These days people start families in their thirties and not in their twenties. Instead of starting out their families right after college, more and more people are focusing on work, having some fun, and putting off parenthood until the next decade of their life. In fact, statistics show that the birth rate for women in their 20’s is on the decrease while it’s going up for women in their 30’s, it is at a point where they are just about the same.
It’s a blessing to become a mother whenever the timing is right for a family, but there are some medical realities that women should know about being pregnant in their 30’s. The most pressing is the issue of fertility, which starts to go down over time beginning at the age of 30. The rates of genetic conditions and pregnancy complications also go up with age. So moms need to be prepared to do all that they can to welcome a healthy baby.
A woman might feel young and healthy after her 30th birthday, but there are a few things that she might need to avoid to have the best chance for expanding her family. Here are 20 things pregnant women shouldn’t do if they’re over 30.
20 DON’T PANIC ABOUT GETTING PREGNANT
The 30th birthday is a celebration, and while some women might be concerned that they haven’t fulfilled their mom goals yet, there is no reason to panic. Yes, it is true that women are more fertile when they are in their 20’s, but more and more women are becoming first-time moms after the age of 30 these days.
According to A Verywell Family, fertility begins to decline after the age of 32, but it isn’t a dramatic dip until after the age of 37. Even then, medical breakthroughs mean that women can have babies in their 40’s or even early 50’s.
19 DON’T HESITATE TO SEE A FERTILITY SPECIALIST
With the decrease in fertility and the increase in the possibility of chromosomal issues as women age, we understand the pressure to try to get pregnant quicker. Fertility specialists recommend that women in their 20’s try to get pregnant naturally for several years before going through the expense of testing and procedures, but that time changes in the ’30s.
According to Fit Pregnancy, doctors recommend couples give it a try for a year, but when they are in their mid-30’s, hesitate to see the doctor after six months. Things get harder the longer you wait, so it’s okay to get a little help while you are more likely to have success.
18 DON’T WAIT TO SEE THE OB
Good prenatal care is important for every pregnancy, but it’s even more important for a woman in her 30’s. While it’s possible for women to have perfectly healthy pregnancies, even in their late 30’s, there is a greater likelihood for complications for the mom and the baby.
As women age, they are more likely to have complications like high BP and gestational diabetes, so the doctor will be on the lookout for any problems. After the age of 35, women are considered of “advanced maternal age,” and the need for good care and further testing is even greater at that point.
17 DON’T IGNORE CHRONIC CONDITIONS
One thing that sets a woman in her 30’s apart from a woman in her 20’s is that she is more likely to have a chronic ailment. From multiple sclerosis to an autoimmune disorder to diabetes or BP problems, there are a number of conditions that can impact the baby.
A mom-to-be needs to do all that she can to manage her situation while pregnant. She needs to consult the doctor about meds and control any issues such as high sugar in the body. A specialist will probably be called in so the mom and the baby can get the best care possible.
16 DON’T UNDERESTIMATE MISCARRIAGE POSSIBILITY
The possibility of miscarriage is high for just about every woman, unfortunately. Sometimes a woman can lose an embryo before she even knew she was pregnant, and other times a loss can happen in the first trimester or later with no warning. But according to Parenting magazine, the possibility goes up from about nine percent for women in their early 20’s to 11.7 percent for women in their early 30’s.
The risk goes up even further as women age, with the miscarriage rate at about 18 percent for women over 35. That can be horrifying for a woman who knows her fertility is going down over time, but it’s a fact of aging.
15 DON’T RULE OUT A C-SECTION
All moms should be flexible in their birth plan since complications can arise at any point during labor and delivery. While many women of any age can have a successful natural delivery, a C-section is a life-saving procedure that has been used for centuries and it might be necessary — even more likely for a woman as she ages.
Doctors aren’t sure of the reason, but according to Parenting, women in their early 30’s give birth via C-section at twice the rate of women in their 20’s. That rate remains throughout the decade and goes up even more in the ’40s. As long as the mom and the baby are healthy, that’s all that matters.
14 DON’T WAIT ON A SIBLING
Getting pregnant in your 30’s is a blessing, but moms who want to give their baby a sibling need to know that time isn’t exactly on their side. While they might prefer to wait a few years, their fertility is going to continue to decline during those years.
As we mentioned earlier, fertility drops slowly in the early 30s, but it increases in speed after 35. The success of fertility treatments also goes down as a woman ages. That might mean that the timeline for baby number two needs to be adjusted to make things a little easier and safer.
13 DON’T OVERDO IT AT WORK
Women in their 30’s have had some time to establish their careers, so pregnancy might be different for them than for a woman in her 20’s who isn’t as invested in her job. She might be in charge of a project that could have a big deadline or be considering a promotion that has her worried about work-life balance.
While every woman’s work situation is different, the one thing that we can suggest is that moms in their 30’s shouldn’t overdo it at work. Pregnancy can be exhausting, and while it’s okay to keep work a top priority it’s also important to listen to your body and make the baby a priority, too.
12 DON’T FORGET THE IMPORTANCE OF THE 20-WEEK SCAN
The 20-week scan can be really exciting for a mom since it is when she will learn if the baby is a boy or a girl. But women need to be cautious going in that the ultrasound is actually more about a medical check up on the developing baby. That is especially true for women in their 30’s and later.
WebMD published an article about a research study that showed that babies of women in their 30’s are less likely to have congenital deformities that are formed within the womb, but they are more likely to suffer from chromosomal issues. Sometimes that isn’t evident—even after amniocentesis—until the 20-week ultrasound.
