We invited Natalie, a Certified Doula to talk with us about geriatric pregnancy. Together, we answer a lot of your questions and dive into a wide range of topics that can help educate, support + empower you to make the best decision for your body + your baby!
Who is considered “geriatric” or of advanced maternal age?
Anyone who is 35 years of age and older and is pregnant.
Does being “geriatric” or of advanced maternal age come with increased risk factors?
Yes and No. What we mean is there are a variety of other factors other than age that can impact a woman’s pregnancy. Your health, diet, lifestyle and weight all are contributing factors in determining the level of “risk” associated with your pregnancy.
Some of the common risk factors that are associated with age are:
- Down syndrome
- Still birth
While looking at this list can be scary, I highly encourage you to do your research. The reason being is because when studies say “the risk factor goes up,” that can mean a variety of things. For example, the risk of still birth for women under the age of 35 is 0.6%. At 40, the risk goes up to 0.81%. While the risk does go up, the percentage is still a fraction of 1%. This isn’t the case for all risk factors associated with age, so definitely do your research and talk with your OB or Midwife.
Should I have a planned C-Section knowing the risks prior to birth?
No. You can absolutely give birth vaginally if you are 35 and older.
If I am of advanced maternal age, should I choose to have the genetic testing done?
This is a personal choice and completely up to you. The most common genetic tests are done at around 10 weeks and again between 15-20 weeks. The first genetic test completed around 10 weeks checks for genetic disorders such as down syndrome and spina bifida. This test is around 99% effective.
The second round of genetic testing is completed between 15-20 weeks and tests for the same thing along with a few more genetic disorders. This round of testing has around a 50% chance getting a false positive so definitely talk to your OB or Midwife prior to getting this done.
What additional testing would I need to have done if I get pregnant and am over the age of 35?
There are actually no mandatory tests needed for women over the age of 35. You can choose to have the genetic testing done, but other than that, it completely depends on your health and your provider.
Some providers will have anyone over the age of 35 go through stress tests beginning at 36 weeks and recommend induction at week 39. This completely depends on your provider, so be sure to talk to them to understand their policies and practices.
Is there an increased risk of postpartum depression, hormone depletion and burn out among those of advanced maternal age?
No, there isn’t any research out there that indicates a woman who is 35 years of age or older is at greater risk.
Do women who are 35 and older have a harder time with breast milk production?
No. Studies have found that women over age 35 actually have an easier time with milk production than those under age 35.
If I am thinking about getting pregnant and am over the age of 35, are there things I should do proactively?
Yes! The healthier you are, the better off you’re going to be. For all women over the age of 35, we recommend:
- Setting up an appointment with your Physician to do a full physical.
- If you are overweight, obese or have a high BMI rate, try to lose some weight and change your diet to ensure you go into pregnancy as healthy as possible.
- Do your research.
The more prepared you are with questions to ask your Midwife or OB about geriatric pregnancy, the more informed you’re going to be which will help you go into pregnancy with less stress and anxiety!
For help getting your health + fitness on the right track, check out the Knocked-Up Fitness® Membership. You’ll have access to workouts, tutorials, nutrition information, meal plans, recipes and so much more! Your two pre+postnatal coaches are also there to help answer questions, provide motivation and help guide you through every step of your pregnancy journey.
Coach Annie Tinker is a Certified Birth Doula and mom of 1. Coach Jen has a strength and Physical Therapy background and is also a mom of 2. Jen, like many of us, was considered “geriatric” for both her pregnancies.
Both these women are fantastic resources for you to use while an active member of the Knocked-Up Fitness® Membership! If you want more information about geriatric pregnancy, please don’t hesitate to reach out!