Pregnancy Complications After 30 – Bleeding in Early Pregnancy

pregnancy complications after 30

I remember it like it was yesterday. I’d finished teaching for the day and was heading to an extended after school training session that wouldn’t finish until about 7pm when I felt that familiar gush of wetness that can usually only signal one thing… aunt flow has arrived for the month. The only problem? I was five weeks pregnant.

pregnancy complications after 30

I tried not to panic as I quickly walked down to the toilet block to have a look. I knew that the risk of pregnancy complications after 30 was higher and bleeding in early pregnancy or really bleeding during pregnancy at all was not a good sign. Maybe it was just some cervical mucus, maybe I’d peed myself a little. But no, when I sat down and lowered my pants my worst fears were realised. There in my undies was not just a small spotting of blood but a decent pool of bright red like the start of my period.

I panicked and felt sick to the stomach but the training was starting any moment and nobody knew I was pregnant. Heck, the only reason we knew we were pregnant was because I’d been madly tracking everything from ovulation to base line temperatures for months and so at about 2 weeks when my period didn’t arrive and I had a wedding to go to that could involve enjoying some champagne if I hadn’t conceived again that month, I took a test and confirmed that indeed our dreams had come true and we were 1-2 weeks pregnant. Later that week, I had booked with my GP to get some bloods done and confirmed that yes early stages of pregnancy were on track. Until now.

bleeding in early pregnancy

I didn’t have time to think much longer so I rushed back to my classroom, grabbed some sanitary items and popped back to the toilet to put them on before rushing into the training. I was torn. If everything was fine, then I didn’t really need to go to the training anyway as I wouldn’t be there for much longer that year. On the flip side, if I missed the training and the bleeding during pregnancy was indeed a miscarriage, it would mean I would have to keep working and make that training up by coming to work for a day after everyone else and either train at another school or perform God knows what tasks at school all on my lonesome. And on top of that, If I was having a miscarriage, was there anything I could do about it?

I had a few more minutes before we had to be inside so I quickly called hubby, trying my best not to let the tears that were threatening to break loose, fall from my eyes. I went through the facts with him (that pregnancy complications after 30 were increased and the fact I was experiencing bleeding in early pregnancy didn’t look good) and we both decided there wouldn’t be much I could do anyway so I would go to the training and we would go see a GP that night when we got home.

That training was probably the longest 3 or so hours of my life. I couldn’t concentrate on a single word and I’m sure people thought I was being strange as I fought to hold back tears. As soon as it was over, I bolted for the car park and headed home to get hubby before we headed to a late-night doctor for some advice on whether this was a result of pregnancy complications after 30 or whether bleeding during pregnancy could be just fine. After I got home, I burst into tears, so upset that my body had failed me.

pregnancy complications after 30

The bleeding had stopped and my pad was clean so presumably it had stopped within about half an hour. We waited for what felt like an eternity in that waiting room before we were welcomed into the GP’s office. Lucky she was lovely. She asked a few questions, did some poking around and after looking at my pad, it appeared that no more bleeding had happened since the initial lot. She didn’t give much away in regard to the bleeding during pregnancy but seemed a little concerned, especially when pushing on my right ovary was causing some pain.

I know one of the increased risks when it comes to pregnancy complications after 30 is ectopic pregnancy and wondered if this was what was causing the pain. I’ve continued to have constant pains throughout the last 4 or so weeks, only mild like a constipation pain, but sometimes also having sharp pains in the ovaries and abdomen. Two nights ago, I woke up in excruciating pain, felt like vomiting and was sweating profusely but assumed it was just a stomach bug. Now I wondered if it was more and these pains weren’t normal but a sign of pregnancy complications after 30 like my mum had said. The GP told me to keep an eye on it, that bleeding in early pregnancy could just be the implantation bleed, but gave me a referral for ultrasound just to be safe and told me to book for the next morning.

bleeding in early pregnancy

Once we were home, I called in sick to work for the next day and hubby got the ok from his boss to start a little later. I don’t know how we slept that night or if we even did. In the morning I rang the ultrasound office and even though they normally book out months ahead, they were so understanding of the circumstances and squeezed me in for early that morning. About an hour later, off we went to the ultrasound to hopefully determine the reason for the bleeding in early pregnancy. Again, we waited for an eternity in that waiting room before being called, made even worse by the fact that you obviously need to drink the litre of water before an ultrasound and then hold that little bladder til its over.

