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Does age really matter in pregnancy?

According to latest statistics from the Office National Statistics (ONS), the average age group of the UK mother has now risen to 30-34, and nearly one in five births are to women over the age of 35.

Whilst most have perfectly healthy pregnancies (and babies!) there is some evidence to suggest that being an older mum can affect you, your pregnancy and the birth. Finding out how can help you to be more aware and more prepared.

The perfect age for conception
The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG) states that biologically, the optimum childbearing age is between 20 and 35.

Why does age matter?
When we’re born, we all have the exact amount of eggs in our ovaries to release over our life. The eggs will begin to age from our very first day of life and will naturally start to be released during our first menstrual cycle. As we get older, the eggs age along with us and often lose their prime ability to fertilise and implant.

For the record it’s not just us who is affected, as men age, there is also a natural decrease in sperm counts, thought it generally remains within the normal range!

How does age affect pregnancy?
Most older mums will enjoy a healthy pregnancy and birth, but over 35, there are increased risks of ongoing health conditions for you personally, and some may only be discovered when you’re pregnant.

Here’s a few of the main concerns:

  • The older you are, the more likely you are to have conditions such as diabetes or high blood pressure, which can both affect how well your pregnancy and birth goes, as well as your health.
  • In pregnancy terms, sadly, both miscarriage and ectopic pregnancy are also more common in older women. It does increase steadily, to the age of 45, when there is about a one in two risk of miscarrying (based on natural conception as opposed to receiving fertility treatment.)
  • In pregnancy terms, sadly, both miscarriage and ectopic pregnancy are also more common in older women. It does increase steadily, to the age of 45, when there is about a one in two risk of miscarrying (based on natural conception as opposed to receiving fertility treatment.)
  • The older female is more adept to conceive a child having chromosome problem such as Downs Syndrome than a younger woman.
  • As the hormone levels alter with age, ovulation can become sporadic. Ovulation is that time of the month when the female ovaries release the egg which is ready for fertilisation. If ovulation becomes sporadic, the female might have trouble conceiving.
  • Keep calm and carry on!
    The best advice is not to panic. Many of us delay motherhood to prioritise education, finances and careers and as we said at the beginning, for the majority, we will be absolutely fine.

    In fact, the British Pregnancy Advisory Services states that, ‘women are often warned about leaving it too late to start trying for a baby, but this really needs to be kept in perspective.

    ‘Pregnancy and childbirth for older women can present particular challenges, but rather than pressuring women into having children earlier than they feel is right for them, we need to ensure maternity services are in place to deliver the care they need.' 

    So what it really comes down to is the health and well-being of the mum-to-be and when the time is right for your special life-changing experience.

    If you do have any concerns, it’s best to speak to your doctor or your healthcare professional who will be able to go through all the considerations and concerns you may have about having a baby, whatever your age!

    
We’d love to hear what age you were when you had your last child and how you felt.

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    Whilst we welcome feedback on this blog, we will not tolerate any abuse or misuse. Please respect the views and feelings of others. The content and advice offered is based on general recommendations and health-care professional suggestions and is designed to be used as a guide and discussion piece. It is not a substitute for examination, diagnosis or treatment by a qualified health-care / medical professional. If in doubt, always consult your doctor or health-care professional.

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