In the world of obstetrics, when a woman above the age of 35 is pregnant, she gets the really lovely title of elderly or advanced maternal age. Um, thanks?

Negative label aside, there are some really awesome things about becoming a mom in your late thirties and beyond. And there are specific things to know.

Here are 10 key things to consider about being pregnant at 35 or older.

1. (and also numbers 2. and 3. because it's THAT important).

The age at which you decide to have a baby is entirely up to you.

Your body. Your birth. Your baby. Your life.

The only person in the world who can determine if and when you should have a baby is you. Of course, consult with your medical team to discuss the specific details of your health and how it will impact your fertility and pregnancy. But ultimately, it's up to you.


The world is full of noise and opinions, especially when it comes women's bodies and pregnancy. Do the best you can to ignore the noise, and focus in on what you know is right for you.

4. Consider your fertility options

The older we get, the harder it can be to get pregnant. Women who are 35 and older are advised to try getting pregnant for six months before seeking fertility treatment, while women 40 and older are advised to talk to their doctors sooner, even within the first month of trying.

Keep in mind that you may not need any help getting pregnant at all. If you do, there are a ton of fertility options out there. Remember to be gentle with yourself as you go through the process.

5. Be aware of symptoms

Women above the age of 34 are at an increased risk of developing certain pregnancy complications, such as preeclampsia and gestational diabetes. You'll receive screening for these complications, but it's never a bad idea to be aware of them, and advocate for yourself should to you concerned.

Symptoms of preeclampsia include:

  • Headaches
  • Changes in vision
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Belly pain
  • Lightheadedness
  • Peeing less
  • Shortness of breath

Symptoms of gestational diabetes include:

  • Feeling very thirsty
  • Peeing a lot
  • Tiredness
  • Nausea
  • Blurred vision

Never be afraid to make an extra appointment, or head to the ER if you are worried about how you are feeling.

6. Plan for postpartum

A study in Taiwan found that women had a harder time sleeping at the three-month postpartum mark when they were older than 35. This does not mean that all those people who say "sleep now or forever hold your peace" are right—you will sleep again, promise. It does suggest though that you might want to take special considerations for after the baby is here to make sure you are getting what you need. Consider hiring a postpartum doula, or enlisting the help of friends and family ahead of time.

While postpartum depression is a concern for everyone, research has found that younger women are actually at a higher risk than older women for developing depression. If you are concerned though, seek help from your provider or a therapist right away.

7. Watch your bones

Research has found the women who give birth after the age of 35 have an increased risk of developing osteoporosis later in life. While it can't always be prevented, there are certain lifestyle factors and may decrease your chances of getting osteoporosis, such as eating nutritiously, getting enough vitamin d, not smoking, and doing weight-bearing exercises. You could also talk to your doctor about screenings if you are concerned.

8. Find your village

Women are having fewer babies in the United States for all age groups except women in their forties. In fact, between 2007 and 2011, the birth rate for women aged 40-44 went up 10%—that means more mom-friends in your age group! Finding a community of other moms who get you and are on a similar journey will help you so much.

9. Plan for your birth

Women above the age of 35 are more likely to have a cesarean birth than younger women. I advise all women to consider what they might like their birth to look like, should it happen that they need a cesarean section as their story unfolds. Consider which coping methods would work for you in the operating room, who you'd like to attend the birth, and what it might mean for your recovery.

Thinking about a C-section doesn't mean it will happen, by any means. It just means that you are allowed to have a beautiful birth experience, no matter how it happens.

(Psst: To learn more about cesarean births, check out our c-section class!)

There is a slightly higher incidence of babies needing to spend some time in the NICU when their mothers are over the age of 40. This doesn't mean you need to spend time stressing, but you may consider choosing a birth place with a good NICU, just in case.

10. Celebrate yourself

There are so many reasons to celebrate yourself and your decision to have a baby in this time of your life. As a fellow "elderly" mom myself, I certainly appreciate how much more confident I am now than I was in my twenties. Many moms in their late thirties and forties have flourishing careers, feel more financially stable, have had wonderful adventures, and simply find that now is when motherhood fits. And that's awesome.

Remember that people are going to have opinions on your choices no matter what they are, so you might as well enjoy them.

You've got this.

You might also like:

    When I was expecting my first child, I wanted to know everything that could possibly be in store for his first year.

    I quizzed my own mom and the friends who ventured into motherhood before I did. I absorbed parenting books and articles like a sponge. I signed up for classes on childbirth, breastfeeding and even baby-led weaning. My philosophy? The more I knew, the better.

    Yet, despite my best efforts, I didn't know it all. Not by a long shot. Instead, my firstborn, my husband and I had to figure it out together—day by day, challenge by challenge, triumph by triumph.


    The funny thing is that although I wanted to know it all, the surprises—those moments that were unique to us—were what made that first year so beautiful.

    Of course, my research provided a helpful outline as I graduated from never having changed a diaper to conquering the newborn haze, my return to work, the milestones and the challenges. But while I did need much of that tactical knowledge, I also learned the value of following my baby's lead and trusting my gut.

    I realized the importance of advice from fellow mamas, too. I vividly remember a conversation with a friend who had her first child shortly before I welcomed mine. My friend, who had already returned to work after maternity leave, encouraged me to be patient when introducing a bottle and to help my son get comfortable with taking that bottle from someone else.

    Yes, from a logistical standpoint, that's great advice for any working mama. But I also took an incredibly important point from this conversation: This was less about the act of bottle-feeding itself, and more about what it represented for my peace of mind when I was away from my son.

    This fellow mama encouraged me to honor my emotions and give myself permission to do what was best for my family—and that really set the tone for my whole approach to parenting. Because honestly, that was just the first of many big transitions during that first year, and each of them came with their own set of mixed emotions.

    I felt proud and also strangely nostalgic as my baby seamlessly graduated to a sippy bottle.

    I felt my baby's teething pain along with him and also felt confident that we could get through it with the right tools.

    I felt relieved as my baby learned to self-soothe by finding his own pacifier and also sad to realize how quickly he was becoming his own person.

    As I look back on everything now, some four years and two more kids later, I can't remember the exact day my son crawled, the project I tackled on my first day back at work, or even what his first word was. (It's written somewhere in a baby book!)

    But I do remember how I felt with each milestone: the joy, the overwhelming love, the anxiety, the exhaustion and the sense of wonder. That truly was the greatest gift of the first year… and nothing could have prepared me for all those feelings.

    This article was sponsored by Dr. Brown's. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

    Our Partners

    I was blissfully asleep on the couch while my little one was occupied elsewhere with toys, books and my partner. She got bored with what they were doing, escaped from his watch and, sensing my absence, set about looking for me. Finding me on the couch, nose-level, she peeled back my one available eyelid, singing, "Mama? Mama? ...You there? Wake UP!"

    Sound familiar? Nothing limits sleep more than parenthood. And nothing is more sought after as a parent than a nap, if not a good night's rest.

    But Mother Nature practically guarantees that you are likely to be woken up by a toddler—they're hardwired to find you (and get your attention) when you're "away."


    Keep reading Show less