20s, 30s, 40s...What's an ideal pregnancy age?
Is there any right time to start a family? Most experts say 'no'. We say there are pros and cons. Read on to know about the ideal pregnancy age
In the era of age-defying products and treatments, there is one thing which is bound by it, and that is the human reproductive system. Nevertheless, pregnancy in general is planned around certain things. The obvious ones are health, finance and an established career.
However, with time, there seems to have been quite a few additions to the list. Women, now, are looking beyond this. Issues as basic as getting married to the right man have started garnering her attention. And once married, factors such as ‘living up to the bucket list’ are ruling the roost.
Needless to say, all the factors combined have pushed up the ideal pregnancy age, especially in urban India. Thirties have become the new twenties. Gone are the days when getting married at 22 and pregnant at 24 was the rage. Couples today want to take it easy before planning a family. They want to settle down first, travel extensively and boast of a certain amount of success before taking the family route.
However, experts warn of the trend. “Thirty-five is the cut off for women,” claims Dr Shivani Sachdev-Gour, gynaecologist and director at SCI Healthcare, Delhi. Women are born with a certain number of eggs and they lose them over their reproductive life span. “At some point—about 10 years before the onset of menopause—the number drops to a level where fertility is compromised,” informs Dr Duru Shah, gynaecologist-obstetrician and chairman at Gynaecworld, Mumbai.
Although men are physically capable of fathering children even in their 60s, sperm quality deteriorates with age and there’s a higher risk of genetic defects. “Hence, for a 35-year-old pregnant woman, the chances of her child being born with Down Syndrome is one in 350, for a 40-year-old, it is one in 110 and for a 45-year-old woman it is one in 30,” reveals Dr Sachdev-Gour.
“In India, women hit menopause at the age of 47. Ten years prior to it—at 37—the best of eggs are released. That is why at a later age, especially after 40, the chances of miscarriages and abnormalities in the babies increase,” adds Dr Shah.
However, only few people opt for pregnancies in their 40s. “Mainly because they are either too hesitant or follow moral values that make them feel uncomfortable,” explains Dr Gour.
Each stage poses its own set of physical and emotional pros and cons that may influence everything. Let’s study them in detail.
Continue reading to know what is an ideal pregnancy age.
Getting pregnant in 20s
“The 20s are the most fertile years in a woman’s life, which makes it an ideal time for pregnancy,” says Dr Shah. The periods are regular and most of them are ovulatory, which means an egg is produced every month.
What’s more, being in the 20s also gives you ample opportunity to have a healthy pregnancy as the energy levels are high. Even the risks involved are less.
“Psychologically also, it is the best time to have a baby,” adds Dr Shah. Getting pregnant in your 20s keeps you away from food-related stress. “In your twenties, your digestive system is the healthiest, which leaves food an open area for you. Anything taken in moderation and in consultation with your nutritionist can never go wrong for your body,” informs Dr Sachdev-Gour.
According to experts, 24 is an ideal age for a woman to endorse motherhood. So, if you have decided to give the rubber a skip, “there are 20 per cent chances of you getting pregnant every month,” informs Dr Shah.
However, 20s is also the time when women, especially in urban India, are often busy settling down with their careers. “Even the existence of nuclear families makes it difficult for women to opt for a child. Also, there are hardly any child care centres in India which thus makes a women all the more hesitant to go ahead and start a family,” says Dr Sachdev-Gour.
Continue reading to know if 30s is an ideal pregnancy age.
Getting pregnant in 30s
Planning a pregnancy in 30s has positives and negatives in an equal proportion. In your early 30s, your chances of getting pregnant are only slightly lower than in your late 20s. However, after 35, it decreases and the risk involved increases. “The reason for a decrease in the fertility level is because the body is unable to produce as many healthy eggs,” says Dr Shah.
Thirties comes with the word caution. So, once you set your mind on the target, you will have to take that extra mile. “Do away with all the lifestyle habits that you feel can be unhealthy for the baby. Eat right, sleep right and exercise right,” adds Dr Sachdev-Gour. Besides with age, gastric problems might set in, especially with women who are above 35. Also, the food that you eat can have a direct bearing on your blood pressure.
Also, planning pregnancy after 35 increases the chances of delivering twins or more. Explains Dr Sachdev-Gour, “After a certain age, irregularity in ovulation occurs which disturbs the eggs and their fertility factor. Many women who are unable to conceive naturally, approach fertility centres, where the treatments result in a higher probability of delivering twins or triplets.”
Continue reading to know if 40s an ideal pregnancy age.
Getting pregnant in 40s
Naturally, 40s is a tough age to get pregnant. “And, the chances all the more plunge once you hit the 45 button,” informs Dr Sachdev-Gour. So, if you are in your 40s and are planning a pregnancy, one of the options left with you is to go for In-vitro fertilisation. However, even if you opt for a treatment, it becomes a high risk zone, both for the baby and you.
Getting pregnant in your 40s can lead to increased rates of hypertension and pregnancy complications such as gestational diabetes mellitus and pre-eclampsia. Your infant can be born with certain chromosomal abnormalities, some of which can lead to mental retardation.
“Research has shown that one out of every 127 babies born to a mother above 40 and more had chromosomal disorders as compared to one out of 370 babies born to mothers between 35 and 39 years of age,” says Dr Shah. Even the risk of having a preterm birth (before the 37th week) is higher for older moms.
So, is 40s a ‘complete no’ zone? “’No’ is rarely an answer for us,” says Dr Sachdev-Gour, who caters to hundreds of patients seeking IVF treatments for late pregnancies. “A good and clear pre-pregnancy counselling can be a blessing for women who are planning a late pregnancy,” assures Dr Shah.
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