The Fertility Files: Pros and Cons of Getting Pregnant in Your THIRTIES
Like so many of my generation, I spent 8 years in post-secondary education, 7 years building a career and many of those years avoiding pregnancy, as I wasn’t quite ready for kids. Add in those extra curve balls that life likes to throw at you to keep you on your toes (e.g. injuries, Zika scares, job changes) and poof … I’m 35 going on 36!
While the childbearing years aren’t remotely over by your mid-thirties, most women are aware that the biological clock is ticking. Not only is the desire to have children stronger, so too are the messages from society that the odds are stacked more precariously against you by the time you blow out the candles on your 35th birthday cake.
But just how greatly are the odds stacked against you? And are there any benefits to having children in your mid-thirties? Well, here is how I view the pros and cons of later motherhood — for myself and for my patients:
Women in their late 30s who have normal menstrual cycles, have a 25% chance of conceiving each month, which is about half the rate of women in their early 20s. 1 in 5 of these women will have difficulty conceiving. However, several large studies find that women in their late 30s have approximately a 70 – 80% chance of conceiving within a year of trying and about 90% will conceive within 2 years. So, while the odds are reduced, hope is not lost!
One in four pregnancies among women in this age group will end in miscarriage, and the risk of chromosomal abnormalities goes up exponentially, to 1 in 100 by age 38, due to aging eggs. While you can’t prevent such abnormalities, accurate prenatal screening and diagnostic tests do exist. Advances in understanding regarding how to improve egg quality naturally can also be of benefit, which we will discuss in upcoming articles.
YOUR MATURITY LEVEL
By far, I think this is perhaps the biggest pro to conception in the later years. You’ve had a chance to gain valuable life experience, travel, see new things and challenge yourself. So when you’re ready to start a family, you bring more resources. You know yourself better!
YOUR CAREER & FINANCES
Another huge advantage that comes in your 30s is stability of home, career and finances. You may have bought a house, begun saving money, carved out Pros and Cons of Getting Pregnant in Your THIRTIES a career niche and proven yourself in the workplace. However, these stressors may still be reality for many 30-somethings and will require attention to stress modulation.
More pros! There is a higher likelihood that you are partnered and have the emotional and physical support of that person. You’ve watched some of your friends raise their families and learned from their successes and mistakes. Your parents are also more likely to be retired or about to be retired, which means they might be freed up to help you. In addition, with more women delaying childbirth, you’ll benefit from a community of women who are figuring out older motherhood alongside you.
I am almost 36 years old. I am a naturopathic doctor who treats infertility. I am trying to have a baby. I am optimistic and realistic about my chances and choices and I want the same for you. Join me back here in The Fertility Files next month when we explore optimizing your health for conception and beyond.
DR.QUINN HAND, ND is a naturopathic doctor and natural health educator with clinical interest in women’s health, hormonal balance, fertility and sports medicine. qwellness.ca