The 5 Best Ways To Delay Motherhood (& Raise Your Chances Of Pregnancy Later)

Photo: Photo by Janko Ferlič on Unsplash
trying to get pregnant
Self

It's fine to not be ready, but you DO need to be prepared.

The question of the hour for women in their 20’s and 30’s (especially when drinking wine late into the night) seems always to turn to “when do I have a baby? What if I’m ready now, but need to get some priorities in line ... and what if it’s the furthest thing from my mind?"

The unfortunate problem that women have always faced is their reproductive capabilities are not like a fine wine, that improves with age. Rather, they have a finite shelf life — often only to early 40’s, and even then, they can start facing pretty insurmountable odds of achieving that “dream” family.

So, how can you can put full-on “adulting” on hold in order to savor your career, enjoy your travels, and live your new life  — or just put the parenthood-pressure on pause?

Here are five ways to pause that "ticking clock" and give yourself the best possible future outcomes. (And, at the end of the list, stay tuned for five ways to give yourself the BEST baby-making odds, when you a refinally ready!).

1. Make an appointment with your health care provider to discuss your long-term plans for parenthood. 

Discuss with your doctor or nurse practitioner what you think your long-term goals are, and set a baseline for action. Bring this guide with you, so you have all the info below at your fingertips.

They should do some simple fertility testing like an AMh (anti-mullerian hormone level). Women are born with their lifetime supply of eggs, and these gradually decrease in both quality and quantity with age. Anti-Mullerian Hormone is a hormone secreted by cells in developing egg sacs (follicles). The level of AMh in a woman's blood is generally a good indicator of her ovarian reserve.

Equipped with an understanding of your ovarian reserve can allow you to make some follow up decisions about your fertility. The peak of a woman's fertility is usually between ages 23 and 31, with a smaller drop between 31 and 35. Around age 35, the rate picks up, so that by 45 women might only have a 3-5% chance of getting pregnant and staying pregnant.

2. Next, discuss long-acting reversible contraception (LARC). 

With LARC, the issues surrounding an unexpected pregnancy are diminished, and some forms have been found to have an anecdotal protective effect on fertility by lowering your chances of ovarian and uterine cancer

Options for long term birth control include a hormone-based IUD, which is safe even for women who have never given birth, the contraceptive implant and the “Depo shot” which is a quarterly injection of the hormone progestin which keeps the uterus from developing a lining and can keep eggs from maturing in the ovary. 

All three of these methods do use progestin in various ways to maintain a 99% effective contraceptive rate.

3. If you don’t think one of the long-acting reversible contraception (LARC) is for you, then the Nuva-ring which is worn vaginally for 3 weeks and then removed and reinserted one week later. 

Its effectiveness depends on the hormones contained within the ring which include progestin and estrogen, that is absorbed through the vaginal lining directly to the uterus, making for an inhospitable welcome to any sperm that make it through the cervix which now has much thicker mucus, thanks to the hormones.

Additionally, birth control pills that are taken for 3,6, 9, months or even a year, such as Seasonale are made of many of the hormones in traditional Birth Control Pills (BCP) but with the added advantage of no menstrual flow while taking the active pills. So, a year without a period is a boon for many women thinking of delaying parenthood.

4. Plan to aggressively prevent or treat sexually-transmitted infections.

Preventing Sexually Transmitted Disease (STD) is something most women take for granted, but Chlamydia is one of the leading causes of infertility and worldwide — and around 4% of women between 15 and 25 have the disease. 

It is easily prevented with the use of condoms and is easily treated, if diagnosed, with antibiotics. But left untreated, Chlamydia could lead to Pelvic Inflammatory Disease which can cause scarring of the fallopian tubes, leading to tubal infertility years after the original infection. 

While the better-known STD’s such as HIV, Syphilis, and Gonorrhea have deadlier consequences without treatment, the prevalence is less than Chlamydia at about .05% of the population. 

