Advanced Maternal Age
Women are told we have a biological ticking clock away and our eggs are withering and begin dying the minute we hit 30. Advanced Maternal Age is the medical diagnosis given to women who are pregnant and over the age of 35.
We have always heard statements like: “I have to see this provider because I am high risk because of my age.” But more and more women and couples choosing to start families later and later in life, all the way into their mid-forties with almost no increase in risks.
The reason for waiting or being relaxed about starting a family is for a multitude of reasons
- Accomplishing career goals
- Being financially stable
- Being in a stable relationship for a determined amount of time
- Needing fertility assistance
What are the risks of being a late life pregnant person? The common fears are having a baby born with Downs Syndrome, miscarriage, and stillbirth. The numbers don’t lie though, and the highest risk is the lowering fertility rate as we get older.
If you’re concerned about the scary statistics surrounding later life motherhood consider this advice:
- Always look at the date of the statistic’s source.
- What, if any, were inclusions or exclusions of factors that affect fertility – weight, previous medical conditions, etc.?
- Statistics of advanced maternal pregnancy and associated complications, as they are today, will not show up in studies for several years to come.
One of the most important choices you can make during your pregnancy is choosing the right healthcare provider. As with any pregnancy or medical event, one size does not fit all and it is always a good idea to weigh your options carefully. If considering a midwife, you should be aware that there are different types of midwives and their scope of practice, experience and education may vary. Midwives also attend deliveries in a variety of settings including home, birth center and hospital. Many work independently while others are employed in a group practice, such as an OBGYN office.
When interviewing your prospective provider, discuss your desires surrounding your pregnancy and childbirth experience. Ask their philosophies on advanced maternal age pregnancies and if they consider you high risk simply for being older. Childbearing women who are considered advanced maternal age generally have normal pregnancies without complications, so having a low risk provider, such as a home birth or birth center midwife, isn’t off the table as an option. Midwives are trained to recognize complications and variations of “normal.” They often collaborate with other providers such as obstetricians, maternal-fetal specialists, chiropractors, massage therapists and lactation consultants. Talk with your prospective providers about your risk factors. During the interview process with all healthcare providers, you may wish to disclose your age and any other concerns that may impact the care you will receive.
Inquire about any relative policies, protocols or guidelines that may affect your care.
You may wish to research your options for genetic testing and find out which tests are offered. Your age and circumstance can determine the amount or types of tests offered or suggested. Ask which conditions you are at increased risk for and how you will be screened. Find out the provider’s policy in the event that a high-risk condition develops during your pregnancy, delivery or postpartum period. Are there other providers in their practice that are available to co-manage those complications or would you need to transfer to another group?
A late life pregnancy is nothing to be scared of, so find providers who feel the same way. You deserve to have quality care that makes you feel supported and happy. Doulas can guide you as you create your support team and approach your labor and birth. They understand the complexity of the healthcare system and why certain providers do things differently.