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|30-3-2012 - Older and Pregnant: Tips for 9 Months of Good Health
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Are you a woman who is older…and pregnant? Congratulations! While there are plenty of statistics out there to remind you of the risks and challenges you face with an “older pregnancy,” you may have trouble finding helpful information about how you can minimize those risks and enjoy your pregnancy.
It is true, if you are pregnant at age 35 or older, you face a greater risk of pregnancy complications that you and your Ob-Gyn will have to guard against and monitor. While you should be aware of these potential risks, you can still have a stress-free nine months. Try not to over-anticipate potential complications (this, in itself, can be a source of stress). Get early and regular prenatal care, take steps to maintain optimal health, listen to the advice of your doctor and follow these tips for a healthy pregnancy.Tips for a Healthy 9 Months:
• Vitamins and nutrition
–To guard against neural tube defects, take daily vitamins with folic acid and eat foods that are rich in folic acid (whole grains, leafy green vegetables, oranges and fortified cereals).
• Don’t drink alcohol, period.
• Don’t smoke, and avoid exposure to second-hand smoke.
• Don’t take any drugs, even over-the-counter medications and herbs, without the advice of your doctor.
• Don’t touch your kitty’s litter box, as this can be a source of toxoplasmosis, which causes birth defects. Undercooked meats are another source of this bacterium, so make sure your meats are “well done.”
• Avoid fish, particularly those high in mercury (tuna, swordfish, shark, tilefish and king mackerel).
• Avoid deli meats, soft cheeses and unpasteurized dairy products as these can carry Listeria, a bacterium that can lead to miscarriage and other problems.
Often, older mothers will have to undergo more testing and monitoring during their pregnancies than younger mothers do. These tests are merely precautionary measures for all older mothers to help reassure you and your health care providers that everything is on track.
Some of the potential complications older moms will be screened for include:Hypertension
– If you get pregnant in your mid-thirties or later, you run a greater risk of getting high blood pressure. Your Ob-Gyn can suggest a special diet and exercise program that ensures good nutrition and helps reduce your risk. Gestational Diabetes
– Gestational diabetes is more likely in older women, particularly if you are overweight or gain too much weight with your pregnancy. To reduce your risk, try to lose any extra weight before getting pregnant, and maintain a healthy weight throughout your pregnancy. You should also be monitored closely for early signs of this problem throughout your pregnancy, and make any needed adjustments to your diet.C-Section
– Perhaps due to a great number of placental problems, or because labor tends to take longer for older women, your chance of delivering via cesarean section is greater past age 35. However, a C-section need not be cause for alarm as it is a measure taken to ensure the health and safety of you and your baby.Miscarriage and Early Delivery
– After age 35, the likelihood of miscarriage rises to 18 percent. Follow your doctor’s guidelines for any activities to avoid during your pregnancy, and ask whether bed rest is recommended to help avoid miscarriage or a premature delivery.Birth Defects
– Women who get pregnant after age 35 have a greater risk of giving birth to a child with some birth defect, genetic or otherwise. It is helpful to remember that, apart from an increased risk for chromosomal abnormalities, a majority of babies born to older mothers are perfectly healthy. Speak with your Ob-Gyn about any genetic or other tests you can safely take before or during pregnancy.Twins or Triplets
– The chances of having multiple births in your late thirties and beyond are higher, possibly due to the increased hormonal stimulation of your ovaries as you age. This can also occur as a result of fertility drugs, which can stimulate your ovaries to produce more eggs. Many older mothers view giving birth to multiples as an asset rather than a risk – the gift of an “instant family” in later years when the prospect of a second pregnancy is less likely.
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