Pregnancy is an exciting time in a woman’s life. However, with that excitement often comes a lot of questions and concerns. These days, it is not uncommon for women to choose to have children in midlife. Oh my, how times have changed! In this post, I would like to address some of the more complex issues that may arise for women expecting a baby in midlife.
Concerns about Midlife Pregnancy
More and more people are putting off having children until their careers have been well established, which is why we are seeing more midlife pregnancies. There are different concerns surrounding midlife pregnancies than there are for younger women, however, the good news is that healthcare professionals are better prepared to deal with these concerns than they’ve ever been before. Below are some of the concerns surrounding midlife pregnancies.
- Genetic Problems – Many believe that women who have children when they are over the age of 40 are more likely to have babies that contract a genetic disorder. As a result, most doctors provide their patients the ability to have genetic testing done early in the pregnancy to rule out a number of genetic problems that the baby may have.
While some of the genetic testing is done by drawing blood, another method called amniocentesis actually pulls samples of the amniotic fluid to test. This is generally done anywhere between 15 to 18 weeks.
Some believe that the procedure can cause an early labor or miscarriage, but others believe it is a safe procedure. The decision on whether or not you wish to have either of these tests done is completely up to you.
- Risks – There are risks for every pregnancy, but there are some unique risks for midlife pregnancies. They include:
- Cancer – While pregnancy has not been proven to cause cancer, it can be caused by fertility treatments which are often used by women to get pregnant during their later years.
- Cardiomyopathy – This is a heart disorder that has occurred to postpartum women. While it can happen to any woman who has recently had a baby, the risk is greater for older mothers. It happens with the heart muscle changes from pregnancy (weakens, stiffens and/or thickens).
- Gestational Diabetes – Again, gestational diabetes is a disorder that knows no age, but older women are more prone to acquiring it than younger women.
- Placenta Previa – Placenta Previa is a disorder that occurs when the placenta doesn’t move away from cervical area. Instead, the placenta forms close to the uterus mouth which can lead to cramping, bleeding and premature labor. This is another condition that older women have a great risk of contracting.
- Pre-eclampsia – Pre-eclampsia is a condition that is very serious for pregnant women. While women over the age of 40 have a greater risk for contracting the condition, first-time moms also have a high risk. Thus, if you’re a first-time mother older than 40, you need to be on the lookout for the signs of this disorder.
- C-Section – Anyone can have a c-section, but they are much more common (for medical reasons) among mothers above the age of 40.
- Reducing Risks – Believe it or not, there is something you can do to help reduce the chances of going through any of the conditions above during your pregnancy. The key is to maintain a nutritious and healthy lifestyle. If you smoke, you need to quit immediately. And, you need to start eating foods that are healthy.
Additionally, you need to take a prenatal vitamin on a daily basis, and maybe even a couple other nutrients. Ask your doctor if there is any additional supplement he feels you should be taking. Also, do not drink alcoholic beverages while pregnant.
You’re Pregnant! How Do We Tell the Kids?
After you found out you were pregnant, you and your spouse probably began thinking about how you were going to break the news to the rest of the family…especially your children. Obviously, you should think everything through very carefully before making any announcement to your kids. Below are a few suggestions to help you out.
Ages 5 and Below – Telling very young children (under the age of five) that you are going to have a baby may not have much of an impact on them. They’re so young that they may not understand what that means right away. Therefore, you will most likely have to keep talking about it as time goes on. Below are a few ideas:
- Talk about their birth. Young children love to hear stories that they can relate to. So, why not talk to them about the day they were born and what all happened (keep it age-appropriate). Once you tell them about their birth, you can begin talking about the new baby’s upcoming birth.
- Books and videos about babies. Young children also enjoy reading books and watching videos. Therefore, pick up some from the store that involve babies to help them get ready for having a baby in the house. It’s also a good idea to read books to them that talk about what it means to be a big brother or sister.
- Be excited about the baby. Whenever you do talk about the new baby to your kids, be excited about it. Young children play off of their parents’ emotions. Therefore, make sure you’re always referring to the new baby in a positive way.
- Get out the scrapbooks. Show your kids pictures of them when they were a baby and talk about how little they once were and everything that had to be done to take care of them. This will help your little ones connect with the unborn baby and learn about how babies need to be cared for.
Kids in Gradeschool – Children over the age of 5 can be a little bit trickier to prepare for the birth of a new baby. Therefore, you may need to be a little bit more creative in your approach. Here are a few ideas:
- Celebrate the news. Consider throwing a small family party to announce the news. Perhaps you could have a cake made or a sign with the announcement. However, you choose to do it, make sure you celebrate!
- Make it a game. Gradeschool age children love playing games, so you and your spouse could have a treasure hunt planned out and the “treasure” is the announcement (followed by ice cream of course). As part of the hunt, you could have them stumble upon clues like baby bottles, baby clothes, etc.
Junior High and High School Kids – Believe it or not, this age group can actually be easier to tell than younger kids. First of all, they are old enough to understand without asking you a lot of questions and they may even enjoy helping you prepare for the birth…as well as care for the baby once he/she is born. However, keep in mind that this is an “emotional” age and so they may not respond exactly as you planned.
- Tell them privately. Don’t make a big announcement in front of a lot of people without telling your kids first. For older kids, it’s best to sit down with them privately and break the news to them so they don’t feel pressured to act a particular way once they hear the news.
- Consider writing it down. You know your child better than anyone. If your child is one who responds better to letters than in-person conversations, consider writing a letter announcing the news, but tell your child that you would like to discuss it in person when he/she is ready.