Thursday, October 15, 2009

Giving Birth After the Age of Forty

Becoming pregnant after the age of forty does not have to be a worrisome thing. A woman’s body is made to carry a pregnancy. A healthy older woman should be able to enjoy and carry full term a pregnancy with only a little more care than a younger woman.

The first thing to realize is that a lot of people are going to want to tell the older mother all kinds of dire stories, especially about Down Syndrome. Learn to turn a deaf ear. Look around you, and see if you don’t see just as many Down syndrome children born to younger women as you do in older. And realize that a handicapped child is not the end of the world. In any birth there is a chance of all kinds of handicaps or problems that usually never happen. I have never met a parent of a Down’s child who didn’t think their child was wonderful!

You will be besieged by your doctor and even most midwives to have genetic testing. Make your decision based on what you are comfortable with. People went many years without all the testing, and did just as well. The tests are there if you want them. If you don’t, it’s okay to say no. It’s your body and your pregnancy.

Pay attention to your diet and your weight. The hardest part of being pregnant after 40 is your energy level. Don’t feel guilty putting your feet up and taking as many naps a day as your body is telling you need. You will feel better if you rest.

The last month or so will probably be hard, as your older body tries to support the weight of the baby. After pulling out my back during the last three weeks of my last pregnancy (and seventh child) at the age of 42, I learned to do this: watch the clock. Every time the minute hand reached the hour, get up for 15 minutes, and do as much as you can around the house. Once the 15 minutes is up, lay back down for 45 minutes. You can do just about anything for 15 minutes. Have a lot of handwork, hobbies, or anything else you can do from a sitting or laying position. You can be productive, even lying down. If you homeschool your older children, they can sit around you to school.
And if you have a friend, older child or husband who wants to help you, let them! This is one time in your life that it is certainly okay to be pampered. And it will be over eventually, and you can offer to help someone else. Take advantage of anyone who wants to bless you.

One of the nicest things about being an older expectant and new mother is that you are mature enough to realize that nothing last forever. The pregnancy will end. The day will come when your labor starts, and you will deliver your baby. As a mature mother, you will most likely be so ready for this. The moment of meeting your child, face to face, will be well worth any discomfort you went through during the pregnancy.

A mature mother may also be able to handle the night time feedings better, too. As we get older, we don’t always seem to need as much sleep. We know that, yes, we may be tired tomorrow, and yet tomorrow will come without a doubt, and we will get through it. Once again, eat well, and eat lighter foods that won’t weigh you down and make your sleepiness worse. Drink a lot of liquids, they are essential to a nursing mother, and will help keep your energy level up. This is another one of those times that don’t last forever. Cherish those times up with your newborn. They are good prayer times. Don’t be afraid to lay down in the recliner and rest and sleep at night while baby nurses. Put pillows under your arms to support them and hold baby in place. And take naps during the day when the baby naps. The housework, without a doubt, will wait for you.

Older parenting is a blessing. I often tell my children that the older ones got the mother with all the energy, while the younger ones got the mother with the wisdom. An older mother is more confident and patient many times, having learned that a child is not a child forever, and that some things are just more important, or not as important, as we thought they were when we were young adults. Enjoy your fertility; it’s another one of those things that doesn’t last forever!

1 comment:

  1. Loved this one. Thank you for you "older" wisdom. -beth


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