Stop searching endless pregnancy forums for answers because our new #Talk2Mum platform is the place to be if you’re pregnant over 35 and need to calm frayed nerves.
From fertility to pregnancy, birth to parenting issues, our unique panel of expert mums over 35 have all “walked the talk” by having children later in life. Our ladies are here to reveal the truth, offer different views, expert advice, blog input, answer reader questions and even give you a virtual hug if you need it.
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REMEMBER that every pregnancy is different, no matter what age you are. If you need urgent support, take a look at our list of helpline numbers here.
#1. Saffi Yusef, PR Account Manager.
Founder of Of Saffron & Cyrus gave birth to her son at 40.
Professional bio: Against the odds and at the age of 40, Saffi Yusef conceived and gave birth to a healthy baby boy in 2016 without the aid of medical fertility treatments. She has since been drawn into the debate on parenting in midlife, paying close attention to the criticism and misconceptions regarding the latest trend in women having children after the age of 40.
Following an early career as a writer and sub editor during the Noughties in the UK, Saffi didn’t meet her Mr Right until age 30. She was strongly affected by the negativity in Cyberspace, medical labelling, emotional challenges and social stigma faced by older mums and decided to ‘weigh in’ on the controversy by launching a blog – Of Saffron & Cyrus – in January 2017.
Since then, she has networked and written extensively, interviewing other mums along the way and experts on key issues relating to being a mum in later life.
She has launched a #Talk2Mum Linky on Sunday evenings at 10pm on Twitter for women over 35 to interact and deal with emotions regarding everything ‘mum-related’.
For now, see some Q&A below based on Saffi’s experience to help empower mums to make informed decisions about their health.
Why are pregnancy complications higher as we age?
Women are born with all the eggs they will ever have. As a woman ages, her eggs age with her, diminishing in quantity and quality. Though most of older eggs continue ripening without incident, each passing year very slightly increases the risk of certain problems. For instance, while a 20-year-old mom-to-be has a one in 10,000 chance of delivering a baby with Down syndrome — a genetic condition caused by the presence of an extra copy of chromosomes — a 40-year-old’s odds are one in 100. Don’t be disheartened by this. I was 40 when I was pregnant with Cyrus and the results of my Combined Screening Test showed that my risk was estimated at lower than 1 in 10,906.
Why should I have prenatal testing?
While the odds of having a completely normal baby are still in your favour, prenatal testing can identify Down’s Syndrome and other chromosomal abnormalities. There’s no getting away from the fact that since we are older at 40, we are more susceptible to a variety of health issues, including high blood pressure and diabetes. This puts our older expectant bodies at a slightly bigger risk for pregnancy-related forms of preeclampsia and gestational diabetes. Testing means you get earlier, potentially more effective treatment if you need it. It also means you can make informed decisions about your health. I had tests for Down’s Syndrome and gestational diabetes. I felt better knowing the results, rather than leaving it to chance. I felt empowered knowing that while I was older, my blood pressure was low and I didn’t have gestational diabetes. I also took the midwife’s advice and started baby aspirin at 14 weeks to help lower the chances of getting preeclampsia in pregnancy. I didn’t get that or swollen ankles – so my advice is to take whatever is offered to you.
Will I face problems in labour because I’m older?
While preterm labour is more common in mums over 40, it can happen at any age. Fetal growth restriction, which occurs when blood flow to the fetus is reduced, is more common among older mums, but that’s because as a woman ages, her circulatory system becomes less robust. She may not deliver as much blood to the uterus and placenta. Rest assured though that you will undergo lots of growth scans to check for this throughout your pregnancy. There are a whole host of risks that we might face being of advanced maternal age. Longer labour, induction, higher chance of a C-section or assisted delivery (vacuum extraction or forceps). An older mum-to-be’s uterus doesn’t always contract adequately, but there is always induction if this happens. I was offered induction a week before my due date and while I initially refused, I made the decision to do it if I didn’t go into spontaneous labour before then. While I had a forceps delivery, it certainly wasn’t down to having poorer muscle tone or less flexible joints – it was because in the last 10 minutes of labour, Cyrus’s heart rate deteriorated and they had to get him out quick. I was offered a C-section but I said no and opted for a natural birth.
Do I have more chance of a miscarriage now that I’m older?
One in four pregnancies end in miscarriage and that is not an age-related fact. If the average miscarriage rate is 20 percent, the risk is closer to 25 percent for a woman in her 40s. Don’t get stressed about it, just take each day as it comes. Try not to focus on fears about your age too much. All you can do is start off your pregnancy in good shape and keep yourself in top form. Eat well, exercise regularly and get all the tests. Once you get to 12 weeks, the risk of miscarriage drops substantially. Even if you have a miscarriage, remember that a lot of women who have a miscarriage go on to have a healthy happy baby. This includes women with recurrent miscarriage. I’m a good example. A word of warning though: miscarriage can be psychologically traumatic, making it important to heal emotionally before becoming pregnant again. If you need help, contact The Miscarriage Association.
Can I still have a home birth?
It may sound more relaxing and natural than checking into the hospital, but the older you are, the higher your risk of potentially dangerous situations that need to be monitored carefully. If a home birth is extremely important to you, hammer out a detailed plan B with your midwife in case you run into any complications at go-time. My personal advice is to go down the hospital route. If I hadn’t been in hospital, Cyrus might not be here now.