Preparing for Pregnancy After 40


Preparing for Pregnancy After 40


Written by: Mary Ann Keeling

Whether it is by choice or unavoidable circumstances, you’ve chosen to fall pregnant after the age of 40. Without doubt, you are aware by now that mature pregnancies carry their own risks and difficulties. With that, there are a variety of things a woman can do to prepare for her pregnancy and help ensure that it is without complication or problem. There are no guarantees in life, but it never hurts to prepare. And pregnancy is no different.

The Risks

First, you probably already know the risks, but it is worth re-stating for clarity. Foremost among the possible risks and complications is the fact that you will have a harder time getting pregnant. The unfortunate fact of life is that from age 35 onwards (sometimes sooner, sometimes later) you are less fertile than a younger woman. And the longer you wait, the harder it will be. Your egg supply decreases significantly with age and older eggs are also at a higher risk of having chromosomal problems. At age 40, the risk of having a child with Down Syndrome is 1 in 100, and by 45 the risk is close to 1 in 30. You also have a higher risk of having a small or pre-term baby. Having a difficult pregnancy is more likely.

Don’t forget, it isn’t all your fault either. You likely have an older male partner as well, and recent studies have also noted a possible link between the fathers age and the risk of genetic conditions, such as Down Syndrome, Autism or Schizophrenia.

Are You Doomed to A High-Risk Pregnancy? 

The answer, of course, is not necessarily. Everybody is different, and there is nothing magic about the age of 40. A number only means so much, what matters is your body and your health. In fact, many of the stats used to classify mature pregnancy as “high-risk” are themselves quite old and perhaps no longer relevant. More recent studies have shown that only one in 1,600 women will experience a miscarriage in the second-trimester who are over the age of 35. The risks are still there, but thanks to modern medicine and health trends, the age at which a pregnancy is risky continues to creep up. And according to Nancy He, age is less important than you think. There is, after all, no specific age when your eggs are no longer fertile.

How to Prepare for Pregnancy After 40

In much the same way a younger woman should, there are many ways to prepare for a healthy and uncomplicated pregnancy.

Have a Pre-Conception Visit with Your Doctor

Your best bet is to be fighting fit before ever even trying to conceive. That starts with a full health check-up from your doctor, ob-gyn or midwife. Your doctor will go over your medical history and check for any obvious risks, such as diabetes or vitamin deficiencies. High blood pressure, missed immunizations, asthma or sexually transmitted diseases can also place your potential pregnancy and future child at risk. The first step is to have these under control if they exist.

They may also refer you to a fertility specialist who can help further. If you have had trouble falling pregnant in the past, or a history of complications, then this might be your first step. Some of the things they will check for is fibroids, endometriosis, polycystic ovary syndrome, past surgeries, cancer, thyroid disease or more. Each of these can present difficulties in falling pregnant and having these in check is the first step to a healthy pregnancy.

Beyond A Visit to The Doctor – Taking Matters into Your Own Hands

Folate, in the form of Folic Acid has shown proven benefits for pregnancies. It is recommended that a woman begin taking 400 micrograms of folic acid at minimum one month before trying to conceive. And to continue this dosage into the first trimester. This can help reduce the risk of neural-tube defects like Spina Bifida by 50 – 70 percent. As well as multiple other birth defects.

What to Get Rid Of

You probably know this already, but drinking alcohol, smoking and taking drugs can all lead to complications with pregnancy, potential miscarriage or premature birth. But it can also affect your fertility and that of your partner. It is best to stop long before trying to conceive.

Eat Healthy, Nutritious Food

Your body requires healthy food to survive. This fact is doubled when pregnant or trying to conceive. Even before falling pregnant (when you will be eating for two) your body requires certain nutrients and vitamins to increase your fertility.

In fact, separate phases of your cycle require a different kind of diet for optimal fertility. For example, during menstruation you want to eat lots of meat, beans, fish, leafy greens and seeds and avoid cold foods, alcohol and spicy foods.

During your follicular phase, nuts, seeds, green vegetables, eggs and fish are your friend. And alcohol is a definite no-no.

Ovulation requires a diet of leafy greens, whole grains, eggs, meat, fish and lots of water. While also avoiding acidic foods, coffee and processed foods.

Finally, the luteal phase requires a diet of soups and stews, it is important to create higher temperatures in your body to help hold a pregnancy. Cold or raw foods, such as yoghurt and ice cream are best avoided during this time.

Most of All? Maintain A Healthy Weight

Perhaps the most important item on this list is to maintain a healthy weight. The difficulties of conception and pregnancy at an advanced age are already hard enough. Adding the difficulties that come with either a low or high Body Mass Index (BMI) is only going to hurt. In many cases, simply reaching a healthy weight could be enough to achieve the level of fertility required to fall pregnant, and to maintain that pregnancy.

With this information here and elsewhere available, hopefully you can buck the outdated notion that pregnancy after 40 is “high-risk.” In fact, there can be many advantages to having children later in life. The risks are real, but they can be managed. Seek out a proper health check before trying to conceive, lead a healthy life and eat a nutritious diet. And with that information, there’s no doubt that you will not only fall pregnant soon, but lead a happy and uncomplicated pregnancy to fruition. And soon after, give birth to a healthy child who will bring joy into your life.

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