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Only in the Hospital

Birth Complications Over Age 40

For the last two or three decades , women over 35 have been having healthy and successful pregnancies and giving birth to healthy babies with no birth defects, despite conventional wisdom suggesting that pregnancy should take place before that time.

The number of women who get pregnant after 40 is increasing every day, and physicians have found that women over 40 are perfectly capable of having a healthy pregnancy, labor and delivery, although the risk of complications do increase somewhat as a woman gets older.

The National Center for Health Statistics says that the percentage of women conceiving in their thirties and forties began to increase in 1970 and has not stopped since then, thanks to the advances and discoveries in the medical field as well as many women holding off on family planning until their careers were well established.

Fertility does decrease significantly with age, and if you are between 40 and 44, your risks for complications during pregnancy are higher than women between 35 and 39, and double the risk over women under 35.

Being aware of potential problems during the different stages of pregnancy is the first step in a happy, healthy, older pregnancy. The most common problem is known as Downs syndrome and is a result of a chromosomal defect, most common in older mothers.

Other complications can be the obvious result of your age, such as problems conceiving since female fertility begins to decrease when a woman turns 30, and those arising as consequences of health problems such as diabetes, high blood pressure, etc. Pre-existing medical conditions can lead you to preterm labor or preeclampsia, a condition that affects both you and your unborn baby. Some diseases may develop along with your pregnancy, even if you are normally a perfectly healthy woman.

Generally speaking, you do not need special prenatal care just because you are over a certain age, unless your obstetrician detects a potential health problem during the early stage of your pregnancy. First-time mothers can have complications during labor, or it labor might be more a bit more difficult than labor for younger woman.

After 35, it is more likely that you will undergo cesarean surgery, and the older you are, the higher risk of c-section you face. With the benefits of amniocentesis during pregnancy your chances of complications including c-section lowers.

Once you decide to get pregnant after age 40, planning your pregnancy is your best aid to prevent complications at any stage. A gynecologist or obstetrician can determine your medical condition, and suggest immunizations or medications to increase your chances to give birth to a healthy baby and stay healthy yourself.

Author: Nicky Pilkington
About the author: For more information about pregnancy complications with age or other complications in pregnancy you can check out complications.org.uk

Sheryl’s comment:
While there is in fact a higher incidence of pregnancy and labor complications in “older mothers”, I have to wonder if the higher rates are due to legitimate concerns or as a result of unnecessary testing done via the scare tactics of telling women they are “high risk”.

It is totally absurd to automatically label women as “high risk” just because they have hit the arbitrary age of 35. It is ridiculous to suggest that a 36 year old woman will have a significant increase in pregnancy and labor complications compared to a 34 year old.

I believe it is just another way for the unscrupulous obstetricians and midwives to line their pockets further with unnecessary and dangerous testing and it also allows them to manage the childbirth further by making the mother more compliant because she wants to protect her baby from her “high risk” body.

If you are a healthy woman, over 35, who stays in shape, eats well and avoids toxins then there is a good chance that you are a hell of a lot healthier than most 25 year olds out there who eat potato chips, guzzle booze and watch TV day after day. Do the normal prenatal care, keep an eye on your sugar levels, protein in your urine, blood pressure and weight. Eat a healthy diet, and practice prenatal yoga to prepare for pregnancy and childbirth.

Don’t let your personal fearmonger talk you into tests such as CVS or Amniocentisis that could actually miscarry your pregnancy just because you are not the ideal age. Don’t let them talk you into inducing labor because you are over 35 (ie: “high risk”). That does not even resemble a legitimate reason. Whatever you do, don’t let them talk you into filleting you like a salmon just because you are “high risk”.

If you are over 35 and want to have a baby then go for it. Sure there are some additional factors to consider but do not let that cloud your judgment or allow others to bully you into doing things to your body or your baby that you know in your gut are wrong.