Barrier contraceptives, even when other forms of birth control are utilized, is the only effective method for not contracting these diseases.

5. Understand that egg freezing can be a very expensive gamble.

Egg Freezing can appear to be the answer for delaying parenthood and creating an insurance policy with “young eggs” that might be utilized five to ten, or sometimes even fifteen years in the future, but it also might be an expensive gamble. 

Companies aimed at providing egg freezing services for young women who are looking to finish school, find the right partner, establish their careers, don’t always discuss the real-life take-home baby rates after thawing the eggs in the future.

Egg freezing entails going through an IVF cycle with the intent being to freeze all the eggs. Experts in the field say that about 20 frozen eggs should be able to help you have at least one baby down the line. Many women find that they need at least 2 cycles of IVF to reach that 20-egg goal at the cost of $10,000 or more per IVF cycle.

Pregnancy rates after the thaw and fertilization method range from 23% to 43%, depending on factors such as the expertise of the clinic, the age of the woman, the protocol used for the thaw process, and of course, the sperm utilized for fertilization. And, many women find they don’t even use their eggs after all, as they get pregnant the old-fashioned way when they are ready.

Egg freezing is a boon to women encountering cancer or those who have long career training ahead of them, such as physicians, but it is an expensive gamble and not always a good first line of defense.

So, what if you are READY now to start that family? Here are five ways to raise your odds of getting pregnant

1. Just as with those delaying parenthood, it’s probably best to start back at the physician’s office for a full workup of not only your general health, but also your reproductive health. 

Have your AMh tested and have other blood work such as cholesterol and A1C, to check for pre-Diabetes, as a first step as well as a full STD screening to make sure you are both free of potential complications that could affect your fertility and even the health of your future child.

2. Seriously look into a comprehensive genetic screening for you and your future partner with some great tools, such as Genepeeks, which looks for mutations that you and your partner might carry that could cause disease in your future offspring. 

Get a chromosomal analysis to look for balanced translocation or unbalanced translocations of chromosomes which can lead to repeat miscarriages or even the ability to get pregnant. Check your genetics to see if you are a carrier of an inheritable disease such as Tay Sachs or Cystic Fibrosis.

3. Get in shape for your future pregnancy by losing weight, if needed.

It’s never an easy thing to do, but having a BMI in the obese range has been shown to decrease fertility and increase miscarriage risk. Even a 5-10% loss can up the odds of a successful pregnancy. 

Being active and in shape makes for shorter labor and an easier delivery in many women. There is a reason those Olympic marathoners run throughout their pregnancy and seem to be back on the road 3-4 weeks after birth!

4. Start taking Folic Acid at least 3 months before you want to start “trying”, as it helps prevent neural tube defects such as Spina Bifida. 

Also called Folate, it is available over-the-counter as a member of the B vitamin family. Some women even begin taking prenatal vitamins a couple of months before the wish to start trying to conceive as a protective effect.

5. Decide to have your family with the right partner. (This is the most important aspect of starting your family!)

A study from Australia in 2005, on reasons that women delayed starting their families, showed that women didn't follow the typical pattern of delaying having children to finish an extensive education or build a career — but rather that 50% of women stated they had delayed their family due to not having the right partner. 

This is not what most women want to hear, but the reality is that delayed parenthood is most often the effect of not finding the right person to raise a child with. Finding the right partner at the right time is the most difficult of choices and there is no right way to go about it.

Women have more choices, more opportunities, and more experiences than any other time in history, but deciding when to parent is a choice that only has a 10-15-year time limit.

Making informed choices can foster the best outcome for parents and children alike. Knowing what makes for the best outcomes can start the process of healthy baby-making years in advance.

Mary Fusillo, RN, BSN, MS is a leader in 3rd Party Parenting and fertility treatments. Contact Mary at The Donor Solution or 3 Sisters Surrogacy and learn what you can do to have that family of your dreams.

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