Once inside I gowned up and we went through what was happening with our technician. The 3 of us then sat in that tiny, dark, little room and I think my heart stopped as he applied the cold gel and started moving the doppler around my belly. Time was standing still. Why wasn’t he saying anything?

bleeding during pregnancy

Finally, he spoke and said that the good news was that he could see the sac where the baby would eventually be and there was a single foetus present and all seemed normal with my ovaries (no ectopic pregnancy phew) but being that I was only five or six weeks pregnant, we didn’t yet have a heartbeat. This is not usually present until after 6 weeks of gestation. I felt a slight rush of relief. He decided to do an internal ultrasound known as a transvaginal scan as well just to get a better look and at the end of this confirmed that everything looked normal for this stage of my pregnancy and I should go home, rest and see a GP again if any more bleeding during pregnancy occurred. He also suggested I go for another blood test to confirm that my HCG (pregnancy hormone) levels were still rising and rule out any other possible pregnancy complications after 30 that might be causing bleeding in early pregnancy.

Even though everything seemed ok, I think this made me extra nervous for the rest of my pregnancy. Would I have more bleeding during pregnancy? Was it still an early sign that I might miscarry later in the pregnancy? That first trimester in particular, when the risks of pregnancy complications after 30 can be so high was excruciatingly long and scary every time I had a weird pain or feeling.

But after a pretty much textbook rest of pregnancy, I’m happy to say I delivered a beautiful, healthy boy with no complications. Perhaps it was a late implantation bleed that caused my bleeding during pregnancy or as happens with many people just some spotting during pregnancy. All I know is it’s a scary experience I will never forget and hopefully not have to experience with my next pregnancy.

Did you have bleeding in early pregnancy or bleeding during pregnancy at any stage? What other pregnancy complications after 30 have you experience?

Risky Business – Pregnancy Risks by Age

high risk pregnancy age

I had my first child at 32, my bestie was the same age, my colleague was 39 and I have another who’s just announced she’s pregnant at 40. Delaying pregnancy due to building a career, finding the right relationship or being emotionally and financially ready has become increasingly popular and in fact just recently, pregnancy after 30 has overtaken pregnancy rates for those in their 20’s. But along with age comes some risks we need to way up in our journey to motherhood. When I first started reading about the risks of pregnancy after 30, I have to say some of the statistics to do with a high risks pregnancy age really freaked me out but rest assured there are a few things you can do to minimise some of the risks.

What is considered a high risk pregnancy age?

pregnancy risks by age

When looking at statistics, one of the highest risks for pregnancy complications is the age of the mother. So just what is considered a high risk pregnancy age? Most health professionals consider a high risk pregnancy age to be anything under 17 or over 35 but that doesn’t mean that there still isn’t increased risk for those younger than 35 as we approach that age bracket. Certainly, as a woman in my 30’s it was something I took seriously in our decision to have a baby and a reason why I took extra tests out that would usually be automatically done for those considered to be high risk pregnancy age.

Pregnancy risks by age – What are the risks of pregnancy after 30?

So exactly what are we talking about when we refer to the risks of pregnancy after 30? Some of the increased pregnancy risks by age are:

  • Birth defects/ genetic risks
  • Twins and multiples
  • Miscarriage
  • Still birth
  • Decline in fertility
  • High blood pressure
  • Gestational diabetes

Pregnancy Risks by Age #1 – Birth Defects and Genetic Risks

One of the scariest risks of pregnancy after 30 is an increase in the chance of birth defects such as spina bifida, missing or malformed body parts, heart defects and cleft palate. There is also a bigger risk of chromosome problems such as Down Syndrome which increases from 1 in 1200 at age 25 to 1 in 900 by age 30 and as many as 1 in 100 by age 40. Preventative measures like taking folic acid, not drinking alcohol or smoking and eating a healthy diet can all be helpful in preventing birth defects as one of the risks of pregnancy after 30. I personally used a supplement like Elevit throughout my pregnancy to ensure I was getting enough folic acid as well as a boost of lots of other vitamins to stay healthy. The other step we took to stay informed about our risks of pregnancy after 30 was to obtain extra genetic testing including the Harmony Test or NIPT at 10 weeks to test for the most common genetic abnormalities such as Trisomy 21 (Down Syndrome).

