Tag Archives: pre-conception care

The Effects of Age on Pregnancy and Birth

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Last year, I was contacted by Amy Herring, an eighteen year old student studying for her A Levels in Biology, History and Maths. She has applied to study Midwifery at University this coming September, and in relation to this goal, she has completed a research project on the effects of age on pregnancy and birth. I was immediately interested by the subject matter of her research.

Amy chose to write about the effects of age on the pregnancy continuum because as someone aspiring to be a midwife, to support a woman and her family through any situation, she wanted to broaden her knowledge in advance of starting her training; to prepare herself for the many different situations she is likely to encounter. She is particularly interested in pregnancy in older women as this is becoming more common in the UK for a variety of reasons. Amy feels that although pregnancy in older women poses its possible risks, it’s an option that all women should feel they are able to consider. In her opinion, midwives and other health professionals should present women and their families with their options in a way they can understand.

Amy’s research tested the hypothesis, ‘Is there an optimum age, that is not too old or not too young, for women to bear children’. To calculate the optimum age window, she made comparisons between ‘young mums’ (women aged under 18), ‘older mums’ (women aged 35 and over) and the ‘middle’ category mums, those falling between the two extreme categories; her argument being that mothers outside the optimum age window may have troublesome pregnancies, possibly resulting in complications in utero or a baby that experiences difficulties.

Amy’s research looked at conception and birth statistics, childhood data, data she collected from a ‘Bosom Buddies’ breastfeeding class, the lifestyle choices of women and the prevalence of pre-existing health conditions. Amy used many studies; these studies showed that older mums are more likely to experience complications such as gestational diabetes, placenta praevia and pre-eclampsia, and are more at risk from ectopic pregnancies and miscarriage. However, it is important to realise that Amy’s research was not complete; as she concludes: “Items have been cited in this project as needing more research; for example factors other than age, such as marital status, and how these affect outcomes.”

The research concluded that women in the ‘middle’ category – aged between 25 and 35 –   have the healthiest and safest pregnancies, for both the women and the babies. The older a woman becomes, the greater her risk of a pre-existing condition affecting her and her foetuses wellbeing. The exceptions to this are epilepsy, where women of 35 have the lowest risk and asthma, which affects women in the ‘middle’ category most commonly. Although Amy comes to this conclusion, she mentions in her project that older women do have factors which could make their pregnancy and birth more successful such as life experience and a more stable environment in which to raise a child.

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Older Mums thoughts…

So what does this mean for older women who have not settled down with a partner yet? One word stands out; HEALTH. For any woman wishing to conceive over the age of 35, just as I did, physical, emotional and mental health have to be top priorities. No smoking. No drinking. Plenty of exercise (and meditation to reduce stress levels). A well balanced diet, as much organic food as possible. Lots of rest and relaxation. I think there are many women out there who would ideally love to conceive at the ‘optimum age’ but can’t due to many reasons beyond their control; no partner, not feeling emotionally or psychologically ready (as I did), career demands. There are many many reasons as to why a woman may want to conceive later in life. Amy realises that a woman’s choice is an important factor in this decision. Society needs to accommodate this factor and all others, the world is not as it was, women are having children later, and this is something that won’t change.

Physical risks aside, there are many positives older women have in becoming a parent later in life; maturity, life experience, financial stability, older mothers tend to be in a solid relationship, all factors which can only contribute to the upbringing of a well adjusted, happy child. At the end of the day, we are talking about the raising of confident, secure human beings, and that is an issue which lies at the door of parenting, not age.

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I would like to thank Amy for sending me her research. It is important to be educated on the physical risks of pregnancy, and reminded of the importance of a healthy lifestyle and diet when considering becoming pregnant. I have a strong hunch Amy is going to make a great mid wife.

Amy’s research, The Effects of Age on Pregnancy and Birth, is protected under the Copyright of oldermum.co.uk. All rights reserved. 

 

How I Boosted My Fertility Naturally at 42

Claudia Spahr, traveller, yogini, author and journalist, is the brains behind the acclaimed pregnancy manual, ‘Right Time Baby – The Complete Guide to Later Motherhood’. Additionally her excellent website houses a really informative blog discussing all things later motherhood. Here, she talks about her journey into parenthood and how a healthy lifestyle impacted on her conceiving at 42.

Enjoy …..

HOW I BOOSTED MY FERTILITY NATURALLY AT 42.

I’m an older mum for many of the typical reasons. I met Mr put-a-ring-on-it in my late thirties after years of going out with dysfunctional, commitment-phobic, substance-abusing men, who were nowhere near ready to have children. Of course I wasn’t ready either in my twenties and early thirties. It was all about me.com. All about my career, my travels around the world, my journey of self discovery and my healing.
I had so much growing to do before I could become the mother I’m now able to be for the children I was meant to have.

