what are my chances of having a pregnancy over 35?
It's true that fertility decreases after your mid-thirties, but the odds are still quite good for many women. Around 95% of women over 35 will get pregnant within three years of trying. Even after 38, three quarters of women will conceive in the same timeframe.
Pregnancy in your 40s is a bit less common, but 40% of women are still able to get pregnant. Although it's normal to take longer to conceive when you're older, it's still worth seeing your GP if you haven't become pregnant after six months of trying. That way, they can make sure that there aren't any problems for you or your partner at an early stage.
are there any health risks for my baby?
It's more likely for some genetic conditions such as Down's Syndrome to occur when mums are older. After the age of 35, one in 270 mums have a baby with Down's Syndrome, compared to one in 800 at age 30.
You should be offered a scan when you're 11 to 14 weeks pregnant: if there's any reason to suspect your baby might have the condition, the doctor will offer further tests of the amniotic fluid in your womb or a little bit of the placenta. These can give a clearer picture of what to expect, although they also have a slight risk of miscarriage.
what are the main health risks for me?
High blood pressure is one of the biggest risks for older mums, so you should take it as easy as possible during your pregnancy.
Try to do all of your baby shopping during the second trimester so that you don't get stressed out wandering through crowds with a big bump. It's a good idea to put your feet up whenever you can, and to take as much of your maternity leave as possible before baby arrives.
For some older women, high blood pressure means pre-eclampsia is more likely – that's a problem with the blood supply to your baby that is risky for you both. Tests in pregnancy can pick this up, however: if you're likely to be affected, your doctor will ensure you're monitored carefully.
will giving birth be harder because i'm older?
Older mums are a bit more likely to have complications in delivery: about 15% of pregnant women over the age of 35 have an emergency caesarean section. It's not as scary as it might sound, though. The procedure takes less than an hour, and the scar is almost unnoticeable.
Try taking light exercise throughout your pregnancy and staying relaxed in the run-up to your due date to reduce the chances of needing an emergency C-section.
what are the benefits to being an older expectant mum?
You'll get extra attention from your doctor during your pregnancy, with a few more tests and antenatal appointments. So if any complications are going to crop up, you'll be prepared.
You're also likely to be more prepared to cope with your new baby, thanks to your life experience: there's research that suggests babies born to older mums do better at school and are more financially secure in adult life. Nice work, older mums.