Pregnancy Risks by Age Chart – Down Syndrome

pregnancy risks by age chart down syndrome
Pregnancy Risks by Age Chart  – Down Syndrome Sourced from:

Pregnancy Risks by Age #2 – Twins or Multiples

Not necessarily a bad thing, but another one of the risks of pregnancy after 30 is the chance of having multiple births. Studies have concluded that older woman going through hormonal changes tend to produce more follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) which is responsible for egg drop at ovulation. More FSH equals a higher potential for more than one egg to be released and voila you’re having twins or multiples. Something to consider when you’re weighing up financial plans and preparing for a family, especially if you already have other children to consider.

Pregnancy Risks by Age #3 – Miscarriage

One of the awful risks of pregnancy after 30 has a lot to do with our information above on genetic risks. About half of all miscarriages occur due to chromosome problems and as we noted, as the risk of chromosomal issues increases with the mothers age, then so too does the risk of miscarriage. Research has shown a steady incline in miscarriage as a risk of pregnancy after 30 with less than 9% of woman aged 20-24 suffering a loss and rising to almost 75% for woman over 45. Some studies have shown this also has a lot to do with a decline in the quality of the eggs we have left.

Pregnancy Risks by Age #4 – Stillbirth

I can’t imagine much worse than carrying your child for so long, only to suffer a loss by stillbirth. I have had friends go through this horrendous event and you wouldn’t wish it on anyone. Similar to our other risks of pregnancy after 30, stillbirth is up to 2.23 times higher in those of high risk pregnancy age. It too has a steady incline of risk with less than 5% occurring in woman under 34, around 6% in woman aged 35-40 and over 8% for those over 40. Interestingly, it is shown to be even greater for those having their first child at these ages. Some preventative measures can be taken such as inducing woman earlier for those stillbirths that occurred in the 39th and 40th weeks of pregnancy.

Pregnancy Risks by Age #5 – Decline in Fertility

pregnancy risks by age chart fertility
Pregnancy Risks by Age Chart – Fertility Sourced from:

This is one of the risks of pregnancy after 30 that we’re all probably aware of, right? That lovely ticking time bomb known as decline in fertility that comes with a high risk pregnancy age. As some of you will remember from sex ed classes, we are born with all the eggs we will ever have. As we get older, this means that we have less and less eggs and the quality of those eggs is also reduced. I like to think of it like my lovely chicken eggs in the fridge. Every time we want one, we take one out but sadly those others left in there are declining in quality, until there is nothing good left. Unfortunately, we humans can’t just pop down to the shop to grab a few more eggs to fertilise (or at least not our own). Male fertility also declines with age due to reduced sperm count, swimability and volume. There isn’t a lot we can do about this, apart from having children as soon as we are ready. To help on the male side, I made my husband take Menevit which helps promote sperm health.

Pregnancy Risks by Age #6 – Other risks

Research has found that with increased age, we see small increases in most risks of pregnancy after 30 and birth related complications. These include gestational diabetes, need for emergency caesareans, high blood pressure, preterm birth, low or high birth weights, placenta previa, breech positions, postpartum haemorrhages and maternal deaths. Many of these conditions are manageable with early intervention so its important to undertake testing such as everyone’s favourite diabetes test drink and follow recommendations from your health professional. Those of high risk pregnancy age over 35 automatically get extra tests in various areas but some of these are available to those under 35 if you are happy to pay for them. Speak with your health professional about those you may wish to undertake. I found this offered me peace of mind at a small extra cost.

Pregnancy Risks by Age Chart – Other Risks

pregnancy risks by age chart other
Pregnancy Risks by Age Chart – Other risks Sourced from:

Weighing Up Your Pregnancy Risks by Age

In the end, we obviously decided that we were willing to take the risks presented to us, utilising whatever preventative measures we could to help minimise our risks of pregnancy after 30 and give us peace of mind along the way that our little baby was doing just fine. Many health professionals said to me that as long as I was healthy, then chances are my pregnancy would be too and it really was a textbook pregnancy for the most part. My next pregnancy will put me officially into the high risk pregnancy age group but if a baby Is something you really want then I think you’ll find the benefits way out way the risks.

Endoscopy and Colonoscopy Procedure Diary

colonoscopy prep

Day before Endoscopy and Colonoscopy

6:30am – I struggle to motivate myself to wake up on my first day of holidays to begin my endoscopy and colonoscopy prep. It’s time for my last official meal for two days and while I had grand plans last night of eating everything in sight to prepare myself for the long days ahead, as someone who rarely eats breakfast, I find myself struggling to stomach two bits of toast with butter. Prior to this, I have a regular bowl movement and a shower, as once I take the tablets, I have no idea how quickly things are going to start happening.

