For all women, especially those who are career-oriented and new mothers, pregnancy can be a beautiful yet difficult and confusing time. The society is keen to provide suggestions on the best age and the practices of pregnancy, but it is best to understand these aspects based on the woman’s own unique health factors.
The fertility rate in India has been declining by approximately 1% each year since the last decade due to lifestyle changes and other factors. Currently, women are recorded to be the most fertile in their late twenties, which is 25- 29 years of age. Fertility isn’t affected much until 35 years, after which complications in conceiving start to occur and may need help from fertility specialists. Some of the ways in which age after 35 years starts to affect pregnancy are:
1. Gestational diabetes (GDM): When the body is unable to produce an adequate amount of insulin during pregnancy, it can lead to gestational diabetes. Other than age, factors like obesity, a sedentary lifestyle, and a history of diabetes in the family can increase the case of diabetes. GDM increases the risk of large babies where the fetus has a higher weight than excepted.
2. High blood pressure: Hypertension, can be more commonly found in the older population. When women get pregnant at an old age, they may develop hypertension even if they did not have it before. High blood pressure can impact the growth of fetus.
3. Post-dated pregnancy: As the age advances, the risk of postdatism (beyond 42 weeks) increases. In postdatism, women fail to go into labour naturally and spontaneously. In such cases, the doctor will induce the labour.
4. Increased C-Section Delivery: In view of the increased risk of hypertension, GDM, placenta previa, postdatism, the chances of C-section increase to eliminate the above-mentioned risk factors.
5. Placenta praevia: As age advances, the risk of placenta praevia increases where the placenta is lying close to the cervix partly or completely over the cervix which requires C-section delivery.
6. Chances of miscarriage: As age advances, the risk of miscarriage increases. Most of the time, the miscarriage is because of chromosomal abnormalities.
7. Chromosomal conditions: The risk of conditions like Down syndrome increases with mother’s age.
Taking the decision to bring a new life into the world is a very important decision and must not be taken lightly. There are many factors that affect a pregnancy other than age such as – medical conditions of the mother, financial conditions of the house, availability of time, and more. A big decision like this must not be taken under ignorance or pressure from family members. It is recommended to seek support from a doctor/ gynaecologist to understand one’s health condition and other factors before taking the decision of pregnancy. With correct eating and exercising habits, early diagnosis of diseases, and informed lifestyle decisions one can have a successful and healthy advanced pregnancy period. In case, ailments occur, with advanced technology and the support of doctors, the issue can be resolved.
(The author is Dr. Asmita Dongare, Consultant – Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Manipal Hospitals, Baner- Pune)
(Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author. They do not reflect the views of India TV)
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