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Older Moms-to-Be: Get Informed, Not Obsessed

by Jane Wangersky | August 16th, 2012 | Pregnancy

As I wrote last time, a pregnant woman over the age of 35 finds herself being treated a little differently from a younger mother-to-be. Though a little more caution is warranted in a pregnancy at this age, it can also be annoying or, worse, a source of anxiety.

A 2009 article in the Open Nursing Journal (“A Review of Pregnancy in Women Over 35”, by Reeta Lampinen, Katri Vehvilainen-Julkunen, and Paivi Kankkunen of the University of Kuopio, Finland), which looked at recent studies, confirms this: “[P]regnant women over 35 years old sometimes felt they had too much information concerning age-related pregnancy risk and fetal disorders, which made them anxious and made it difficult for them to focus on positive outcomes. However, these women still wanted to be as fully-informed as possible.” What’s more, healthcare providers “presume” that older women want all this information.

Ultimately, it’s the woman herself who has to draw the line between being informed about the risks and obsessing over them. How can you do this for yourself? Here’s what (more or less) worked for me.

Don’t ignore the statistics on risks — you may just start imagining them as worse than they are.

Don’t keep the statistics in the front of your mind, either. “Anecdotal evidence” is often looked down on, but it can be a real comfort to have another older mother’s positive story to focus on. And there are plenty of these stories.

Look back on your life. You’ve likely handled job loss, breakups, and deaths in the family. While a difficult outcome to your pregnancy can be tougher than any of those, you can handle that, too.

Focus on your life in the present — family, work, outside interests, anything that connects you to others. Though there’ll be lots of times the world seems to shrink down to just you and the baby, staying active in other areas is good for both of you.

Get as much exercise as you can. It’s the best way to work off tension and help you get as much sleep as you can.

When these and other elements of your life are in place, the uncertainties in having a baby after 35 usually seem manageable.

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