So your biological clock has been ticking and you're ready to consider taking the plunge into motherhood, or growing your family. If you’re over the age of 35, you may have heard some not-so-encouraging stories and terms used about pregnancy at an "advanced maternal age" (insert eye-roll at this term). While there is some increased risk as our age increases, rest assured, you and your body are nowhere near "geriatric". With a bit of planning and preparation, you can enjoy a healthy pregnancy no matter your age, and we at I Am Nurtured will be here to support you. Here are some tips for diving into a healthy pregnancy at age 35 and beyond.
Understand Your Risks:
While it’s true that pregnant women over age 35 are deemed higher risk than their younger counterparts, there is nothing magical about turning 35 that suddenly makes your eggs, womb, or pregnancy "geriatric". In fact, with proper care and attention before, during, and after, many women can enjoy a healthy pregnancy regardless of their age.
Just as at any age, it’s important to understand your risks and be aware of any potential pregnancy complications. Some risks do increase statistically once we start advancing in age from our mid-30s. These risks include an increased chance of gestational diabetes, preterm labor, and chromosomal abnormalities. However, if you work closely with your doctor or midwife throughout your pregnancy, these risks can be monitored and managed to ensure a healthy pregnancy and baby.
Start Taking Care of Yourself Now:
As soon as you decide to take the leap into parenthood, it’s important to start taking care of yourself right away. Start by eating well—make sure to get plenty of colorful fruits and vegetables, whole-food carbohydrates, healthy fats, and high-quality proteins in your diet. Exercise is also key; even if it’s just 10 minutes each day, commit to moving your body in whatever way works best for you. Don’t forget to rest and recover — aim for 7-8 hours of sleep each night if possible!
Getting pregnant is an exciting time, and a bit of planning and preparation can go a long way to ensure lasting health and vitality through pregnancy after 35. One of the most important steps to take before you become pregnant is to start taking a high-quality prenatal vitamin several months in advance. A high-quality prenatal vitamin helps ensure your body has adequate stores of essential vitamins and minerals like folate, choline, magnesium, Vitamin D, iron, zinc, and more before the critical first trimester of baby's growth and development begins.
Of note, recent research has found that women of late gestational age who increase their intake of Vitamin D are more likely to conceive and carry a healthy pregnancy to full term. A safe and effective daily dose of Vitamin D during pregnancy is around 4,000 IU. As always, check with your doctor before starting any new supplements.
The key nutrients listed above (and more below) play an important role in the development of your baby’s brain, spinal cord, and other organs. Prenatal vitamins can help reduce the risk of certain conditions such as neural tube defects or cleft lip. A good comprehensive prenatal vitamin will provide all these benefits without any unnecessary additives or fillers—so look at those nutrition labels, ask for a more knowledgeable health practitioner for help if you need it, and make sure you choose one that meets the highest standards!
Omega-3 EPA & DHA
Not just any old fish oil will do. Omega-3 EPA and DHA are essential fatty acids that have a variety of important health benefits, particularly for pregnant women over 35. Research has found that Omega-3 EPA and DHA can reduce the risk of preterm delivery, low birth weight babies, and even neural tube defects. It can also reduce inflammation following birth, and improve wound healing and heart health, which is especially beneficial for women who are expecting later in life.
Additionally, adequate intake of EPA & DHA is shown to reduce the likelihood of developing postpartum depression and anxiety (more common in mothers over the age of 35), and have a positive effect on cognitive function, helping boost memory and concentration. So long mom brain!
To get the most benefit out of Omega-3 EPA and DHA, look for a supplement that contains at least 500 mg of EPA and DHA combined per serving. It is best to take an Omega-3 supplement that is sold or packaged separate from your prenatal vitamin. Omega-3s can be damaged (oxidize) and degrade with exposure to light, heat, and air. Omega-3s packaged separately from prenatal vitamins are less likely to degrade and more likely to retain their beneficial properties. We're sorry to say those pills and gummies that offer a prenatal and Omega-3s all-in-one are not the high-quality products we recommend.
