Planning pregnancy after 30? Here’s a simple checklist to guide you
I’m assuming you’re either around or above 30, if this post drew you here. So here’s a warm welcome, buddy! If you’re planning your pregnancy after 30, you surely know that you’re not alone. Having your first baby after 30 is quite the norm now (and I’m not talking about celebrity moms here!)
Most pregnancies in 30’s that we’ve come across, either in our friends’ circle or familial acquaintances, seem extremely normal and uncomplicated. Pretty further, if you have been putting off plans of starting a family, these often strengthen the idea behind that. Don’t they?
However, you may be contravened by a lot of judgement and facts around the biological clock AKA the fertility clock, in terms of your scope of pregnancy after 30. Yes, pregnancy in one’s 30’s is becoming the norm. But is that all you need to know from a completely neutral perspective?
Why Pregnancy after 30 is becoming a norm?
It’s interesting to note that according to a study, Indian women are more susceptible to ‘ageing’ ovaries as compared to Caucasian women. While pregnancy in 30’s, as a phenomenon, picked up quite earlier in the European and American countries, more women in India are now reclining over the idea of having children after 30. More so, this choice falls back predominantly on the following factors:
- Education & higher studies,
- Career goals,
- Giving time to one’s relationship,
- Travel wishlist,
- Investments or financial priorities,
or any reason that’s closely personal, and subjectively justified. Whether it’s something that pertains to either you alone, or the both of you as a couple.
Deciphering the Biological (Fertility) Clock
Here’s what Dr. Vinay Kamat, Obstretician & Gynecologist, shares with us with regards to pregnancy after 30.
With the kind of fast-paced and a more self-motivated life we’re all living today, a woman’s choice of ticking her checklist of professional and personal aspirations in desired sync with bringing her baby to the world, is reasonably natural. In fact, career is most likely to take a beating at the hands of untimely motherhood.
Having said that, today, the prime foundation of education and career can’t be constructed during the ‘physiologically ideal age’ for motherhood, which is from, say, age 25 to 30.
Dr. Kamat shares with us some really significant insights about the rather hackneyed role of age in determining a woman’s:
With age, the quality of a woman’s ova (eggs) decreases as their number also dips progressively. Hence, a woman in the advanced age (which is, above 35), is likely to find it harder to get pregnant within a year of regular attempts, or even sustain her pregnancy successfully till birth.
After 35, mothers are prone to antenatal complications such as the risks of high blood pressure, that can potentially lead to Eclampsia. In addition, the chances of developing gestational diabetes are high for the advanced age brackets.
While the need to put off family-planning till 30 is completely viable, chromosomal anomalies are something that couples planning to conceive after 30 need to educate themselves about.
For instance, there’s always a slightly higher risk of conceiving a foetus with Down’s syndrome as shown in the below diagram with advancing maternal age. The risk rises exponentially beyond the maternal age of 35.
However, science is equally advanced now with various diagnostic techniques to accurately detect such chromosomal anomalies after conception. One of such prenatal diagnostic techniques, is the NT scan.
Does Lifestyle control the pulse of pregnancy after 30?
“Your Genetics loads the Gun, your Lifestyle pulls the Trigger.”Caldwell Esselstyn
So, what constitutes your lifestyle?
To be honest, ‘lifestyle’ is classically a very broad term that could cover anything basis what an individual wants to include as a part of his/her life. It could be the way one eats, dresses, works, sleeps or even parties!
Nevertheless, when it narrows down to the context of health, lifestyle is the cumulative reflection of a person’s physical, mental & environmental wellness and responsiveness.
So, should you give lifestyle the benefit of doubt when it comes to planning pregnancy after 30?
Dr. Mrudula Suryawanshi, physiotherapist & certified Yoga trainer, explains which factors a woman could liken her chances of having a completely healthy pregnancy in her 30’s, whether it’s her first or second.
She also insists that once you decide to try to get pregnant, you prepare your body for it months in advance. Because, pregnancy success does not mean the success of conception only. A fairly successful pregnancy would imply:
- Stress-free gestation period (without many medical complications)
- Healthy Fetus
- Sound emotional well-being
- Successful birth (regardless of the method of birth)
- Baby with a healthy birth weight
- Post-partum health of the mother (including her mental health, healing & physical stamina)
Suryawanshi heavily emphasizes the role of lifestyle behind the fertility of a woman in correlation with one’s genetics & biological age. And she very much endorses the aforementioned quote of Caldwell Esselstyn.
She highlights that a woman’s fertility after 30 vastly corresponds to the kind of lifestyle she has been pulling off for a long time. Although one ages biologically, aspects like nutrition and exposure to a certain lifestyle can normalize or decelerate a woman’s fertility even after 30. So, pregnancy after 30 need not essentially be a questionable point.
Based on how our routine and environment control our lifestyle, Dr. Suryawanshi untangles lifestyle as something that is largely influenced by the following aspects:
A lot of our regular habits and their timings affect our lifestyle directly. This could be something as basic as our sleep routine. A large part of today’s population, specially in the urban lot, is either sleep-deprived or has an erratic sleep routine. A lot of us today (irrespective of gender) are working up late, binge-watching shows till dawn. Or we just do not find it easy to sleep either due to using our phones in bed or being driven by caffeine.
As per studies, Sleep-deprivation or a disturbed sleep pattern can potentially affect one’s fertility, whether it’s a man or a woman. While there are enough studies to support how sleep can impact a man’s sperm count, there’s substantial research to draw a relation between a woman’s sleep schedule and her fertility.
A woman’s sleep pattern largely affects her hormonal framework, which can alter her chances of conceiving naturally without any challenges. With prolonged mistakes of sleeping pattern, a woman’s ovulation process can get disrupted, or the release of cycle-appropriate hormones may be disturbed.
