As the typical age for entering into marriage has increased, so has the age at which many experience parenthood for the first time. While previously it was common to marry between the ages of 20 and 25, nowadays it’s often between 30 and 35. Consequently, having children in one’s 30s or later is no longer considered out of the ordinary.
In today’s society, expectant mothers over the age of 35 might not be seen as unusually old, yet from a biological standpoint, they are indeed considered to be of advanced maternal age. Social attitudes towards pregnancy later in life have shifted significantly from what they were in the past. Nonetheless, the biological realities of aging have not changed, and the risks associated with later pregnancies remain. For instance, the risk of developing conditions like stomach and breast cancer escalates after the age of 40. Similarly, the incidence of metabolic syndromes such as hypertension and diabetes increases markedly after 50. These are all natural aspects of the aging process. Therefore, it is crucial to exercise special care and management during pregnancy, especially as one’s age advances.
Engaging in aerobic exercise three times a week can bolster the cardiovascular health of pregnant women.
Such exercise can enhance physical stamina and muscle strength, contributing to a smoother childbirth process. A stronger heart and circulatory system can more readily adapt to the hemodynamic changes that pregnancy brings, and also assist expectant mothers in managing their weight effectively during pregnancy.
When starting an exercise routine, it’s important to keep the intensity moderate and increase it gradually day by day. Since everyone’s physical condition during pregnancy is unique, it’s essential to consult with an obstetrician before beginning any aerobic exercise program.
Taking Iron Supplements
Expectant mothers of advanced age are often guided to increase their iron intake. This is crucial as the body’s iron needs spike during pregnancy to support the increased blood volume required for oxygen transport to the mother and her growing baby. Iron is also essential for the baby’s development and to fortify the mother against the blood loss that occurs during delivery.
As women grow older, the likelihood of anemia—a shortage of red blood cells—goes up, particularly during the strains of pregnancy. To mitigate the risk of premature birth and to aid in the baby’s cognitive development, maintaining robust iron levels is key. Hence, health practitioners typically recommend iron supplementation for older pregnant women to ensure the well-being of both the mother and her baby.
Prenatal Screening for Fetal Anomalies
For expectant mothers over the age of 35, the likelihood of having a child with chromosomal abnormalities, such as Down syndrome, increases. Additionally, the age of the mother is closely linked to the probability of giving birth to a baby with congenital anomalies. Understanding in advance the potential impact of the mother’s age on the fetus is key to making well-informed and comprehensive preparations.
Pregnant women should moderate their intake of high-sugar fruits
Fruits, packed with essential vitamins and fibers, are a cornerstone of a healthy diet, yet they can also be high in natural sugars. This is an important consideration for expectant mothers, whose blood sugar levels can be more reactive to dietary sugars.
As the body ages, its ability to regulate the sugar spikes from these fruits diminishes. Pregnant women craving sweetness or a mood boost should enjoy these fruits sparingly. Examples of fruits that are high in sugar include mangoes, grapes, cherries, bananas, and dried fruits like raisins and dates. It’s best to consume such fruits in moderation to maintain balanced blood sugar levels.
Weight management during pregnancy is essential for reducing the risk of gestational diabetes and preeclampsia. Excessive weight gain may narrow the birth canal, which can lead to fatigue during labor for older mothers, weakening the force needed to push the baby through the birth passage. A narrowed birth canal increases the likelihood of a difficult delivery, which must be cautiously avoided. To ensure a smoother labor, it’s important to avoid excessive weight gain.
Do pelvic soothing poses or pregnancy yoga
As we age, our bodies often become less flexible. This loss of flexibility affects the pelvic ligaments and connective tissues, especially in older expectant mothers. Regularly practicing movements that ease stiffness in the pelvic ligaments is beneficial. Prenatal yoga can also enhance overall flexibility and aid in a smoother childbirth.
Take folic acid every day
Expectant mothers of advanced maternal age are particularly encouraged to maintain a daily regimen of folic acid. This B vitamin is pivotal for preventing neural tube defects—serious birth defects of the baby’s brain and spine. As women grow older, the risk of birthing a child with such anomalies may increase. Folic acid plays a key role in cellular growth and DNA formation, contributing to overall fetal development. Its consistent intake supports the creation of new cells and the synthesis of genetic material. This is why healthcare providers often suggest a regular folic acid supplement as a proactive measure to safeguard against developmental complications during these crucial early stages of pregnancy.
Intake of Calcium
For older expectant mothers, calcium is vital. As maternal bones naturally weaken with age, the baby’s growth demands substantial calcium, risking the mother’s bone density if her intake is inadequate. This mineral is also key in regulating blood pressure, crucial given the increased risk of hypertension in later years, which can lead to complications like preeclampsia. Furthermore, calcium plays a critical role in muscle function, essential for the physical demands of childbirth. Ensuring sufficient calcium intake supports the health of the mother and aids in the baby’s development, making it an indispensable part of prenatal care for older women.