Pregnancy Over 40: Survival Tips- Part II
One of the best things I love about blogging and publishing InSeason Mom is that I get to share in the joy of so many wonderful people that I would not have. Annie with http://newtomum.blogspot.com/ is one of those people. Although we haven't physically met, I have met through her blog. Within the last day or so, I learned, from reading her blog, that after an intense two-year journey of trying to conceive, 42-year-old Annie and her husband are expecting their first child! Congratulations and blessings! I am thrilled. (Please read update on Annie at the end of this posting)
I'll bet Annie isn't the only first time 40-something woman who recently found out that she is expecting and is happy about it! For all of these women and for all of us who know the women, I wanted to revisit and update tips I provided in a December 2009 blog.
1)REALIZE YOU ARE NOT ALONE
Although reports vary when citing the recent number of women giving birth for the first time in their 40s, most agree that the number of mothers in this category has doubled in the last several years.
Now is the best time ever to be a first time mom over 40. There are several good resources including books, compact discs, digital video disks and online support groups. Almost every state in the U.S. and many cities have local support groups for moms over 35.
Take comfort, my sisters while you may be the only expectant mom over 40 in your circle of friends or small community, you are far from being alone.
2)CHOOSE AN OBSTETRICIAN/MIDWIFE WHO WILL TREAT YOU AS AN INDIVIDUAL NOT AS A STATISTIC
The first words out of your doctor’s mouth upon confirming your pregnancy may not be congratulations but may be statistics citing the medical history of pregnant women over age 35. I understand that he/she may not have seen many excited over 40-moms-to-be and may be unprepared for his/her first over 40 expectant mom. Therefore, don't make any quick decisions based upon what the first statements out of your doctor's mouth. You may have to help educate him/her in this area.
It's important for you to remember that age alone is not an indicator that there will be a problem with your pregnancy. Ask your prospective health care provider if he or she has concerns about pregnancy over 35. Listen carefully to make sure the concerns are medically based rather than opinion-based.
Opinion-based concerns are those that do not have any medical validity. You'll easily recognize them. Your health care provider may be concerned that collectively the medical history of pregnant women over age 40 shows an increased risk of high blood pressure, diabetes, cesarean birth and chromosomal defects.
Remember that these studies are based on the results of midlife pregnant women as a group and are not based on your individual medical history. Select an obstetrician or midwife who respects your right to have your pregnancy viewed individually.
3)GUARD YOUR MENTAL HEALTH
I am forever puzzled that when any woman becomes pregnant, everyone from family members to strangers offer unsolicited advice. Many of these folks seem to delight in telling pregnancy horror stories. As an older expectant mom, you will hear an even wider-range of comments. Many will tap into your insecurity of being too old to give birth or ask how old you will be when your baby goes to first- grade, becomes a teenager, get married and so forth.
How do you handle so much negativity during a time when you are most vulnerable? The first thing to remember is your pregnant body is going through physical as well as emotional changes. Comments that you may have laughed off during your pre-pregnancy state may now send you in tears. Therefore, it’s important to surround yourself with positive books and people. Take a minute to read a funny book, article or watch a comedy.
Next, have a comeback for the well-meaning folks. For example, when one ask how you will be in five years when your baby enters first grade or in thirteen years when your baby goes to college, ask them how old you will be in this length of time if you didn’t give birth. Hopefully, they’ll get the point. We grow older whether or not we pursue motherhood or other dreams in our late 30s or 40s.
And if giving a polite response doesn’t work, tell them as we do in the South, “to mind their own business.”
I wish you Happy Mothering!
(6-17-11 update- Annie recently experienced a miscarriage. I am saddened by her loss, but encouraged by the following words she wrote. "It leaves me with the only thing I can do. To once again hand it over to God. To accept that I cannot possibly understand the spiritual plan of my life. To accept that there are never any answers. To simply believe. To be patient.")