Bolster Your Egg Quality
As women age, their egg quality can decline significantly. This is why it is important for women of all ages to take additional steps to ensure they are doing everything possible to support their reproductive health and maintain the highest egg quality possible.
When it comes to improving egg quality, certain nutrients and botanicals can be essential for reproductive health. Folate, choline, magnesium, Vitamin D, iron, zinc, and omega-3 fatty acids are all important for maintaining healthy reproductive function throughout life.
Antioxidants such as vitamin C and E can help reduce oxidative stress that can lead to poor egg quality. Herbal supplements like maca root powder or red raspberry leaf tea may also provide additional fertility benefits due to their high antioxidant content.
PQQ is an antioxidant that has been shown to help improve egg quality in women. Studies have found that PQQ can reduce oxidative stress, which can lead to poor egg quality, and may also help boost fertility by increasing the number of healthy eggs produced. It has been suggested that PQQ helps with fertility due to its ability to protect cells from environmental toxins and free radical damage, as well as its potential role in DNA repair. Additionally, PQQ has been linked with improved mitochondrial function and better overall reproductive health in both men and women. For these reasons, many experts recommend taking a supplement containing PQQ if you are looking to improve your chances of conceiving or maintaining optimal reproductive health throughout life.
Acetyl L-carnitine is another antioxidant that has been shown to help improve egg quality in women. It works by helping the body convert fat into energy, which can help reduce oxidative stress and support healthy reproductive function. Acetyl L-carnitine also helps boost fertility by improving mitochondrial health and DNA repair, while protecting cells from environmental toxins and free radical damage.
Additionally, it has been linked with improved sperm production in men, making it beneficial for couples trying to conceive. For these reasons, many experts recommend taking acetyl L-carnitine if you are looking to improve your chances of conceiving or maintaining optimal reproductive health throughout life.
Consider Your Environment
While we are on the topic of inputs into our system, it is important to consider environmental toxins (the ones you can't see) that could be impacting your fertility. Toxic chemicals in our environment can have a negative effect on hormone levels, egg quality, and sperm health, which can lead to potential difficulty conceiving or complications during pregnancy.
From phthalates found in plastics, to fragrances used in personal care products, to BPA, air pollution, pesticides on our lawns, and non-organic foods, heavy metals, and many others, environmental toxins are all around us every single day and may impact fertility more than we realize. It is important for those trying to conceive at any age, and especially after age 35 to take extra precautions when it comes to environmental toxin exposure to have the best odds of a healthy pregnancy.
Prevention Is The Best Medicine
Many women are turning to nutrient and genetic testing to help ensure the health of their body prior to pregnancy. Nutrient testing can provide insight into whether a woman has adequate levels of essential vitamins and minerals that are necessary for the development of her baby’s organs. Genetic testing can identify potential problems in the parents' genes that could be passed on to baby and to look out for in the pregnancy. These tests allow pregnant women over 35 to take proactive measures when it comes to their baby's health, giving them peace of mind. Ask your doctor about these tests if you're interested in ruling out any preventable issues before conceiving.
Find Your Support System
Having a strong support system is crucial when becoming pregnant at any age. Friends or family members with similar experiences can offer valuable advice from their own perspectives. A trusted healthcare provider can answer all of your questions along the way. Having someone there for emotional and physical support can make all the difference throughout this journey. Don't be afraid to ask for help! At I Am Nurtured we understand that age is just a number and we're here to support you every step of the way.
Being pregnant after 35 doesn't need to be worrisome - with a bit of planning and preparation beforehand (and lots of love afterwards), you can still have a healthy pregnancy experience no matter what age you are!
So take some time now to understand your risks, start taking care of yourself early on in this process, and find support from those around you who will help guide and cheer for you every step of the way.