 30 and even over 40. Today doctors advise start the treatment of infertility as soon as possible and seek the help of assisted reproductive technologies, because the younger the patient is, the greater the chance of success is.
But this is today, when the world has more than a million people who were born by means of IVF. A forty-year woman with primary infertility 20 years ago was unable to refer to this procedure (the first child from a “test-tube” was born only in 1978), 10 years ago did not have the money for such manipulations and only now can try to get pregnant. Of course, the development of assisted reproductive technologies, particularly in vitro fertilization, is one of the factors increasing in the number of late pregnancies, and “the aged” young mothers.
Let us leave aside the question of the pregnancy history and just talk about the medical features of pregnancy in middle age, about how to behave, what to fear and what to prepare in this position.
The purpose of this article is not to frighten the woman who decides to take such an important step, but to warn her of the difficulties she will have to face, and find ways to overcome them.
We distinguish two late pregnancy problems:
- Dangers for an adult mother;
- risks for a late child.
Of course, we must remember that this division is largely arbitrary, because the pregnant woman and the fetus are a single body, and almost all the problems of the future mother affect the child in one way or another.
The Risks for Women’s Health: Canadian Family Pharmacy Review
- Miscarriage. If women under the age of 30 have 10% risk of miscarriage, among women of 30-39, it is already 17%, and among women of 40-44 it is 33%. The increasing risk of miscarriage during the pregnancy is connected not only with the age-related changes of the female body, but also with the aging of eggs themselves;
- placental problems (chronic placental insufficiency, previa, premature detachment of the placenta);
- exacerbation of chronic diseases. Pregnancy may cause aggravation of practically any chronic disease and the risk of these diseases increases with the age;
- hypertension is a fairly common complication of pregnancy. If the woman suffered from the disease before pregnancy, her condition may worsen. She gets the risk of preeclampsia or eclampsia (a condition characterized by high blood pressure, swelling and the presence of protein in the urine). The most severe manifestation of preeclampsia is eclampsia (convulsions), which can seriously upset the nervous system up to stroke and coma with severe brain damage;
- women with diabetes during pregnancy have the increased risk of preeclampsia, preterm delivery, placental complications, specifically affecting the fetus – diabetic fetopathy, stillbirth;
- multiple pregnancy (age 35-39 is the peak of twin birth). A woman may have complications during the pregnancy (weakness, a greater risk of ruptures of soft birth canal due to reduced elasticity of tissues, bleeding caused by placental problems, etc.);
- cesarean section. The woman after 35 have 40% chance of caesarean section, a woman after 40 – 47% (while only 14% of women younger than 30 years old give birth via caesarean section).
The Risk for a Child
- Premature birth;
- light weight;
- the risk of hypoxia during labor;
- the risk of chromosomal abnormalities in the fetus.
However, even a 50-years-old woman has a great chance (greater than 90%) to give birth to a healthy baby, and generally 97% of women who were passed through detailed examination, receive confirmation that the probability of a full-fledged child is the same as for younger women.
In addition, the modern development of prenatal diagnosis gives the family an opportunity to examine the fetus and identify (and more often – to exclude) possible deviations a sufficiently early stage of pregnancy. A complete survey of this kind is also desirable to the young woman.
So, what is the result of numerous Canadian Family Pharmacy studies? Paradoxically, they are optimistic: they say that the vast majority of women, who are going to have later pregnancy, is giving birth to healthy babies!
You have to relive or discover for the first time the joy of motherhood. You already possess the wisdom, which people do not have in 20, you already know: nothing goes for nothing, without works, sacrifice and effort; you have enough strength and patience to overcome all difficulties. That love, the feelings that are born with this child, will change your life. The happiness of maternal love and pride for your child, the second youth – all you have to survive in the coming years, but now, these 9 months, you will require attention, concentration, restlessness, iron will and self-discipline, and sometimes a willingness to self-sacrifice.
The article is released by Canadian Family Pharmacy professional team.