advanced maternal age

Mamas on Bedrest: 1st Time Mamas over 45 Can Expect Complications

April 19th, 2011

Being an older mama myself, I am always a bit sensitive when I see reports indicating the problems and complications associated with being an older mama. So when I read this Reuter’s Health Report on Medscape my heart went out to older women desiring to and having children.

I want to add that while this report states that pregnancy is more risky for older moms, in this case, having their first child over the age of 45, it’s not impossible. Even if a woman is not able to carry her own child, there are surrogates (women who will donate an egg to a pregnancy and then carry the pregnancy) as well as gestational hosts (women who will carry a child for a couple) and adoption. Older women can have the children their hearts desire.

The study was conducted in Israel and found that pregnancy and childbirth in Israeli women over age 45 has nearly tripled over the last decade. The study looked at 131 mothers ranging in age from 45 to 65 who gave birth between 2004 and 2008. Forty percent developed gestational diabetes and 20% had preeclampsia. One third of the babies were born prematurely and nearly all were delivered by cesarean section. All but 5 of the women had become pregnant with assisted reproductive technologies.

Why is it so much more difficult to have a child,  especially a first child, over that age of 45? First and foremost there are the physiological changes going on with a woman. If a woman has never been pregnant, the quality and number of eggs that her ovaries will produce will be lowered. At 45 years old many women are approaching menopause and their bodies are responding to hormonal fluctuations. In particular, she may have uterine changes such that she is unable to sustain a pregnancy. Women are also at risk of having developed hypertension and Type II diabetes by age 45. Researchers in this study recommend counseling against pregnancy if an older woman already has a pre-existing condition.

While the researchers acknowledged the increased risk to older mothers and their babies (increased risk of being born prematurely, at a lower birth weight, requiring intensive care in NICU and having developmental problems) they did not make being over age 45 and absolute contraindication to attempting pregnancy.

I can attest to the fact that the older you are having children, the more risk there is to you and your baby. My first pregnancy at age 35 ended in miscarriage. The second was high risk,  fraught with complications and resulted in my daughter being born at 36 weeks and 6 days at 5 lbs 3 oz. I miscarried my 3rd pregnancy at age 38 and had my son, my 4th and last pregnancy at 40 yrs and 4 months. So I was not as old as the women in the study in Israel yet did experience more complications than women say 5-10 years younger than I was at each age. If I had it all to do over again, would I? Absolutely, but I have to admit that I would do it a lot smarter.

Before each pregnancy I would engage in a 3 month pre-conception “conditioning program” where I’d take exquisite care of myself; priming my body with exceptional herbs and supplements, getting lots of rest, making sure that I was at ideal body weight for my height and that I was fibroid free.  In preparation for complications, I’d have a support system in place-either my mother, mother in law or friends in the community at the ready and available to assist me with my activities (especially with my second/fourth pregnancy with my son where I had a 3 1/2 year old to take care of as well).

As the saying goes, hindsight is 20/20. I didn’t do any of these things, but I made it my mission to do for other women what I did not do for myself and hence Bedrest Fitness and Mamas on Bedrest & Beyond were created. If you are an older woman and have decided to pursue pregnancy, we would love to support you in your endeavors. So that we can assist you to plan your pregnancy and (hopefully ) avoid bed rest or at the very least, minimize the trauma/drama, sign up for a Complimentary 30 minute Bedrest Breakthrough Session. We’ll go over potential pitfalls of being an older pregnant mama and offer tips to minimize them.To schedule, send an e-mail to info@mamasonbedrest.com.

While complications are expected the older a mama is having her babies, they aren’t mandatory and they don’t  have to be horrendous.  As researchers in the Israeli study pointed out, “Starting motherhood at an advanced age may carry risks, but they’re not prohibitive risks. People of all ages are interested in having a child and completing their families.”

Original Article:
Primiparity at Very Advanced Maternal Age (≥45 years)
Saralee Glasser, Aliza Segev-Zahav, Paige Fortinsky, Debby Gedal-Beer, Eyal Schiff and Liat Lerner-Geva
Fertility and Sterility Available online 31 March 2011,

Bedrest Coach Darline Turner-Lee had her daughter at age 37 and son at age 40.