In the following clip Professor Philip Steer, Consultant Obstetrician, at the Chelsea and Westminster hospital talks realistically and positively about pregnancy over 35, 40 and 50. He has monitored the pregnancies of women in their late 40’s and 50’s. He stresses that its not the physical age that’s the problem but aging eggs. Women in their 50’s are a lot healthier and fitter and will usually experience a straightforward pregnancy after successful conception with the donor egg of a younger woman.
Overall older women can expect to experience straightforward pregnancies. Professor Steer says that older mothers tend to be highly motivated, have lots of life experience and are educated which compensates for the exhaustion experienced when the baby arrives.
Professor Steer advises the main risks during pregnancy are;
1. Downs Syndrome
The average statistics for the population are 1 in 700 babies will have this chromosomal disorder. At 35 this increases to 1 in 350. At 40 the probability increases to 1 in 100 and over the age of 45 its 1 in 10.
2. High blood pressure
3. Diabetes – Insulin production declines and sugar levels increase as we age.
Women who have been known to have high blood pressure and diabetes before pregnancy are at greater risk but will be constantly monitored throughout preagnancy.
4.Pre term birth
5.Multiple birth – Older mothers have a higher rate of twins.
As a woman ages it becomes more difficult to give birth naturally due to the pelvic floor muscles stiffening up. The rate of c-sections for older mothers is 40 – 50% although this might also be a result of augmenting the process of labour due to a woman’s age. Older mums also tend to birth larger babies especially if they have had diabetes during the pregnancy.
Professor Steer advises if that if you are 35 years old and over to consider the following;
1. There is no perfect time to have a baby so you need to think about getting on with it if you want to increase your chances of conceiving naturally. This is all well and good if you have a partner!
2. Have a health check before you start the journey of conceiving a baby. Have your blood pressure checked and if you have had or have diabetes, have your blood sugar levels monitored.
3. Find an obstetrician who is experienced in pregnancy in older women.
4. Consider the optional screening tests for chromosomal disorders and diagnostic tests like amniocentesis although the latter does come with risk of miscarriage. If you are aged 43 or 44 and over you might want to consider going straight to a diagnostic test.