Risks And Benefits Of Geriatric Pregnancy: What You Need To Know

March 26, 2024

When you hear the word geriatric, what do you think of? Do you picture a little lady with a walker and sunglasses on or a gray haired man walking with a cane?

That’s what comes to mind for me. But did you know once you turn 35 years old and are pregnant, they deem you as part of the advanced maternal age, aka geriatric.

Now it’s no secret that as something ages, with the exception of wine, it loses its value, its potency, etcetera. Right? So, yes, as a female, you have less and less eggs available to be fertilized, and the ones that you do have may not be as healthy as those that you had, say, when you were 20 years old, which is why it may be more difficult to become pregnant, although not impossible, as I am living proof of that.

Advanced Maternal Age and Pregnancy

And certain conditions like miscarriage, genetic disorders, and pregnancy complications like preeclampsia, high blood pressure, and gestational diabetes? Yes. Can they have higher rates? 100%. But when it comes to those certain conditions, I can speak to 2 because I’ve had experience with them.

One being that I developed HELLP syndrome, which is the worst form of preeclampsia in my 37th week of my first pregnancy. And now, because of that, in this pregnancy, I’m considered high risk.

And, also, we had a bit of a scare in this pregnancy when it came to the chromosomal condition Down syndrome. And, like I said, you’re born as a female with a certain number of eggs.

Side note. I’ve always thought this was pretty wild that as a mother, when you’re carrying a daughter, you’re actually carrying your future grandchildren. I know weird, but, you know, should those children choose to have kids of their own, like, you are carrying your future grandchildren. Literally, 3 generations all in one place.

Okay, back to what I was saying. So you release an egg at ovulation each menstrual menstrual cycle. Right? And then and some people do this sometimes they’ll release 2, which is how you get twins sometimes.

But, consequently, as you get older, you’re obviously gonna have fewer eggs left in the till, so to speak. And the eggs that you do have are more likely to have these chromosomal issues. Although, yes, 100%, it can happen at earlier ages as well.

Genetic Testing and Screening During Pregnancy

You know, any of these genetic disorders can happen, but they do tend to happen more often if you wait later to have a child. So with my first pregnancy, I had 2 tests done to test for these genetic disorders. Not because it would have changed my decision by any means on whether I would have the baby or not.

Noninvasive prenatal testing (NIPT) for Down syndrome, Edwards syndrome, and Patel syndrome

As you probably know by now, I am pro life. But I wanted to know beforehand because I wanted to prepare ahead of time to make sure that I could set my child up for the best care possible. In both my first pregnancy and in my current pregnancy, I had what is called the NIP test, which stands for noninvasive prenatal testing. It’s a screening test that’s offered during pregnancy to see if the baby is at risk for having Down syndrome, Edwards syndrome, and Patel syndrome, which is trisomy 21, 18, and 13, respectively. I promise this will not be, like, a big medical jargon episode, but bear with me.

And when you take this test, you can also find out the sex of the baby. It’s a blood test, which feels like a gazillion vials, by the way. I think you take, like, 8 or 9.

So please make sure you’re super hydrated beforehand so the blood’s a little thinner and doesn’t bubble. It’ll come out easily. And it contains fragments of DNA from the baby.

The NIPT, it can’t screen for all chromosomal or genetic conditions, but it does for the ones that I listed, it does have a 99.9% accuracy. So there’s that.

And those are the 3 that people are typically wanting to know. Right?

Nuchal translucency test and quad screen for measuring risk of chromosomal abnormalities

And in addition to that NIPT test in my first pregnancy, I also had a specific sonogram done. It was a nuchal translucency test, which measures a small clear space at the back of the growing baby’s neck, which is called the nuchal fold.

And the reason why they do this is because experts have found that in that spot in particular, if there happens to be some kind of chromosomal abnormality, the fluid will accumulate there. Now I didn’t have this particular sonogram done in my current pregnancy and instead had another blood test done, which is called a quad screen.

So the quad screen measures the level of 4, hence the quad, substances in your blood. AFP, so alpha fetoprotein, HCG, which I’m sure you’ve heard of before, human chorionic gonadotropin. See, like I said, I’m not gonna go crazy with these.

And Estriol, which is a form of estrogen, and Inhibin A. So those are your 4.

Importance of Detailed Sonograms and Anatomy Scans In Geriatric Pregnancy

Okay. You’re like, why are these details important? And why are you throwing all these medical terms at me? So in my first pregnancy, I did those first two tests that I talked about, which were both a blood test and a sonogram.

But this one, I had 2 blood tests. And in my first pregnancy, they both came back negative, so we had no worries at all. But the reality is when they don’t come back normal, you do get worried. You know that your life is going to present future challenges, possibly.

