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For various reasons, many women today are waiting longer to have babies.
A Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report indicates that from 2017 to 2018, birth rates declined for women aged 15-34 but rose for women aged 35-44.
Today, more women who delay pregnancy are using assisted reproductive technologies and freezing their eggs for future use.
It’s important to be realistic about what it means to have a baby later in life.
After age 35, it typically becomes more difficult to get pregnant. A healthy 30-year-old woman has about a 20 percent chance of getting pregnant each month, while her chances drop to only 5 percent by age 40, states the American Society for Reproductive Medicine.
As a woman ages, her fertility declines due to changes in her menstrual cycle and the number and quality of eggs she has remaining in her ovaries. Even if a woman decides to freeze her eggs, elective egg freezing is most successful for women younger than 38.
Younger women also tend to have healthier pregnancies. Women who become pregnant after age 35 have a higher risk of pregnancy-related complications, including chromosomal abnormalities, miscarriage and preterm birth. Also, the risk of developing preeclampsia increases after age 40.
The chances of a C-section tends to increase with the mother’s age as well. According to the National Center for Health Statistics, the C-section rate for women older than 40 is almost double the rate for women between ages 20 to 24.
Despite the challenges, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists says that many women older than 35 can have healthy pregnancies and babies.
What are some healthy ways to approach pregnancy after age 35?
Every woman is different and age alone is only part of the equation — a woman’s overall health and lifestyle choices factor in too. There are many older moms who go on to have healthy pregnancies and babies. If you’re thinking about starting a family and you have any questions, talk with your doctor.
Learn more about pregnancy and baby services at Edward-Elmhurst Health.
5 things to know about freezing your eggs
Trying to conceive? 4 ways to improve your chances
7 steps to take before you start trying for a baby
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