Buy the book: Older Mothers: Conception, Pregnancy and Birth after 35
Image Source: http://flickr.com/photos/8834150@N06/542806726/

About the author

Natural Childbirth – who has written posts on A Much Better Way.


Discussion

18 Responses to “Birth Complications Over Age 40”

  1. Anonymous said…

    How old were you when you had your baby?

    August 10, 2007 12:50 PM

    Posted by Anonymous | December 16, 2007, 10:18 pm
  2. sheryl

    I turned 35 less than a month before my daughter was born and my dimwit midwife (CNM) actually tried to convince me that I somehow converted to a high risk situation.

    In retrospect I should have realized then and there that she was a moron and fired her on the spot.

    August 10, 2007 1:17 PM

    Posted by Sheryl Lyon | December 16, 2007, 10:19 pm
  3. had my first child at 38 and my last of 4 at 43. During my first pregnancy, my doctors insisted that I have an amniocentesis that scared the bejesus out of me. They were convinced that I ran a high risk of having a Downs syndrome baby or some other complications. That was my first and last amniocentesis.

    In retrospect, although I said I would have loved my child no matter what life obstacles they faced, i sometimes wonder at the reality and what I would have felt, guilt,burdened etc.

    August 11, 2007 10:29 AM

    Posted by Sandy P | December 16, 2007, 10:19 pm
  4. Hello Two thumbs up to ; Natural Childbirth – A Much Better Way in regards to Pregnancy Stage Video! Monday I was thinking the exact same thing. This is a VERY interesting line of thought.

    Posted by Pregnancy Stage Video | December 24, 2007, 6:39 pm
  5. Hello from down under Saturday I was of the opinion that h Complications Over Age 40 · Natural Childbirth – A Much Better Way was a really good concept. But after reading more about Early Stage Pregnancy Picture, I’m not so sure… What do you think?

    Posted by Early Stage Pregnancy Picture | February 24, 2008, 1:51 am
  6. I was 45 when I had my son,which I had no complications-healthy son. My oldest son was 25 at the time. I was on birth control prior to conception on June 1997 at that time when off the pill. I became pregnant in April 1998, went to the doctor due to lumps under my arms which I became fearful of. The doctor then took a test stating I was pregnant which took me by surprise. I have a family history of grandmother’s having children in their late 40’s with no health problems, no complications with their deliveries, all children healthy. Doctor stated good health care, eating right and I walked 5 miles a day. I kept doing what I always did even shoveling snow,moving lawn and going to graduate school up to delivery.

    Posted by DebS | August 8, 2009, 12:21 pm
  7. Interesting information, I agree with your conclusions, I certainly don’t see any reason why the majority of women cannot have a healthy happy pregnancy over 40. Thanks for the good info.

    Posted by Jeff | December 22, 2009, 3:32 pm
  8. My first delivery was a failed home birth at age 27. Forty hours of labor, meconium fluid, fever.I had a c-section. At 35 I v-backed unsuccessfully. I am thankful for the option of educated obstetric and nursing care. I have two living children and I have become a nurse and I work in labor and delivery. All of the nurses love women’s health and try to give the options of natural care as much as we can. The nursery does not give every baby a passy or formula, or want to keep your infant from you. Why on earth would they? I have learned there MUST be balance. If the real concerns of high risk issues are not met with understanding science and nature can work together that becomes dangerous ignorance. If you are not working with a Midwive who is in an area of real Obstetric support and are at all high risk the outcome can be a term dead baby. I’m not a fearmonger. I am a nurse who has wept with mother’s and helped them through their loss. Three days ago I stood at the grave side of my 42 year old fiend’s 8# girl. She would not hear of any test even though she had risk factors. Amnio is not the only check point. I too chose not to have that but I am pleading with anyone with risk factors to get proper care and don’t be afraid of Glucose and Blood Pressure checks, or even ultrasound if needed.If you end up with a hospital delivery or even a C-Section, thank God you have a live healthy child. I lived it. God has given us advanced knowlege in Obstetrics to increase heathy outcomes not cause harm. We care about you and your baby’s developement. Prayfully consider these words.