Originally, I had wondered if I should just have nothing. Less to come out the other end during the endoscopy and colonoscopy prep, right? But since I’d already fasted overnight, I thought this probably wasn’t the best idea for someone who gets hangry at the drop of a hat.

7am – I take the two Dulcolax Laxatives I’ve been given to start the endoscopy and colonoscopy prep and get ready for the fun to begin.

8:30am – I feel like I could go to the toilet. My guts are grumbling and churning but I’m pretty sure it’s just my nerves making my stomach turn. According to the info, it should take 6-12 hours for the tablets to kick in, so I’m expecting nothing until the first powder drink later today.

11am – hunger pangs are starting already. Have to say, as a self-proclaimed food-a-holic, this was what I was dreading most about the endoscopy and colonoscopy prep. My life revolves around eating and between eating, I’m thinking about what I’m going to eat next. According to the foods to eat before colonoscopy list, I can apparently have clear liquids such as apple juice, yellow Gatorade and clear soup but I don’t have any of these on hand that are not in the banned colours of purple and red. I’ve read blue should also be avoided on my foods to avoid before colonoscopy research.

colonoscopy prep tips

To take my mind off it, I prep the Glycoprep-C solution (which is a colonoscopy prep drink) for later on and place in the fridge to chill. I read the instructions for the millionth time and pour the powder into a 1 litre Tupperware shaker then add the litre of water to it and stir with a wooden spoon. It looks revolting. A brownie/yellowie liquid, like a dirty lake. It does smell ok though, kind of like yellow Gatorade. We will see later if it tastes as bearable.

12pm – starting to feel a bit nauseous and headachy now from lack of food and possible water. I should probably try to drink a bit more fluids, although plenty will be required later during the colonoscopy prep drink.

1pm – time for the first dose of Picoprep. I prepare this second colonoscopy prep drink as instructed in warm water and taste a little bit. I’m pleasantly surprised as it tastes just like a really sweet Powerade sugar drink. I down it in a few goes, but notice some of the powder is left in the bottom. I’m thinking perhaps the water wasn’t hot enough. I add a little more water to my cup and mix to try get it all. This bit doesn’t taste amazing and its difficult to get it all to come out of the cup, but after a few goes, I get the majority of it into my mouth. It apparently takes 30 mins to 6 hours to work so I’m sticking close to the toilet now. Endoscopy and Colonoscopy Prep is about to get shitty (all puns intended)! Since about 12pm I’ve started having some light stomach cramping presumably from the laxatives I took this morning. Still feeling nauseous and headachy so I’ve just been watching Netflix and having naps. Within 10 minutes, I’ve already had my first bowl movement since my regular one this morning. It’s more like a gastro loose stool.

colonoscopy prep drink 1

2:30pm – pooped again, waterier this time.
2:50pm – spent a while just sitting on the loo as felt like I still needed to go. 3:30pm – toilet again.
4:40pm – have some tea. Starving.

5:40pm – going again.

colonoscopy prep

6pm – Onto the second colonoscopy prep drink for the day. This is the pre-prepared Glycoprep. First one was actually kind of like a super sweet Powerade and only a glass so not so bad. This one is kind of like lemon cordial with something not so nice but it’s still not as bad as I thought so I’m pretty happy besides the grumbling stomach. Only 24 hours till I can eat a pizza, large chips with gravy, bowl of pasta, 10 pack nuggs and sushi pack. That’s my list for now. You need to drink the litre of liquid over an hour. Half way through and it’s starting to get a bit sickly.

6:45pm – back to the loo.
7:04pm – closer together. Things are really ramping up now and burning.
7:25pm – and again.
7:49pm – tried to hold it for a bit, stomach cramps increasing, starting to feel like passing acid now. They’re all pretty much like a stream of wee that burns. I’m trying to just pat the toilet paper rather than wipe to reduce the agony.

Throughout the night is not to bad. I manage to get some sleep.

Day of the Endoscopy and Colonoscopy Procedure

4:30am – drink the last Picoprep colonoscopy prep drink. Again, it gets stuck in the bottom so I’m left trying to swirl water around and drink the last awful tasting part a few times. I go to the toilet while I’m up but only to pee. Back to bed, I toss and turn a bit as I’m scared I will need to go urgently but manage to sleep on and off

7:40am – Go to toilet again and manage to have a movement this time. My mouth is dry and tastes like the powder and I have a headache so I keep trying to sip more water before I try get some more sleep.