Well, sleep is just one facet that impacts hormonal health.
Your gut health is constituted by your NUTRITION.
Basically, you need to ensure that you maintain a decent nutritional balance with your body, with whatever you make of with your food source or cooking.
If you’re dependent on a big share of junk food in your diet, or are deficient on some nutrition element such as Iron, Vitamins or protein, it may be something you need to re-evaluate and act upon if you’re trying to get pregnant, whatever you age be. It is always preferred that you include probiotic foods in your diet that enrich your gut health, prevent inflammation and keep your immunity high.
Hence, you need to cut down on processed foods from your diet and include more natural elements regularly like local fruits & vegetables.
Please cut down on sugar. Persistently high blood sugar levels can hamper your conception scope & even chances of having a healthy pregnancy and baby. Too much sugar in the diet often contributes to lower abdominal fat that somehow interferes with your fertility. So, slash the intake of refined sugar & simple carbs. In the meanwhile, never resort to fad diets or starvation or any diet that you cannot continue for all your life.
If you’re planning a pregnancy, I’d always suggest you to catch up with your gynecologist to assess your fertility along with that of your partner.
Your gyn would be the best person to help you gauge your hormonal & nutrition standpoints before you start attempting conception. This may involve the assessment around your:
- Thyroid profile
- Blood tests
- Pelvic scan
Accordingly, your doc can advise you to supplement your diet with multivitamins, folic acid or something else if you’re deficient on it. Or you may be instructed to lose or gain some body weight. Your pelvic scan can guide you along how feasible it will be for you & your partner to conceive normally.
Now this one largely depends on how active you have been in the recent past. No, you need not be an athlete or a gymnast to make conception feel like a breeze!
A sedentary lifestyle poses a certain threat to your body that can put your fertility in the backseat.
So, irrespective of what you were doing so far, please GET UP & MOVE in some way, every day.
If you’ve not being exercising till now, don’t worry. Prepare yourself at least a few months before trying to get pregnant.
Start with easy workouts like walking, running, swimming or cycling; whichever works for you without making it feel like a chore. Getting up & making a move itself is victory there! Then it becomes a habit that you will never want to leave behind.
Besides, here are some things that one cannot ignore when it comes to contemplating a healthy pregnancy & hassle-free post-partum health:
- Core Breathing exercises: Try to learn some core-breathing exercises, which will help you relax yourself better during the later months of pregnancy and birth.
- Body-balancing: This primarily involves correcting wrong postures while sitting, standing, walking, sleeping and doing some physical task, in order to posture complications that can arise during pregnancy & culminate in life-long postural problems.
- Strength-Training: Strength-training for women has benefits beyond the reproductive age. In fact, it’s a must for all women that they take to body-weight exercises & other forms of weight-training that strengthens their bone & mass health preventing muscle & bone degeneration with age. This boosts your fitness in ways you cannot imagine. In simple words, it strength training regularly can relatively slow down your physical ageing & keep your core in good state.
When to worry?
If you’re above 30 & for any reason you realize that conceiving in a year of regular unprotected sex, is getting difficult, check with your gynecologist.
And if you’re over the age of 35, it’s recommended to seek help after failing to conceive in 6 months of unprotected sex during your fertile window.
At the same time, striving for a regular menstruation cycle will be what your gynecologist will guiding you along, either through medication or lifestyle changes.
How can Science further help you at better chances of conception after 30?
It’s likely that you’ve heard of EGG-FREEZING. Haven’t you? Here’s what Dr. Kamat tells us about it.
What’s Oocyte Cryo-preservation?
This is a method of preserving a woman’s ovum/ova for later use in conception.
This cryo-preservation, or ‘freezing’ is primarily intended at helping women diagnosed with cancer, the therapy of which involves either the irradiation of ovaries or even their removal.
So, although this technology can be potentially mis-used, it is technically possible for women planning late pregnancy to somewhat rely on it. This is based on the evident trend of decreasing quantity of healthy eggs a woman can conceive from, with her age. From the aforementioned observation & citation, we can safely assume that the younger a woman is, the better quality of oocytes she has with her that can be fertilized to produce a healthy embryo.
Say, if you freeze your eggs at 26 years of age & decide to have your baby at 34, the state of your egg to be considered for fertilization will be the same as that when you were 26 years old. Hence, the quality & fertility of your egg(s) can be preserved. Failure to conceive, through this method, will ensure that it’s not due to the quality of your eggs. So, when you decide to have a baby of your own, you may very well continue with the fertilized ovum in your womb till birth.
Nonetheless, one needs to be aware of the side-effects of eggs-freezing too.
This requires surgical intervention to pick up the ovum. After this, insemination following IVF (In-Vitro Fertilization) for future conception,
both of which carry their own risks.
Since striving for a balanced career and personal life should not be ignored, it is medically recommended to plan your pregnancy between the optimum age bracket of 30 to 35.
Take care of your lifestyle, BMI, activity levels, sleep & diet. This goes a long way in helping you towards a great & happy pregnancy & post-partum wellness & FOR LIFE! 🙂
I heartily thank Dr. Vinay Kamat & Dr. Mrudula Suryawanshi for shedding the much needed light on this very relevant question.
Good luck & best wishes, my friend! And do share the post with someone who may need to read this.
DR. VINAY V. KAMAT, MD (Bom) DGO (CPS), is a renowned Obstretician & Gynecologist, based in Goa with decades of extended expertise in obstretics & gynecology.
DR. MRUDULA SURYAWANSHI, is a Physiotherapist, MSc (Sport injury management & therapy, U.K.) with emphasis on women’s health & fitness. She’s also a certified Yoga trainer. Her Instagram page is a treasure trove of exercises that every woman must do.
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