Prenatal Genetic Testing Awareness:

“Not because it would have changed my decision by any means on whether I would have the baby or not. As you probably know by now, I am pro life. But I wanted to know beforehand because I wanted to prepare ahead of time to make sure that I could set my child up for the best care possible.”

And it doesn’t mean that you won’t be able to handle them, but it also doesn’t erase the fact that life could possibly look different than you expected. And in this pregnancy, I had the NIP test came back negative, but the quad screen came back saying I had a 1 in 95 chance of having a baby with Down’s.

And let me tell you, the week between finding out this news and until I had my anatomy scan was probably one of the most worrisome yet. I dove back into my research.

I spoke to friends of mine who do have children with downs, just kinda figuring out, like, what their testing was like, the results, etcetera.

And then, of course, per usual, I leaned heavily on prayer. I’m grateful to tell you that the scan came back perfect, and there were no markers for any of those chromosomal issues.

But I also recommend that whether or not you have any of these tests come back with even that 99.9% certainty of being negative, that you should still have what would be considered a high risk anatomy scan.

So the OB who, like, read through my scan so I have a midwife. I don’t go to typical standard, you know, Western care. But for this particular test, she outsourced me to one that she trusts, and they go into high detail images of the baby’s heart, brain, and other organ development.

And she does this for her moms whether they are considered high risk or not. Like, this is part of her standard care and what she does in her sonograms.

So the reason why that’s important is because while you may be clear of these genetic DNA chromosomal conditions, right, that you tested for, you wanna be 100% certain that there are no underlying issues with the organs.

You know, just because your baby doesn’t have Downs doesn’t mean there can’t be something going on in the heart. Right? That could wind your baby up in the NICU for 4 months.

Free Healthy Pregnancy Guide

✔ Must Read Book List
✔ Anti D & Vaccines Explained
✔ Must Have Supplements, Lotions & Vitamins
✔ What to Bring to the Hospital List
✔ Know Your Birthing Preferences Checklist
✔ My Favorite Apps

Maren posing with hand on her pregnant belly

So it’s very important to make sure that you have these very, very detail oriented sonograms.

Benefits of Having Children Later in Life

So at this point, I probably scared you into having a baby before you’re 30. Please don’t be frightened.

Because I truly believe there are many benefits of having a child later in life that outweigh the risks that I just told you about. And the fact of the matter is, regardless of your age, you need to be taking care of your body to ensure a safe and healthy pregnancy, plus labor and delivery, postpartum, etcetera.

Your age alone does not, I repeat, does not make you immune to problems. You must be eating healthy and clean.

You must be sleeping properly, not drinking to excess, no smoking, no drugs, and, of course, moving your body. It literally doesn’t matter if you’re 25, 30, or over 40, whatever.

Like, you need to be taking care of yourself. And as a geriatric mom, it’s funny to say that right, I can tell you that I don’t have any regrets with having my babies later in life.

First of all, God always has a plan. But, also, my husband and I got to do a lot of things together before having children. He and I have been together for, gosh, 17 years at this point. We’ve been married for the last 8 over 8 years, 8 years, and our daughter just turned 2.

So we were married. Forget even, like, just dating and and engaged and all that. We were married for 6 years before we had our first child.

And I believe that that is very important because both marriage and children have a way of forcing you to grow up and mature. But, honestly, I can’t imagine the pressure or having to do, like, both of those things simultaneously. Like, growing with your spouse and then growing up as a person by becoming mom. That is very overwhelming to me.

And my husband is my forever best friend and partner.

And while my little mini me is also my best friend, the reality is she’s gonna grow up and one day have her own life and family as well my second child. Kids leave. Right?

This is especially true if you have a son. And you and I both know that you’ve we’ve both. Right? Like, we’ve seen this over and over again, which is why, full transparency, I was so grateful when my little girl came to her side. I did, like, this little internal fist bump because I know the bond between a mother and daughter. I experience it. I see it, you know, with family.

I see it with friends. Right? And it’s not to say boys can’t be close to their moms. Like, relax if you’re a boy mom. Of course, they can. But the reality is that the female bond relationship is ultimately replaced by their wife. It’s natural. It’s what should happen. And, honestly, ain’t nobody trying to marry a mama’s boy out here.

So establishing that bond and relationship over time without having children is so important. When you have kids, it’s very easy to make them the focus when the center of every family should be the marriage.

Benefits of having time to grow up as a person and as a couple before becoming parents

It’s what grounds everyone. You know, your kids learn what a strong and healthy marriage is so that they can one day emulate it, and you need that bond because, ultimately, in the end, it will just be you and your spouse together because the kids will be off doing their own thing.

And time with your spouse before children allows you to travel and have experiences together that may not happen when you have kids.

It’s not to say, okay, that you won’t ever have, you know, these experiences or travel when you have kids. Right? Because I know a lot of people worry about that.

