How to have a healthy pregnancy if you’re an older woman

Woman looking at baby scan

Our healthcare professionals answer your questions about pregnancy, birth and beyond. This time, Dr Katharina Schramm looks at pregnancy in older women

I turn 40 next month and I’ve just found out I’m eight weeks pregnant. I feel nervous, what advice would you give?

Firstly, congratulations! There’s certainly a growing trend in the UK for childbearing to occur at a later time in a woman’s life, and it’s important to stress that the majority of pregnancies will result in a healthy baby. However, adverse pregnancy outcomes may rise with age, and women over the age of 40 are considered to be at a higher risk of complications.

In general, mums between the ages of 35 to 45 are advised to be as vigilant as possible. The general advice available in pregnancy should therefore be carefully followed.

READ MORE: Time to talk – the Harmony test

Pay attention to eating well, take the recommended supplements such as folic acid and vitamin D, continue to do light exercise and pelvic floor exercises, and regularly attend the scheduled appointments with your healthcare provider.

Consult your doctor or midwife if you are struggling with hypertension, are a little overweight or pre-diabetic.

There are also additional pregnancy services available to support and reassure you, including the Harmony test to exclude chromosomal conditions with greater certainty. Other additional tests include the chickenpox antibodies test, thyroid function test and the Group B Strep test.

Extra scans might include a dating scan, a wellness scan between 28 and 32 weeks, and a positioning scan towards 37 weeks to establish how your baby is lying. An assessment as to whether a caesarean section is required is also advised.

Dr Katharina Schramm, consultant gynaecologist at Richmond Practice.

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