11 DON’T SPEND TOO MUCH
The thing about young moms is that they often don’t have a lot of money at their disposal to spend on all types of baby products and extras. Budgets vary, but the truth is that a baby doesn’t need as much as you would think, and that is easier to swallow when your diaper and clothes budget is small.
Women in their 30’s often have more financial freedom, but that doesn’t mean that the baby needs a wardrobe full of designer onesies It’s a better idea to start a college fund or set aside some savings for braces. It’s nice to have a little extra for the baby, but don’t go overboard.
10 DON’T RISK PREEMIE BIRTH
Moms who are over 30 have a lot of risks in their pregnancy, and one statistic shows that they are more likely to have their baby early than if they were in their 20’s. That might be because of the other complications that are more likely to happen, but it’s something moms need to be aware of, since a premature baby has to deal with a lot of health barriers in life.
Some women might have to go on bed rest to try to avoid a preemie birth. That can be difficult, but it’s worth it since every day the baby remains inside means there is more time for the lungs and brain to develop.
9 DON’T LET THE BABY GO OVERDUE, EITHER
This tip doesn’t apply to all moms in their 30s, but there are a number of pregnancy conditions that are more likely for older moms that can make going overdue dangerous. For example, a mom who has gestational diabetes can face risks including stillbirth if the baby goes beyond the 39-week mark.
While some women are against the idea of induction these days, moms in their 30’s should listen carefully if doctors bring up the idea. There are some natural labor boosters that might be worth a try, but if Pitocin is needed, it’s possible that it could end up saving the baby’s life.
8 DON’T HESITATE TO GET HELP WITH PRESSURE
Another complication that is more common for women as they age is hypertension. It’s something that can be a problem before pregnancy and can happen during pregnancy and last for months. While both can be problematic, the really big problem comes when the BP spikes as part of pre-eclampsia, a condition where the mom’s body is breaking down.
Pre-eclampsia, which can also be marked by drastic swelling, can be dangerous for the mom and the baby. So it’s important that moms get treatment right away. Doctors also should monitor and help manage chronic hypertension. So don’t hesitate to speak up — two lives may depend on it.
7 DON’T SKIP THE GENETIC SCREENING
The likelihood that a baby will have a genetic condition increases with the age of a mother. Many women know that possibility with Down syndrome, and the statistics increase greatly in a woman’s ’30s. At the beginning of the decade, there is a one in 940 chance, which goes to one in 353 by 35 — and at 40, it’s one in 85.
Medical breakthroughs have allowed doctors to figure out the likelihood of the baby having Down syndrome and a number of other genetic conditions. There are tests that can happen early in the first trimester and can help the mom and doctor determine their best course of action.
6 DON’T SKIP PRENATAL VITAMINS
This bit of advice applies to all moms, but once a woman is over 30 it’s even more important — so don’t forget the prenatal vitamins. Chromosomal issues and early development problems are more prevalent as moms age, and the best way to try to combat that is to have the body as primed as possible.
Vitamins such as folic acid have been proven to reduce the risk of neural tube defects, which can be debilitating or even fatal for the baby. These defects happen around the time that a woman finds out she is pregnant, so if you are trying, go ahead and start the vitamins to give the baby the best chance.
5 DON’T UP THE SUGAR
As we’ve mentioned, the possibility of several pregnancy complications increases with age. Gestational diabetes is one of those that is more likely to happen to women in their 30’s. The condition has to do with the way that the pancreas functions during pregnancy, and the more sugar the mom eats, the worse it can be for her and the baby.
Some moms can manage the condition with healthy eating, but others might need meds or daily injections. The condition can cause problems with the baby’s development and health later in life, and there is an increased risk of stillbirth. So no matter how much a woman is craving sugar, she should keep her intake down.
4 DON’T WAIT TO SEE A FETAL SPECIALIST
At the age of 30, moms aren’t automatically tagged as high risk. But they are after the age of 35, and it could happen if the mom has any of a number of conditions that become more likely as they age. In those cases, the obstetrician will likely recommend that the mom sees a maternal-fetal specialist.
While it might be more annoying to have to go to twice as many doctor’s appointments, moms shouldn’t wait to make an appointment. The specialist will keep a close eye on any potential problems and help ensure a better outcome. It’s always better to have more care, no matter the age.
3 DON’T BE SURPRISED BY TWINS
While it might be more difficult to get pregnant with one baby after the age of 30, it’s actually a little easier to get pregnant with two. Moms who have entered their fourth decade shouldn’t be surprised to find out that they might be pregnant with twins.
There are several reasons for the increased possibility of twins, and one is definitely because women are more likely to use fertility treatments in their 30s or later. But it’s also a natural phenomenon since a woman is more likely to release more than one egg at a time in her 30s or later.
2 DON’T STOP EXERCISING
The thing about being pregnant in your 30’s is that most women are a bit set in their routines. They are either going to have a great exercise routine or not so much. But when they get pregnant, it’s more important than ever to establish or continue exercising regularly.
Women need to be strong to handle the body changes that come with pregnancy and the labor and delivery, so don’t skip the gym unless the doctor tells you to. Plus, it’s harder to get back in shape after birth when you are in your 30’s, so having a headstart during pregnancy is worth it.
1 DON’T STRESS
As an older mom-to-be, it can be hard to be given the advice not to stress. That’s especially true when it comes with warnings about all the things that can go wrong with the pregnancy when a woman is in her 30’s. But it’s sound advice that can make a big difference.
Major stress has been known to cause developmental and behavioral issues in the child later in life. Moms will already be going through so much with the testing and any potential complications, so they need to try their best to keep their stress as low as possible, for the baby’s sake.