The prospect of parenthood is an exciting one. However, it also comes with its fair share of anxiety. And this is especially true for women that have decided to have a baby later in life. But studies show that older mothers today observe better health behaviours during pregnancy, are more socioeconomically advantaged, and seem to be happier after childbearing. Furthermore, the children of older parents in high-income countries have better health and educational outcomes. So there’s lots of good news about having a baby later in life!
Before you conceive
Before trying to conceive it’s important to do a little bit of housekeeping -the pre-pregnancy type of housekeeping. For example:
- Set up a preconception appointment with your doctor. The sooner you have this appointment the better. Preconception appointments are a great opportunity to go over your medical history with your doctor and get on top of any health issues that may arise over the course of your pregnancy.
- Start your prenatal vitamins. The ideal time to do this is while you’re trying to conceive. Taking vitamins early in the process gives your body the nutrients it needs when it needs them. This is crucial for those early weeks of pregnancy.
- Get help if you’re having problems conceiving. Fertility declines with age and this is true as women reach their forties. So your threshold for flagging up any potential problems should be low. Women who are 40 and older are advised to speak to their doctors within the first few months of trying to conceive if they haven’t had success yet.
After you’re pregnant
Congratulations on the pregnancy! If you’ve reached this important milestone then its time to think about having a safe and successful pregnancy. Here are a few tips to help you reach that goal:
- Be sure to keep all of your prenatal appointments. It’s important not to skip any of these as they’re designed to help monitor your health and that of your baby’s.
- If you haven’t already, start paying attention to what you’re eating. Nutrition plays a huge role in all pregnancies. Stick to fruits, veggies, grains and foods high in protein. Avoid sugary, pre-packaged foods where possible.
- Be aware of symptoms: Women above the age of 40 are at an increased risk of developing certain pregnancy complications such as preeclampsia (high blood pressure in pregnancy) and gestational diabetes. Although you will be screened for these conditions as part of routine testing, it’s still helpful to be aware of symptoms. These include:
- -blurry vision
- -chest pain
Don’t hesitate to speak to your midwife or healthcare provider if you experience any of the above.
- Birth planning. Have you thought about the type of birth you’ll be having? Is there a chance you’ll be scheduled for a planned c-section? Discuss all options with your doctor. Knowing what to expect will help put your mind at ease and lessen your anxiety over the course of your pregnancy.
- Lastly, it’s never too early to pack your hospital bag or pay a visit to the hospital you intend to deliver. Additionally do some research about pain relief options that are available to you and discuss them in depth with your doctor.
The number of women having babies in their forties is on the rise. And the overwhelming majority of women will go on to have safe, happy and healthy pregnancies. Use some of the tips above to help guide you through your own pregnancy journey.