Later Pregnancy

If you want to have a baby it is important to talk to your Doctor. It is possible to deliver a healthy baby in your late 30’s and early 40’s. Women who give birth in this LifeStage encounter some unique issues and some that are common to all mothers.

Because pregnancy puts new demands on a woman's body, the risk of complications during pregnancy is higher for older women. They are more likely to need to visit the doctor more often, need special tests, and require special care during labor and delivery.

If you already are pregnant, getting early and regular prenatal care may increase your chances of having a healthy baby. Many problems, if found early, can be prevented or controlled.

High blood pressure poses risks to mother and baby, including problems with theplacenta and with the growth of thefetus. High blood pressure also may worsen during pregnancy.

With increasing age, women also are more likely to have diabetes or to develop gestational diabetes (diabetes that occurs during pregnancy). Women with diabetes are at greater risk for high blood pressure, pregnancy loss, and a condition in which a fetus grows too large (macrosomia).

You may encounter some fertility issues that your Doctor will work with you to overcome. And you should discuss with your OB/GYN the increased risk of birth degects.

Doctors rely on a woman's medical history, physical exams, and special procedures and tests to detect problems that may arise. In most cases, couples with risk factors have normal, healthy children. But they still need to be well informed and discuss their plans and any known problems with their doctors.

Women of all ages should talk to their doctors before trying to get pregnant. This is especially important for women in their 30s and 40s. This will help your doctor find out if you are at risk for certain problems and prevent or treat these problems before they can harm you or your baby.

You also may need certain tests and immunizations before you become pregnant. Your doctor also may suggest some lifestyle changes to help you get ready for pregnancy, such as:
  • Eat a healthy diet.
  • Try to lose weight, if you are overweight or obese.
  • Take a folic acid supplement.
  • Exercise regularly.
  • Stop smoking, drinking alcohol, and taking illegal drugs.
  • Reduce stress.
  • Get plenty of rest.
  • Make sure your immunizations are up to date.

Most women have healthy pregnancies and babies. If you want to have a baby, discuss any concerns you might have with your doctor. Pregnancy and childbirth can be exciting, rewarding events. Age need not be a barrier to a safe, healthy pregnancy.