Pregnancy in Your 20s, 30s, and 40s

Pregnancy in Your 30s

Andrea Pietronuto, 34

"I've been married for four years, but I wanted to delay pregnancy so that I could focus on my career as an actress. Then one of my cousins, who was just 36 and had two children, died suddenly, and that spurred me on to have a baby, because it made me realize how short life can be. Now my husband, Richard, and I both feel ready to take that next step. I've always been very active, and I've continued to work out during my pregnancy, which gives me tons of energy. I even take kickboxing classes (though I've had to modify some of the moves!)."

Your Body Now:

You're at higher risk of developing certain complications. But the majority of healthy women still have uneventful pregnancies at this age. Here are the facts.

  • Your risk of gestational diabetes and preeclampsia is higher now, as are the chances of having a baby with Down syndrome or other chromosomal abnormalities. "By age 35, the risk of chromosomal abnormalities is about 1 in 200, which is roughly the same risk as having a miscarriage from an amniocentesis," says Lorraine Chrisomalis, M.D., maternal fetal medicine specialist at Columbia-Presbyterian Eastside, in New York City. That's why many doctors only offer amniocentesis to women over 35.
  • If you used fertility treatments, you're more likely to have multiples than women who conceived naturally.
  • You're also more likely to have a C-section. Why? One theory: "When a woman is in her 20s, doctors tend to be more patient with a vaginal delivery and less inclined to do surgery," Dr. Bernstein says.

Your Mind Now:

Many women in their 30s feel more psychologically ready for motherhood. Consider this.

  • If it's your first baby, you've had time for yourself and your marriage, and you've accomplished some professional goals. This may give you peace of mind if you want to take a break to spend time with your baby.
  • You're likely to know other pregnant women, so finding a support system shouldn't be a problem.
  • Your marriage is probably on solid footing since you're older and more confident in yourself and in your relationship, points out Margaret Howard, Ph.D., a psychologist at Women and Infants Hospital, in Providence.

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