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Over 40 Pregnancies Require Planning
By Roberta Renzelli-Cain, D.O., MHS, and Merrideth Leggat, M.D.

Women who delay pregnancy until after age 40 have many reasons for their decisions. Some wait in hopes of finding stability in their careers, relationships or finances. These mature women are well informed and eager to do the best for their babies.

Not all over-40 pregnancies are high risk. For the most part, things go fine. But if you are planning a late pregnancy, especially if it is your first time, you should discuss it with your OB-GYN before conception. Chromosome disorders, such as Down syndrome, are more common with advanced maternal age. By age 45, the risk of conceiving a child with Down syndrome is 1 in 25. In-utero tests during fetus development can help parents fully understand their situation.

Some medical conditions are possible with any pregnancy, but are more common among older mothers. Your OB/GYN can help you manage depression, anxiety, gestational diabetes, hypertension, pre-eclampsia and HELLP syndrome. The risk of miscarriage also increases for those over 40.

Get Healthy First
You should start your pregnancy in optimal health and weight. Obesity makes it hard to conceive and complicates pregnancy. It can be harder to lose “baby weight” when you are over 40.

You and your doctor should review your diet before you stop using birth control. Some women need to add vitamins (especially folic-acid) and adjust medications that could affect the fetus. Supplemental calcium supports bone strength.

Exercise and Diet
At For Women we counsel patients on how to safely exercise. Exercise reduces stress, regulates weight gain and supports fetal development. Those who learn breathing skills in Yoga classes are well set for childbirth.

And no matter what your mother says, you are not eating for two. A piece of fruit and some lean protein will provide the extra 300 to 400 calories you need each day. Obesity can also increase risk of cesarean section Certain foods should be avoided during pregnancy. At For Women we use a holistic, multi-disciplinary approach to make pregnancy a wonderful experience at any age.

Dr. Roberta Renzelli-Cain and Dr. Merrideth Leggat are with For Women Obstetrics and Gynecology, located at Canonsburg General Hospital, Center for Women’s Health, Canonsburg, PA and Peters Township Outpatient Care Center, McMurray, PA. Please call (724) 884-0898 to schedule an appointment.

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