    Posted by jjrn | March 6, 2010, 7:49 am
    • Sheryl Lyon

      @jjrn:

      I don’t agree 100% with everything you said but I do agree with this. There MUST be balance. There are always certain situations where obstetrics are necessary and save lives. We all know that. Many tests are dangerous and overused however. Thank you for your thoughtful and educated contribution.

      Posted by admin | March 9, 2010, 7:50 pm
  9. I am 40years old and would like to have another baby. However I have had three previous C-sections in 1988, 1991 and 1994. Is it to late for me to have another baby and will I be able to deliver V-back or will I have to have another C-section? Will having another baby be safe for me and my unborn child?

    Posted by annalise jackson | April 17, 2010, 1:26 pm
    • Sheryl Lyon

      @annalise jackson:
      Only your body can determine if you can still get pregnant, but many women successfully conceive over 40. The best way to achieve a successful VBAC is to research, research, research. Learn all you can about legitimate reasons for cesareans and how others have VBAC-d in your state. Read “Pushed” by Jennifer Block, visit ican-online.org and read the unnecesarean.com. Join VBAC forums and if it is a priority to you and you have no legitimate need for a cesarean (the prior cesareans are NOT a legitimate reason), then you can absolutely attempt and most likely achieve a successful VBAC.

      Posted by admin | July 3, 2010, 7:53 pm
  10. Hi I have a quick question. Did you have successful natural childbirth following an emergency cesarean with the first?

    Posted by James | July 22, 2010, 1:07 pm
  11. Hi great article thanks for sharing. Why does it seem doctor's and hospitals are against Natural childbirth?
    John

    Posted by John | July 22, 2010, 1:36 pm
  12. Hi,
    My name is sue I am 36 years old I have had 4 c-sections with three living children my youngest o e has just turned one and myself and my husband just found out I am pregnant and I am scared I have lost a child before and you never get over it my 3rd C-section my baby was still born we waited almost 5 years to have another baby we were so fearful this last C-section I had a healthy beautiful baby girl I can not deliver by V I am very very small down there and it is impossible that’s when I had my first
    Pregnacy I was to have twins they waited too long
    And gave me something to aselerate my labor my heart stopped and one of my twins died because it he sofacated
    As you can see I don’t know what to do I’m so afraid I keep hearing after 35 you are unable to have healthy children I can’t have and would not have an abortion I and my husband don’t believe in that and I also know I as another will love my child no matter what but I am not internal I have only one sister I came from a small family who would take care of my baby if he is sick I don’t want to have a sick child some people are cruel in this world please help me.

    Posted by Britney | October 16, 2010, 7:20 pm
  13. I have given birth seven times. The last three were after I turned 40. (40, 42 and 43) All three of those were unassisted home births. I educated myself and kept myself healthy and well-nourished during the pregnancies. Statistics are just that. They don’t determine what an individual woman will experience during her pregnancy and birth.

    Posted by Terri | November 23, 2010, 12:36 pm
  14. Thank you all so very much for your comments, they all made me feel so much more comfortable in wanting to have another child. I am 40 in May this year 2011 and I am also a type 1 diabetic on insulin. I had my first child aged 38 and would love to give him a brother or sister. Was concerned but know I feel alot happier about it and not as stressed as I feel in my heart my next baby will be fine. Thank you all again for posting your thoughts and making me feel more comfortable and relaxed abouit h aving another baby.

    Posted by Sharlene | January 12, 2011, 1:10 am
  15. I’m 41 and I’m trying to have a baby but I’m having some difficults. My doctor says everythins is ok so we are trying to having a healthy style of life and going on with it

    Posted by Paulinne | October 7, 2011, 10:30 am
  16. After having a child i think that Becoming a mother is one of the most exciting and enriching times of woman’s life.
    No matter what age we are, we’ve got to keep trying.

    Posted by Cursos a distancia | October 17, 2011, 4:44 am
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