With women getting married later in life, having successful careers of their own and waiting to be financially secure, more and more are having babies after they turn 40. There are some medical reasons why it can be more challenging to get pregnant, most of which have to do with the ovulation cycle and how many viable eggs are being produced. However, whether you're thinking about having additional kids or this is your first, we've put together a list of 20 tips to help ensure a healthy mid-life pregnancy.
1 Keep Your Hormones in Check. Women should avoid rigorous dieting, maintain a healthy body weight and try fertility yoga to increase blood flow to reproductive areas. Taking folic acid is also recommended.
2 Have Sex. A Lot. You should be keeping a menstrual calendar to help you determine when you are ovulating. Use ovulation prediction kits or take your basal temperature to ensure that you are ovulating and then have intercourse regularly and in various positions during that period.
3 Take It Easy. Although some daily physical activity is encouraged, try to avoid heavy lifting, stairs and running when attempting to get pregnant.
4 Uterine Massage. This helps increase the blood flow to the area and could increase chances of pregnancy.
5 In Vitro Fertilization (IVF). Due to decreasing chances for natural pregnancy (after 43, chances for pregnancy drop to 1-2%, while before that they can still be up to 40-50% according to Baby Centre), many women opt for IVF for their mid-life baby.
6 Age Isn't Just a Number. Although there are plenty of examples of women experiencing healthy pregnancies throughout their 40 and even into their 50s and 60s in some cases, be aware that some clinics do have an age restriction for aided pregnancy techniques like IVF.
7 Pregnancy Calendar. This can be a great way to track your progress throughout pregnancy. There are calendars like this one from Tesco that tell you exactly what is happening with you and baby during each stage of pregnancy - down to the day! Making or consulting one can be an excellent tool for healthy pregnancy.
8 Baby Comes First. Remember that everything you put in your body will affect baby, so be sure you are eating and drinking as healthily as possible and avoiding unnecessary toxins.
9 Watch Yourself. Putting on baby weight is natural and healthy for both you and the baby. Just be sure that you monitor your intake and that you maintain healthy weight gain during pregnancy, according to what your doctor recommends.
10 First Doctor's Visit. You will receive a pelvic exam, PAP test, be weighed, measured and tested for any sexually transmitted infections. For women over 40, there are more health risks than for younger women, so be aware and keep your doctor informed of any pre-existing medical issues and be sure to have them test your blood pressure!
11 Sleep Tight. Although it can be tempting to keep working away, changing your sleep and work habits can be an essential part of healthy pregnancy after 40. Prioritize sleep and relaxation time both for yourself and for baby.
12 Pre-Eclampsia and Eclampsia . Be aware that you are at higher risk for eclampsia, which can result in swelling of the face and hands, seizures, and impairments to your nervous system.
13 Prenatal Tests. These are typically done at the end of the first trimester or entering the second and vary in what they actually test for. However, for women over 40, these are generally recommended to make parents aware of any health issues occurring with the fetus.
14 Keep It Under Wraps. This is purely up to each woman and her family, but consider keeping the pregnancy private for the first 3 months when miscarriages most often occur. Aside from emotional health considerations if something goes wrong, this time also allows you to settle in to your pregnancy and bond with baby.
15 Exercise.During the second trimester, after nausea subsides but before maternity gear is necessary, is a great time to get moving. For older women, approve acceptable forms of exercise through your doctor, but know that exercising can reduce insulin resistance and help avoid gestational diabetes.
16 Skincare. Your skin will definitely start to glow during your pregnancy, but there are other effects of increased hormone production, too, including dark spots on your cheeks and forehead, as well as possible acne breakouts. However, both fade after delivery.
17 Warning Signs. Throughout your pregnancy, watch out for vaginal bleeding, severe or continuous headaches, abdominal pain, blurry vision or vomiting and go straight to your doctor should any occur. These can be early warning signs that something isn't right.
Delivery & Post Pregnancy
18 Prep Your Maternity Leave. This is another tip for mom's mental health. Having a solid plan in place for taking time away from work and balancing the finances is key for feeling confident before delivery. Check out this discussion on Mumsnet for some further tips and dadvice.
19 Birth Plan. By delivery time a birth plan should be firmly in place. Most older mothers have a C-section, so getting that scheduled should be a top priority. If vaginal birth is approved by your doctor, ask about any risks that might be involved.
20 Cardiomyopathy. Long word, with scary consequences. There's an increased risk that mid-life mothers may get cardiomyopathy after giving birth. The condition weakens the heart and can result in lungs filled with liquid. Keep a close eye on your post-pregnancy body and make sure you check in with your doctor should you experience any issues.
Research has shown that the number of women over 40 having healthy pregnancies has increased significantly during the past 10 years. We hope these 20 tips have been helpful in keeping you safe and healthy during your after mid-life pregnancy!