Nowadays, we all know that maternity is being postponed, currently standing at 31 years of age, according to the National Statistics Institute.

This basically means that the average woman has her first child at the age of 31.

When we reach the age of 40, there is still about 3% of women that will became pregnant but haven’t done it yet. While 3% may seem like a small percentage, it represents a significant number of couples who will require multidiciplinary support to get pregnant and carry a healthy pregnancy to term, for mother and child.

As an Assisted Reproduction Centre, we know the stress involved in finding pregnancy after this age, when in many cases you have to resort to IVF or Egg Donation treatment. Besides the emotional factor, it should be noted that in many cases, especially nowadays, women’s health in their 40’s is very good, thanks to the prevention programs, healthy habits and lifestyle, as well as early diagnosis and treatment of many illnesses that formerly contributed to an early deterioration of women’s health that made women not even consider motherhood.

This is why sometimes we pay less attention to purely biological aspects associated with maternal age and pregnancy and may gestate at this age, although some considerations should be into account.

So it is advisable to carry out an early preconceptional consultation to detect hidden pathologies, recommend healthy habits, a previous treatment with folic acid, etc. A complete blood test, a mammography, blood preasure control and a recent gynecological check-up would be the basics at this time.

If at any time an illness or problem that advices agaisnt pregnancy is detected, we should take into account and assess risks and benefits.

An exhaustive pregnancy control is also recommended, as hypertensive pregnancy disorders, gestational diabetes, thyroid problems, abnormal placental insertions, etc are also very frequent in this age range.

Regarding the future newborn’s health, we must be aware of the threat of miscarriage, preterm birth and prenatal diagnosis. In spontaneous pregnancies, the miscarriage rate is higher and the possibility of a chromosomal abnormality (Down Syndrome) is also higher. It is therefore highly recommended to get an obstetrical follow up by a high-risk unit and pay special attention to both the first trimester Combined Screening and the morphological ultrasound scan.

After birth, the mother should be properly monitored and if there has been any pathology during pregnancy such as Gestational Diabetes, appropiate controls are recommended to protect her from getting a future Type II Diabetes.

We should not forget that fertility is lower after the age of 40, so if we are looking for pregnancy and it does not arrive within a reasonable time, we should not delay consulting with a specialist.

 

Dr. José Manuel Gómez, Instituto Bernabeu Gynecologist

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Becoming a mother after 40
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