Today’s topic on the Slice of Health show, in line with Women’s week, was a discussion on When is the right time to have a child and whether it is safe after the age of 30.
The expert guests for the day were Dr. Priyanka Mehta and Dr. Mythili, both noted Gynaecologists in the city.
Jane begins the show by asking Dr. Priyanka how to plan a child after 30. Dr. Priyanka says that biological timeline has moved forward in recent times. The right age to be a first time mother starts at 25 n there’s no real cut off. There can be problems after 30 but is definitely manageable and possible.
Jane asks Dr. Mythili what are the problems that can be faced for pregnancies over 30. Jane talks about her friend who had a stillbirth even though she was perfectly healthy. She was scarred for life, but later adopted and is now very happy. She asks how women are to deal with such experiences. Dr. Mythili says that sometimes diabetes is a problem that can go undetected well into pregnancy and can affect the child. It’s not an exact science and the problem may not have even been age related. It could’ve happened even in her 20s
Dr. Priyanka says it could have been a weak uterus. She feels that she can still plan another pregnancy and try for another baby, now that they know there was an issue, they can take preventive measures. But they both agree that it was a wonderful decision for her to adopt and give joy and love to a child who may not have had the chance otherwise.
They advise that it is always advisable to plan pregnancies. More than 50% pregnancies are unplanned. So, how do you plan motherhood?
Dr. Priyanka says that in early pregnancy, a Doctor has to be consulted, and folic acid supplements and basic blood tests must must be taken. The first 12 weeks is the most important period to get healthy. Smoking or drinking during pregnancy is a big no-no, and both smoking and second hand smoke can affect fertility and it can be tough to conceive.
Dr. Mythili talks about women who are now choosing to freeze their eggs, especially when they know that pregnancy, for them, is a long way off. This way they can have a child later in life, as healthy as when they were younger. They can either choose to have the child themselves or can use a surrogate womb. Dr. Mythili says that if it is possible, it’s always best for mothers to bear their own child, as it forms a very important bond between mother and child.
Jane also asks if Down’s Syndrome is a risk in children born to mothers over 35. Dr. Priyanka says that there are blood tests to determine the risk, and also a confirmation test. The risk increases with age. The chances are 1/600 at age 30 and 1/50 at age 40. Both Doctors agree that a planned pregnancy is possible at any age even up to 40.
The first caller, Matheesh, says that to avoid a preterm delivery, the doctor is suggesting an injection for his wife, and asks if it is safe. Dr. Mythili says it’s very safe and doesn’t affect the baby at all.
A second caller, Bindu, believes it’s better to begin motherhood before 30. She says that women have a lot of energy in their 20s. Later motherhood also means you have less time for your child because of your career and it gets tough to balance both.
Dr. Priyanka says there’s no need to give up on motherhood after 35. Sometimes motherhood is more a pressure than a choice for women. Women want the best of both worlds but should know that a career break might be necessary. She says she’s not encouraging postponing motherhood, but at the same time, there’s nothing wrong if you choose to.
The third caller, Dr. Nair, enquires on the risk of a 3rd pregnancy when in the first two pregnancies the mother was diabetic. He says the first two babies had a normal birth and both were healthy. Dr. Mythili says that as long as her sugar levels are under control and in check, she should be fine. She also says there are medicines that can help. She urges the parents to keep meeting their doctor often. Mr. Nair signs off saying he’s hoping for a girl child this time!
Another caller, Srinidhi asks about effect of alcohol for on fertility and pregnancy. Dr. Priyanka says that once you start trying for a child, it is better to stop drinking at least one month in advance and not drink during the entire pregnancy.
The last caller, Natasha, says that her sister has ovarian cysts and has had it removed three times and asks how safe is it to plan her pregnancy. Dr. Mythili says there’s no reason for pregnancy to be unsuccessful because it sounds like the cysts was outside of the ovaries. It can be planned successfully as long as they go for regular check ups.
Jane stresses that the importance of planning can’t be overstated. Both the Doctors agree that it is better to keep the same Gynaecologist through the entire term.
When it comes to fatherhood after 30, they say it’s a 50-50 role. There is a shift today, where men seem to be taking it up quite happily as well!
Dr. Mythili concludes, urging listeners not to let anyone close any doors for you. And Dr. Priyanka says go with the flow, plan your pregnancy and be positive!