I know I did. Right? I was like, oh my gosh. I’m gonna be, like, trapped in my house for the rest of my life. No. That’s a falsehood. But and and we’ve certainly proved that to be a falsehood because we’ve taken our little one everywhere.

She’s been from the Keys to Maine and back multiple times, but it looks different, period. K? The trip with my husband before having our daughter looked like traveling to Europe and playing golf all over Ireland.

Or, like, I’m literally looking at a photo of us standing in front of the Eiffel Tower together, where on a whim, we decided to go to the Ryder Cup, literally.

I don’t even think it was 2 weeks before the event. We got free tickets. We found amazing flights and then Airbnb, and we were there for, like, four and a half days, saw the entire city, ate every croissant, and had, you know, champagne, yada yada, and flew back home. Like, we it was just boom boom boom. Right?

Or, you know, it could be sleeping in after a long day of exploring Hawaii and indulging in the best tuna poke and mai tais. Right? I promise you there’s no sleeping in when you have a child and when you’re traveling with them. It just doesn’t happen.

You’re getting poked and saying, mommy, mommy. And I know that excuse me. All of that can seem frivolous.

Financial Stability and Emotional Readiness for Parenthood

The trips, eating at fancy restaurants, all that. Right? But making sure you’re financially secure with your home and your career is, in my opinion, essential before having children. Essential.

And while I don’t believe that having kids means you have to spend boatloads of money on toys, especially since they’re just as happy playing with your plastic Tupperware and your cabinets. K? Or even clothes because they grow out of them what feels like overnight.

Thank God for Target’s return policy. You do wanna make sure they have a safe home to grow up in that is a place that you are not worried about paying the bills for.

And while you don’t have to give them all the fancy clothes and toys, you do need money to physically have them. So whether you’re paying out of pocket to, say, have a home birth with a midwife, I mean, that’s gonna cost you 8 to $10K right there.  That’s not including if you wanna have a doula or whatever. Right? That’s your standard price.

Or say you do go into a hospital, you’re gonna, a, you or your spouse are gonna need insurance, because out of pocket, that’s gonna cost you $30K or more, depending on whether or not you have a vaginal birth versus c section. I mean, c section is gonna be even more money, right, because it’s surgery.

But regardless, out of pocket, you’re still gonna have to drop that kind of coin because you have a deductible. Right? And money is the number one stressor for people. It literally kills marriages every single day.

The fact is people are waiting longer to get married these days. So the average age for men is 30.5 and 28.6 for women. This is a 6 to 7 year increase in age in the last century. And a lot of this has to do with people coming out of college with immense debt and taking a long time to get established in their career, paying off bills after college, that’s just a topic for another day.

I’m not talking about college and whether it’s important or not, because I have my own feelings on that. And that is coming from someone who has multiple degrees. It’s a trap. But anyway, like I said, I digress.

The point of all this is to say that children change your lives.

I encourage you to pursue a healthy pregnancy and baby, with self-care and faith

They’re the best and the biggest blessing. And coming from someone who thought she would never be a mom, okay, I never thought I was gonna be a mom for many different reasons. I encourage you to have them, because your life really does get better.

You hear people say that and you’re like, yeah. Yeah. Okay, Linda. But it’s the truth. It’s very hard to believe that it could get better, right, especially when you have the life that you’ve built and the home that you’re in and the experiences you have. How could this possibly get better? But it does. Is it hard? Oh my gosh. Yes.

A 100%. But it’s the most rewarding thing you’ll ever do. And if you have that bond with your spouse prior to having children, that life between the 2 of you will get even better as well.

So I encourage you, please do not feel like a failure if your quote, unquote, clock is ticking.

Embracing Parenthood Later in Life

“I’m living proof that you can have a healthy pregnancy and baby even as a geriatric mom with the caveat of as long as you’re taking care of yourself. You need to eliminate the stress, hence, having the established career and finances, eating clean, moving your body daily, getting the proper rest. You need to be doing those things, though. And there is hope for you, and God’s got you.”

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this episode. So please, as always, feel free to reach out to me on Instagram to continue the conversation.

If you wanna get more of this type of content, make sure you follow me on Instagram at @macrowley. And if you love this episode, let me know by tagging me on IG or even leaving a podcast review. See you next week.

Free Healthy Pregnancy Guide

✔ Must Read Book List
✔ Anti D & Vaccines Explained
✔ Must Have Supplements, Lotions & Vitamins
✔ What to Bring to the Hospital List
✔ Know Your Birthing Preferences Checklist
✔ My Favorite Apps

Maren posing with hand on her pregnant belly

If you wanna get more of this type of content, make sure you follow me on Instagram at @macrowley. And if you love this episode, let me know by tagging me on IG or even leaving a podcast review. See you next week.

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