I had my first child shortly before turning 40 – a bouncy gorgeous boy who’s nearly four now. He was 2 years old when I felt ready to start trying for a second baby. I’d just finished writing a book on later motherhood and was keen to try out all the pre-conception measures on myself. At 42 I actually felt better and more vibrant than I did at 32. Partly thanks to a healthier diet and lifestyle. During the research for my book I got into nutrition, big time. We’re talking anoraks and train-spotters. We’re talking drive your husband crazy with food-talk. I decided to try out what I was discovering about fertility foods. So the first thing I did was detox.

Toxins produce acidity in the body and upset the fine balance of the hormones needed for reproduction. Pesticides, environmental toxins, synthetic hormones and water additives can all cause problems, if you’re trying to conceive. Also toxic heavy metals can pass directly from the mother to her foetus, so it’s a good idea to detox three months before trying to get pregnant. For my detox I juiced and took zeolite. This can reduce toxins by 100% if you do it for a week or two. My husband detoxed more gently by eating raw and steamed veg for a week. Studies show that men who eat a lot of processed meats, fast foods and junk foods have low sperm quality. Male sperm counts have halved since the introduction of industrial farming with nearly 50% of the male population today showing reduced sperm motility. An interesting comparison is that organic farmers are shown to have very potent sperm counts of over 5 times the average.

In my early thirties I loved fancy cocktails and fine wine but since becoming a mum and breastfeeding I hardly drink anymore. To prepare for conception I cut out alcohol entirely. So did my husband. Drinking more than three units of alcohol a week has been shown to prevent conception taking place. Even binge drinking will affect sperm and eggs for three months. Luckily neither of us drinks much coffee or smoke because both these stimulants have also been clearly linked to lower conception and higher miscarriage rates.

The next step for boosting our fertility was getting a personal nutrient analysis done, via a hair strand sample. You can do this at various places. We chose Foresight Preconception in the UK where two large, long-term studies involving hundreds of couple have been carried out. The studies showed that a preconception care programme involving changes to diet and lifestyle, enabled 89% of couples to give birth, including 81% of those who had suffered infertility for up to ten years. These success rates are over three times higher than the average IVF clinic. The miscarriage rate was practically zero.

Based on the results from the hair strand analysis I stocked up on nutrient-dense food by eating plenty of wholefoods (rather than processed), organic fruit and vegetables and food rich in essential fatty acids and anti-oxidants. I sprouted alfafa and chia seeds and made myself fruit and veg smoothies with superfoods such as maca. I also ate a lot of salads and raw food. The most important fertility vitamins and minerals are the B vitamins, vitamins A, C and E, folic acid, calcium, iron, magnesium, selenium and zinc. I did take some vitamin supplements but it’s always better to get them via real food. I also made sure I was drinking plenty of water.

The next pre-conception measure involved a bit of exercise. At the time I was running a yoga resort in India so it was easy to do lots of yoga, which I love. As well as calming the mind, yoga is a wonderful tonic for the internal organs. It’s important for conception to get oxygenated blood flowing to the reproductive area. I had some massages and acupuncture to support this and strengthen my Qi (flow of life energy). I was told by the therapist to breathe deeply into my belly for a few minutes every night before going to sleep. I’m convinced this helped me get pregnant.

Even though I was 42, an age where most doctors wrongly say you have a 5% chance of getting pregnant, I felt that I would have another baby. This is an important aspect because science is proving that our health is largely determined by our thoughts and emotions. It’s been shown that positive thoughts, affirmations and visualisations create neural connections that lead the body to believe something is true. I genuinely   believed I would get pregnant when the time was right and trusted this belief. Belief is the basically the body’s strongest medicine. For every emotion or thought the body has a matching chemistry. So you can have life-affirming chemistry or life-denying chemistry flowing through your veins.

I had actually been diagnosed with a large cyst on my right ovary about six months earlier. The gynaecologist said this would greatly reduce my chances of getting pregnant and that the cyst may have to be removed surgically. Even though I saw the cyst during a scan, I never actually believed it was there. I never gave it attention or thought “Oh poor me”. Throughout my yoga practice and meditation I focused on being strong and healthy and fertile. I told my body it was getting ready to grow a baby. And sure enough, a few months later the cyst had disappeared and I got pregnant. My second child is nine months old now and brings so much joy to my life daily. I’ll be 44 this year and still feeling broody. Maybe in a year or two I might try for a third child. I sincerely believe that as long as you’re menstruating you can get pregnant. The key to having a healthy baby is in your diet, lifestyle and mindset.

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As well as Claudia’s book, you’ll also find further information on pre-conception care here.