There is a new study that claims that the best age to have a baby is when the mother is 34 years of age. This has come as quite a shock to couples who believed that 20’s was well suited and favorable for them to conceive. But, that’s just another study out of several that weigh down the benefits and drawbacks of pregnancy at different points of their life. Let’s look at the positives and negatives on how maternal age affects pregnancy.
Getting Pregnant Before 20:
Every year, 4 million teenage girls in India give birth. The statistics are quite shocking when compared to other developing countries and less developed countries. However, India has reduced the total number of teen pregnancies by half in the past decade. In the past, rural areas contributed the most to this trend, but a recent survey (Feb’17) published by TOI reported 8099 teen pregnancies in Bengaluru urban in a span of 10 months.
Risks in pregnancy:
Teenage Pregnancy brings with it a lot of risks to the mother and the baby. These include higher risk of stillbirth, newborn death, preeclampsia, premature labor, low birth weight and C-section. Pregnant Teen mothers also have difficulty getting in optimum nutrition. They have higher chances of suffering from anemia.
The pelvis of a teenage girl is not yet developed to give birth to a baby and thus, the process of labor and delivery can pose a lot of complications.
Having a good support system is crucial for the mother. If you are around a teen pregnant women, support her and be with her as much as you can. The society has already made her feel like dirt. Teen Mothers do not receive equal respect and dignity, which is wrong. Teen mothers who are around people who help them and stand by them throughout are able to make better decisions in their life regarding their career and personal choice. They also feel more established as a parent.
Getting pregnant in your 20’s:
20’s is considered the most favorable time by the doctors and researchers around to get pregnant. It’s considered to be the most favorable because a mother’s body and mind both have the maturity to handle the responsibility of the baby.
Fertility in the 20’s:
Fertility is maximum in mid-20’s and all couples between the age of 19-26 have a 50% chance of getting pregnant each month. (Only if they have sex in the most fertile days). The chances drop by 10% when they reach the age of 27. Generally speaking, any difference between the risks or uncertainties associated with pregnancy in your early and late 20’s is negligible.
Risks in pregnancy:
There are lower risks of miscarriages and chromosomal abnormalities when the mother’s age. The miscarriage rate is 10%. Your body is young and healthy so it will able to cope up with any infections and health issues in a better way. The bones, muscles will be able to cope up with the baby’s development easily. Ovulation is also more predictable at this time as menstrual cycle becomes regular and predictive.
Risks to mother and baby:
There are no additional rates of any risks to either the mother or the baby when the pregnancy is in the 20s. Any complications that may arise can be due to the health problems that you individually face like PCOS, uterine fibroids, thyroid problems etc. First pregnancy also holds a higher risk for preeclampsia.
Getting pregnant in 30’s:
A woman’s chance of conceiving in her 30’s is 40% each month when she has sex on her most fertile days. The chances drop to 30% after the age of 34. If a woman is aged 35 or higher and has a partner older in age might have only 20% chances of conceiving each month.
An interesting point to note here is that semen quality is high among men aged 30-35. Sperm motility is, however, high before the age of 25 and starts decreasing gradually after the age of 25. When a woman is over 35, it’s the man’s age that matters more. If a man is older by 5 years of age or more, chromosomal abnormalities, genetic defects, and birth defects are more prevalent.
These numbers and stats are valid only if you are in great health and suffer from no other conditions such as hormonal problems or endometriosis. In that case, the possibility of conception is even less for you as apart from a drop in egg quality and egg maturity, there are other significant factors too, which affect the fertility.
Risks in Pregnancy:
Mother’s risk of Gestational Diabetes and Preeclampsia increases after the age of 35. Chances of C-section also increases by 43% as compared to 30% in mothers who are in their 20’s.
Another major concern is Down syndrome whose risk increases from 1 in 1000 to 1 in 400 for mothers above 35 years of age. A drastic increase in chromosomal abnormalities 1 in 400 to 1 in 200 is also seen in mothers over age 35.
Mothers in this age group also have to frequently take the tests for various problems like amniocentesis, chorionic villus sampling etc.
Some advantages of mothers being in their 30’s is increased financial stability and emotional maturity. Mothers in their 30’s know how to cope with stress in a better way due to more experience. They also have support because most of their friends would either be pregnant or already have babies. They also have more flexibility and strength to deal with nighttime feedings and baby tantrums than someone in their 40’s.
Getting Pregnant in the 40’s:
Getting pregnant in 40’s is a huge bet for both the mother and the baby. No matter how healthy you are, your pregnancy in 40’s is a high-risk pregnancy. Getting pregnant is not easy at all as your cycle might start to get irregular and the egg quality decreases tremendously.
Risks in Pregnancy:
Miscarriage rates double when a woman is in her 40s increasing to 34% in early 40s and jumping to around 53% in late 40s. At 40, the risk of a baby born with Down syndrome is 1 in 100 and at 45, it’s 1 in 30. The risk of chromosomal abnormalities also almost doubles from 35-40 when you are in your 40’s. Not to forget the risks of every other complication from Gestational Diabetes to C-section increasing too.
The only upside to pregnancy in 40’s is the same as in 30’s. A woman in 40’s is much more emotionally and financially stable than a woman in 20’s and 30’s.
There are many women who have successfully delivered the baby in teen years and there are women who have done it while in their 40’s. So, clearly sometimes it’s not about how a mother’s age affects her pregnancy, it’s just about FATE. Making some healthy changes can also affect your fertility a lot.
What were your age and experience when you got pregnant? Tell us in the Comments section below.