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High-risk pregnancies require specialized expert care: First pregnancy in women over 40

There is an increasing number of women who are 40 years of age and older when they become pregnant for the first time. Advanced age is a pregnancy risk factor that may jeopardize both mother and child. Yet, with specialized expert care at Bumrungrad’s Women’s Center, the potential complications are identified in time and best care possible is assured.
 



High-risk pregnancies require specialized expert care: First pregnancy in women over 40
 

There is an increasing number of women who are 40 years of age and older when they become pregnant for the first time. Advanced age is a pregnancy risk factor that may jeopardize both mother and child. Yet, with specialized expert care at Bumrungrad’s Women’s Center, the potential complications are identified in time and best care possible is assured.


Should women above 40 have concerns about being pregnant at this age?
 

Lifestyles are changing. The mean age of mothers at the birth of their first child is increasing. Couples today tend to have families at a later age than in the past. In Germany alone, one in every four women today gives birth with an age of at least 35. Similar trends are observed in Asia.
 
If assessed in time and monitored properly, today’s medical experts and field are well able to ensure a safe pregnancy for women above 40. Appropriate monitoring and management by Bumrungrad’s multidisciplinary team help assure the safety of expecting mothers in their early forties. As with younger expecting women, Bumrungrad specialists encourage vaginal birth. Proper interdisciplinary supervision and care ensure expectant mothers a fairly normal pregnancy.
 
This critical age span above 40 is therefore no longer a reason that a woman might hesitate from getting pregnant with her first child. Much is also at the discretion of the mother. The choices she makes even before conception – such as what concerns her general state of health - can have a lasting effect on the pregnancy and the baby.


What are the risks of advanced maternal age?
 

In medicine, a pregnancy at the age of 35 years or older is defined as an advanced maternal age, quite often showing conditions that are not common in younger pregnant women. Associated pregnancy risks become more pronounced for women especially over the age of 40.
For instance, they are more susceptible to hypertension and preeclampsia, with the latter being high blood pressure accompanied by protein in the urine during pregnancy - in some cases accompanied by signs of swelling in the legs and also hands, if the severity of the condition increases.
Gestational diabetes, which is abnormally high blood sugar during pregnancy, is another common condition older mothers-to-be could face.
Additionally, the rate of birth abnormalities or genetic conditions in the baby increases. Fetal chromosomal abnormalities and some congenital anomalies occur more often in children being carried by older women.
 
Among a variety of tests, non-invasive prenatal testing (NIPT) collects DNA that is extracted from a maternal blood sample to screen for specific chromosome problems, such as Down syndrome, trisomy 13 and trisomy 18. At Bumrungrad, interdisciplinary expert teams are well versed to put the mind of the expectant mother about any possible complications at ease and safeguard the health of the child.


Can a pregnant woman with advanced age have vaginal birth?
 

Generally, expectant women above 40 are more likely to be suggested cesarean section, but at Bumrungrad International, specialist teams consider the overall condition of the mother and baby. Advanced age alone is not a contraindication for vaginal delivery, and overall conditions are determined to ensure a safe delivery. The birthing plan is discussed beforehand, considering overall risk factors and the wishes of the parents.
 
Obstetricians will consider the most appropriate delivery method to ensure a safe pregnancy and birth. Bumrungrad specialist teams pursue a policy of combined care, which in the case of challenging pregnancies means obstetricians coordinate in a multidisciplinary team.


What can older women do to reduce pregnancy risks?


The older the mother is, the higher are the risks. Yet, the mother’s general health reflects on her baby. A preconception assessment by your preferred health care provider is most advisable. Your doctor will assess your health and recommend lifestyle changes, if needed.
 
In the following months, regular prenatal care will be of utmost importance to monitor your and your baby’s health. With it, a healthy diet, weight control, staying active and getting enough rest will ensure your well-being and the healthy development of your child. During this crucial time, risky substances such as alcohol and cigarettes must be avoided.


Bumrungrad is uniquely positioned to take care of advanced maternal pregnancies
 

Pregnant women above 40 - even those who feel physically fit and lead a healthy lifestyle - are considered to carry a high-risk pregnancy that requires an experienced specialist team to take care of both mother and baby during pregnancy, delivery and postpartum.
 
Preconception checkup programs help find treatable risks and control preexisting risks. Specialist consultations and examinations assist to make informed decisions about the timing of childbearing. Bumrungrad offers everything that concerned parents need.


What about a woman’s difficulties getting pregnant at older age?
 

Women of advanced age are also more prone to fertility problems and can have difficulties getting pregnant. Each woman is born with a set number of eggs and releases an egg each time she ovulates, which is about 14 days before the beginning of the period. As a woman gets older, she has fewer and fewer eggs, and the remaining eggs aren’t easily fertilized by a man’s sperm.
 
All this makes it harder for the woman to get pregnant. If you are a woman older than 35 and have been trying for six months or longer to get pregnant, you may contact our Bumrungrad specialists at Fertility Center & IVF Clinic. Our expert specialists assist you in fulfilling your wish of having your child.

 
 

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