Pregnancy After 40: Understanding the Risks

Photo courtesy of Jelle Druyts via Flickr

Photo courtesy of Jelle Druyts via Flickr

In most cases, pregnancy is great cause for excitement and a celebration as the arrival of a new life is anticipated. However, if you are age forty or older and have received the news that you are pregnant, you need to understand that there are also risks that lie ahead. These risks do not only include you, but extend to your baby as well. Awareness is key in helping you to prepare for any issues that may arise. You want to do the best you can to ensure you and your baby will be healthy.

1. You are at a greater risk of miscarriage
Up to twenty percent of all pregnancies will result in a miscarriage. While the reasons why miscarriages occur are often unknown, research has indicated risk factors. The age of the mother is a major consideration. The older you get, the more likely you are to miscarry. If you are forty and above, your chances of losing your baby double. Any underlying health conditions, obesity, stress, trauma, and genetic problems could have an impact on your ability to carry your baby full term.

2. You could suffer complications during pregnancy
Studies have shown that older mothers are more likely to suffer from various complications during pregnancy. For example, Preeclampsia is a serious concern that causes a severe spike in blood pressure, as well as increased levels of protein in your urine. If you suffer from this condition, it could cause a stroke. Gestational diabetes, a diabetes that develops during pregnancy and goes away after the baby is delivered, is a greater concern for the middle-aged mother. You may also be at a greater risk of developing cancer in your reproductive organs, especially if you have taken fertility drugs. Pregnancy causes a great strain on the body and the heart for a woman at any age. If you are older, you may develop high blood pressure or a heart condition.

3. Your baby could be at risk
Pregnancy later in life has an impact on more than the mother. Your baby faces more risks as well while developing in the womb. Your chances of having a problem with the proper development of your placenta are greater. This can result in a premature birth which poses many potential problems for your baby. Your baby may be at a greater risk of having chromosomal abnormalities as well.

4. You should consult a high risk obstetrician or perinatologist
If you are expecting and you have reached the age of forty or beyond, it’s recommended to consult your pregnancy early on with a high risk obstetrician or perinatologist, even if you are in good health and do not have a history of any problems. Be sure to include all information about any underlying health conditions, medications, and family history of any genetic problems when you make your first consultation.

In your forties, you have the prospect of risks to face during a pregnancy. However, you can carry a healthy baby full term and take care of yourself in the process. Improve your chances by keeping regular appointments with your high risk obstetrician and protect yourself during your pregnancy. Make adjustments in your lifestyle. Eat a healthy, balanced diet, stay active, and get plenty of rest. Manage any health conditions that you may have. Steer clear of anything that could put you and your baby at risk as you keep your delivery date in sight.

Pregnancy, healthy Pregnancy

Photo courtesy of Thomas Pompernigg via Flickr

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Author:Lizzie Weakley

Lizzie Weakley is a freelance writer from Columbus, Ohio. She is a graduate of communications at The Ohio State University. She has a passion for writing and enjoys the outdoors and long walks in the park with her husky Snowball.

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