What is geriatric pregnancy? Are you too old to have a baby??

Picture of by Dr. Sterling
by Dr. Sterling

What is Advanced Maternal Age (AMA)? AMA is defined as being 35 years of age or older at your baby’s estimated due date. You may have previously heard this referred to as a “geriatric pregnancy” however that is an antiquated term no longer used in the field.

While most fertility specialists recommend not getting pregnant, even if you are healthy, over 55 yrs old, there is no set upper age limit for pregnancy.

While most AMA pregnancies are healthy, it is true that Advanced Maternal Age is associated with an increased risk of certain complications, so let’s get into it!

Fertility and Conception:

As women age, fertility naturally declines and the chances of conceiving may decrease. One study found between 19-26 years of age there was a 50% chance of pregnancy with intercourse on the most fertile day versus a 30% chance for those between 35-39 years of age. However, remember that age is just one factor and fertility varies greatly among individuals regardless of age. 

If you’re struggling to conceive, seeking guidance from a fertility specialist can provide valuable insights and support. 

When to Seek Fertility Help?

Fertility and Conception:

As fertility specialists tend to book up far in advance, I would recommend making an appointment two months prior to the above criteria. For example, if you are 37 years old and have been trying for 4 months call and book your appointment for the 6 month mark. A bonus of making this appointment before you need it is that it takes some of the pressure off. You’ve already made the appointment and hey, you might not need it!

Potential Risks:

Advanced Maternal Age can be associated with an increased risk of certain pregnancy complications such as: gestational diabetes, high blood pressure, chromosomal abnormalities, preterm birth, low birth weight, and stillbirth. 

Due to these risks, prenatal care becomes even more critical and may include additional screening tests. However, don’t fret – there are many ways to monitor and mitigate these risks to ensure the health and well-being of both you and your baby.

For example  your provider may recommend taking low-dose aspirin to reduce your risk of a blood pressure disorder of pregnancy (it really works!!).

We have an on-demand workshop inside Sterling Parents that helps you create an individualized action plan to reduce your risk of complications in coordination with your OB provider.

Benefits of Being an Older Parent:

I would never leave you hanging with only discussing the risks of AMA – there are PLENTY of benefits as well. On a personal note I had a wonderful & healthy AMA pregnancy and love being an older mom. 

Some of my favorite benefits include (these are evidence based!): increased emotional and financial stability of parents, stronger language development in children, and improved health & development outcomes in children up to age five.

Impact of Stress:

Stress during pregnancy is common (and normal!), especially as pregnant people undergo many significant physical and emotional changes. There is no such thing as a “stress-free pregnancy.” Because stress in pregnancy is associated with an increased risk of certain complications, the goal is to reduce stress as much as we can and process the inevitable stress to mitigate its impact on your pregnancy. 

Having a stressful day or consistent low levels of stress are considered “normal” and unlikely to cause any harm. However, ongoing stress does have the potential for long-term health effects and pregnancy complications for both mother and baby. 

Stress in pregnancy is associated with high blood pressure, preterm birth, low birth weight, and may even affect a child’s long-term health (see a pattern here with some of the stress related pregnancy outcomes, mimicking the outcomes of AMA?) 

The good news is while some stressors may be unavoidable, there are evidence-based ways mitigate the impact of unavoidable stress in life and to reduce unnecessary stress. Regular exercise, human touch, time in nature and mindfulness (psst…there’s an entire mindfulness course inside Sterling Parents!), can all help alleviate the impact of stress on your body. 

If you’re experiencing stress, Sterling Parents is here to help. Sterling Parents is a membership specifically designed to alleviate pregnancy-specific stress, helping you navigate pregnancy, prepare for birth and get ready for baby with ease and confidence.

Interested in learning more about how to reduce the risks of AMA & increase the benefits? Check out Sterling Parents today! As part of our special AMA offer, you will receive full membership access to Sterling Parents (including all courses, resources, community events, and 1:1 direct messaging access to me) along with the following AMA specific bonus materials.

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