First things first. We hate the term geriatric pregnancy as much as you do. We also hate the term that tries to replace it with a less offensive term: advanced maternal age. Both of these labels refer to a woman who is pregnant at age 35 or older. They were developed at a time when far fewer were having babies over the age of 35, and when less was known about the implications of pregnancy after age 35.
But what seems most offensive about these terms is that they seem to place a label on women that suggests a lack of confidence in the pregnant body, or that there is something inherently wrong with a woman's body after she turns 35. It’s just not true, and it causes unnecessary stress on many women that somehow their bodies can’t handle pregnancy as well as younger women.
The good news is, more and more women are proving the geriatric pregnancy label wrong as the number of pregnancies at age 35 and older continues to grow. The average age of a first time mother has grown from 21 in 1972 to 26 today. That number rises even more, into the low 30s, as data gets drilled down to certain locations and demographics.
We know that the reason for women choosing to start families later is primarily due to women taking a more active role in the workplace and wanting to establish their careers before stepping away to have a baby. It’s also more common for women to get an advanced degree these days, and many women report wanting to feel financially stable before starting a family. In addition, advances in and access to fertility treatments and genetic testing in recent years help dampen the fear about health complications in pregnancy at an older age.
While more risks do exist for women over age 35, there are many ways to support your body before and during pregnancy that can contribute to a healthy pregnancy and a healthy baby. We at Needed believe that mamas of all ages are strong and capable of carrying healthy pregnancies, and we’re here to support you through it. So we’ve compiled some helpful tips and reminders for optimal nourishment throughout your pregnancy.
Nourish from the start
Your health prior to pregnancy contributes to your health during pregnancy, so if you’re planning for an upcoming pregnancy, give your body and baby a running start and start taking a comprehensive prenatal now. We designed our Prenatal Multi to optimally support women at all ages and stages of pregnancy - before, during, and after.
Don’t skip the Omega-3
While Omega-3 is important for all pregnant women, a number of studies and randomized clinical trials indicate that supplementing with EPA and DHA can help lower some of the risks commonly associated with pregnancy after 35, including preterm labor and low birth weight. In addition, studies have shown that Omega-3 may help improve a woman’s chances of maintaining a viable pregnancy to term at all ages. Our Omega-3+ Capsules are sourced from cleanly and sustainably-grown vegan algae and include additional Choline to aid absorption, plus antioxidants Lutein and Zeaxanthin.
Movement has been shown to reduce the risk of a variety of pregnancy complications as well as to ease many pregnancy discomforts. You don’t need to crush CrossFit workouts or run a half marathon. Simple movement like walks and prenatal yoga or Pilates are beneficial for both your body and mind.
Look beyond the number
Remember that your age is just a number and that number may not reflect your true age. If you’ve been taking care of yourself for many years and feel healthy in body and mind, you probably are!
35 is also just a number. There isn’t a switch that flips inside your body at age 35 that tells all of your reproductive organs that you’re now geriatric. It’s simply an age that indicates providers to be aware of a greater chance of certain pregnancy risks.
We always recommend preconception nutrient testing if it is available to you, but women over 35 may benefit even more from this. The more years you have behind you, the longer you’ve had to accumulate nutrient deficiencies. On the flip side, you’ve also had longer to build up nutrient stores if you’ve been conscious of your lifestyle. Either way, testing can provide some peace of mind that your body is well nourished, or that you know exactly where it could use a little support to get to optimal levels.
In addition, there are a variety of genetic tests available now that can help determine your risks for certain genetic conditions that are more common after age 35. Be sure to ask your provider about them if you’re interested in learning more.
We want all women to feel empowered to follow their career aspirations and also start families when it feels right personally, professionally, and financially. Know that you are capable of creating a healthy baby no matter your age, and we’d be honored to be part of that journey.
Continue reading: Part II of this topic can be found here.