There is not an expectant mother alive who hasn’t had some anxiety about her baby’s health. She wonders whether her baby will be born healthy. Thoughts that never entered her mind are present.
Movies, books, television, the nosy woman in the hair salon tell birth horror stories that increase a pregnant woman’s anxiety. Combine all of this with the hormone changes that take place in the body during pregnancy, and it’s a wonder that any woman survives pregnancy with her sanity in tact.
An expectant mom over 35 is hit with a double dose of anxiety. She worries about her baby’s health and worries about the role her age will play in her baby’s health.
Here are eight guidelines to ease your mind and to help you achieve a healthy midlife pregnancy:
1. Choose an obstetrician or midwife who doesn’t view midlife pregnancy as a problem.
Ask if your prospective health care provider 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.
Your health care provider may be concerned that collectively the medical history of pregnant women over age 35 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.
2. Diet matters. A pregnant woman needs an extra 300 calories a day. You can get these calories by eating a variety of foods that are high in protein, calcium and iron.
To prevent bacteria and parasites that could be harmful to your unborn baby, avoid unpasteurized milk or soft cheeses and undercooked or raw meat, fish, shellfish or eggs. Also, wash all fresh fruits thoroughly before eating.
You’ll need to increase your intake of protein and folic acid. Protein is crucial for the development of all new cells. A minimum of 60 grams per day is needed for the physical and cellular development of your baby.
Taking a multivitamin supplement that includes 400 micrograms of folic acid daily is beneficial to a pregnant woman as well as all women of childbearing age. Folic acid helps in the developing the spinal cord and the brain of an unborn baby.
During pregnancy curb your craving for caffeine. Consumed in large quantities, caffeine can cause irritability, nervousness and insomnia as well as low birth-weight babies.
Some studies show that caffeine intake during pregnancy can harm the fetus. Other studies state there’s no proof that small amounts of caffeine cause problems during pregnancy. Until more conclusive studies are done you may want to limit your caffeine intake while pregnant.
3. No to alcohol. No one knows how much alcohol a woman has to consume to put herself at risk for a miscarriage or her baby at risk for fetal alcohol syndrome.
Fetal alcohol syndrome may include mental and growth retardation, facial malformations, liver and kidney abnormalities.
Because there is such uncertainty surrounding the level of alcohol consumption and pregnancy, most health care providers recommended that pregnant women avoid alcohol.
4. Stop smoking. Smoking during pregnancy puts your baby at risk. Smoking while pregnant reduces the amount of oxygen delivered to your baby, which may impair the growth of your baby resulting in a greater chance of having a premature or too small baby.
Smoking increases your risk of miscarriage, vaginal bleeding and infant death.
5. Legal and Illegal drugs- Some medications are not safe for a pregnant woman. You should review all drugs including prescriptions, over-the-counter and herbal medications with your physician before, during and after pregnancy.
Illegal drugs can kill your future and the future of your baby. If you are addicted, find a support group or treatment.
6. Exercise regularly after checking with your health care provider.
Never begin an exercise program without first checking with your doctor. Exercise is a good way to get and keep your body in shape. Exercise also relieves stress during pregnancy.
7. Get more rest. The body goes through many physical and emotional changes during pregnancy. Fatigue is common discomfort of pregnancy. Listen to your body. Rest whenever possible. Stop or cut back on many activities that sap your strength.
8. Limit your contact with negative folks. All expectant moms, regardless of age, run into unwanted advice about everything from clothing to weight.
As a mom over 35 you will run into people who applaud your decision to give birth later to people who tell you outright that you are too old to have a baby.
The key is not in what others say but in how you react and believe the message they are saying. Like a soldier who puts on her physical attire for combat you must put on your mental gear to protect negativity from penetrating your spirits. Most of all enjoy your pregnancy!