Most of the time, life doesn’t work out the way you expect and you find yourself pregnant in your late 30s. Your doctor will mostly likely tell you that you’re at Advance Maternal Age, but what does that mean? Well, don’t stress. Here’s my experience on how I navigated this important time in my life.
Important note: I am not a healthcare professional. The tips suggested in this blog post are not endorsed by a doctor. For complete and accurate information regarding pregnancy and Advanced Maternal Age, please contact a healthcare professional.
So, I recently had my fifth child and I am 38 years old. It was always the plan to be done at 34 years old but then we decided to have one more. Although being pregnant at any age is difficult, it definitely has its own set of challenges at Advanced Maternal Age. But I’ve also learned some great tips to make this short 9 months of my life very manageable. Take a look.
What is Advanced Maternal Age?
According to the Mayo Clinic, many women are delaying pregnancy well into their 30s and beyond — and delivering healthy babies. It’s just that at age 35 or older, various risks become more discussion worthy, such as:
- It might take longer to get pregnant
- The risk of chromosome abnormalities is higher
- You’re more likely to have a multiple pregnancy
- The risk of pregnancy loss is higher
- You’re more likely to develop gestational diabetes
- You might need a C-section
- You’re more likely to to have a low birth weight baby and a premature birth
With all of that being said, more women are having kids later in life, according to the Centers for Disease Control. In 2010, 45.9 out of every 1,000 women aged 35 to 39 gave birth, and in 2018, that number was up to 52.6 out of every 1,000 women aged 35 to 39. So, don’t be afraid to have another child just because you are older.
I didn’t noticed a huge difference physically between this pregnancy and any of my four other pregnancies before I was placed in the high-risk category. I was still the same amount of tired. Heart burn was still constant and I was still gaining the same amount of weight. I think the only exception is that my ankles were swollen and I never had swollen ankles during pregnancy.
I developed preeclampsia
I’m not sure if I got preeclampsia because I was older, but I definitely didn’t have it during my other pregnancies. Basically, preeclampsia is a pregnancy complication characterized by high blood pressure and signs of damage to another organ system, most often the liver and kidneys. My blood pressure starting getting higher around 34 weeks. Immediately, my doctor implemented various precautions to ensure a safe delivery:
- Non-stress tests twice per week
- Blood samples once per week
- Steroid shots
- Weekly doctor visits
- Early induction at 37 weeks
At first I wondered what the big deal was but then I realized that doctors don’t mess around with high blood pressure. If you let it get too high, it can cause liver and kidney failure, seizures and other complications. So, in the end I was grateful because I ended up being induced at 36 weeks because my blood pressure was 183/100. If I had waited until I was 40 weeks along, me and my baby might not have survived.
I received magnesium sulfate
I had never heard of this drug before. But when I was in the delivery room, I was informed that I would be receiving magnesium sulfate to reduce the risk of seizures. The only draw back was that I had to be on the drug for a full 24 hours after I delivered the baby. Side effects of the drug included vomiting, hot and cold flashes, headache, nausea and exhaustion. In other words, you feel like you have the world’s worst flu. I am not going to lie, it was awful and miserable. Just when I wanted to be up and moving around and enjoying my baby, I was forced to stay in bed with a catheter and an IV. But the alternative was much worse, so I had to grin and bear it.
Despite the physical challenges that I experienced, it was all worth it when I held my new baby in my arms. That little baby made me forget all the pain and struggles. She is beautiful and I feel so blessed to have her in my life. If you’re wondering if you are too old to have another baby, just consider the lifetime of joy and happiness that little baby will give you. It will make the nine months of being pregnant definitely worth it. Here’s a cute video of my boys meeting our cute baby for the first time.
What what your experience with having a baby at Advance Maternal Age? Leave your comments below.
Related link: My #1 post-partum regret: Don’t let this happen to you