8:50am– go twice more after lots of stomach pains. Seems to be a lot clearer liquid which is what the doctor will want. Still feels like I need to empty a bit more but I can move around a lot more without feeling like I’m going to poop my pants.

colonoscopy prep keep hydrated

10:30am – go once more and drink my last fluids. Still have a headache so I’ve tried to drink as much as possible.

11:30am – go again. Worried I’m still not empty and it’s only an hour till I need to leave for the hospital for the endoscopy and colonoscopy procedure to take place.

12:10pm – and again. Am I even going to be able to leave for hospital in half an hour?

12:25pm – I reluctantly get off the toilet to shower and dress before we have to leave for the hospital.

Arriving at the hospital for my Endoscopy and Colonoscopy procedure

We check in at admissions and head to the day surgery where they check details again and then we wait for about half hour in the waiting room. At this point a nurse collects me to weigh me and go through lots of medical questions. Then it’s time to gown up and I’m left alone in a small room to relax and watch tv. The anaesthesia assistant comes in to check a bunch of details and lets me know I’m first cab off the rank for my endoscopy and colonoscopy procedure so shouldn’t be long. Not long after, the anaesthetist comes in and asks some similar questions. Finally, the assistant comes back and takes me into the surgery room.

Endoscopy and Colonoscopy Procedure 1

I’m asked to open the back of my gown and lay down on my left side with my back against a plastic wall attached to the bed. A blood pressure band is put on my left arm while the anaesthetist inserts a cannula into my hand and starts the drugs. Within seconds the room is becoming a bit fuzzy and not long after that I’m out.

Waking up after Endoscopy and Colonoscopy

I wake up from my endoscopy and colonoscopy procedure about 40 minutes later in the recovery ward with an air mask on and some fluids rehydrating me via my drip. I’m told it all went well. I feel a bit out of it, dizzy and nauseous but overall pretty normal for having just come off the anaesthetic.

After a while, they remove my mask and IV drip and roll me into a curtain to get dressed. After this I am allowed to walk to a small room for some sandwiches, juice and tea which are just heaven after fasting so long. The anaesthetist checks on me to see how I’m feeling and the doctor comes to see me and says the endoscopy and colonoscopy all went well and we will have my biopsy results in a few weeks due to Christmas break. I’m moved to a lounge area to relax and watch tv while they monitor me for another half hour and then finally my husband is bought in to collect me and sign me out.

iv drip for endoscopy and colonoscopy

I’m still feeling a bit dizzy and nauseous. I’ve been told to hydrate this afternoon and eat as normal. I’m so happy it’s over and the procedure part itself was easy peasy. I’m not in any pain anywhere which is great too.

On the way home, I eat a 6 pack of nuggs and a cheeseburger from Macca’s. I’m feeling a bit nauseous still so spend the arvo lying in bed. After some spag bol for dinner and milk and cookies for dessert I’m feeling a lot better. My stomach is very bloated however and feels like my guts are twisting. Not sure if this is from eating or the anaesthesia or the air they pump into the colon to see better. Feels like air or gas when I prod around and is causing some discomfort.

Post Endoscopy and Colonoscopy Care

Feeling ok when I wake up. Bowl movement wasn’t painful but was not back to regular yet. Still feel nauseous and have stomach cramps.

Day 2 after endoscopy and colonoscopy procedure – no bowl movement today although feels like I need to.

Day 3 – yay!!! finally a normal movement and feeling like things are back to normal.

Day 4 – had a bunch of gastro in the evening and wondered if I had a tummy bug.

Day 5 – feeling fine again. For the next few days only one small movement which was a struggle. After this I have 4 or more days pass without success. Apparently if I have no discomfort, it’s fine not to have a movement and just the bowel refilling. On day 10 I start getting a little pain in tummy after lunch and feel like I might be able to go soon. I finally have a movement that night.

A few weeks later my gastroenterologist calls with the good news that they found no serious problems with my stomach during the endoscopy and colonoscopy procedure so I’m in the clear for things like stomach cancers which is great. Not so great is that they don’t really know why my stomach isn’t absorbing vitamins as it should and I am diagnosed with some type of autoimmune deficiency and told to keep taking my supplements through pregnancy to ensure I’m getting enough vitamins. Time to get back to the business of baby making.