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During the more than twenty years I have worked as an OB/GYN I have guided mothers from the age of thirteen to fifty-three through the process of conception to childbirth. If I haven’t seen it all, I think it’s fair to say that I’ve seen a lot.
As a fifty year-old father of five, with three children having been born during my forties, I have a very personal appreciation for the issues relating to childbirth later in life.
There are some inescapable facts related to later pregnancy that should be noted. Studies suggest that good outcomes can be realized in women over forty-five or even fifty, but that the likelihood of certain complications is much higher. Such complications include higher rate of miscarriage, ectopic pregnancy, fetal chromosomal abnormalities, congenital anomalies, placental abnormalities, gestational diabetes, hypertension, cesarean sections, increased risk of preterm deliveries and perinatal mortality.
These are simply facts, and should not be taken as an indictment of, or editorial against, older women becoming pregnant and giving birth.
In fact, older women enjoy certain advantages over their younger counterparts in coping with the stresses and risks associated with childbirth.
Older OB patients are more likely to be well prepared for the experience of pregnancy and childbirth, including all possible outcomes. They are often better informed, financially stable, partnered, and generally wiser about life. This allows them to better deal with the increased risks of later pregnancy, and cope with poor or difficult results when necessary.
Whereas younger patients tend to react to circumstances as they arise, older patients use their knowledge and preparation—in conjunction with their doctor’s guidance—to create and follow a plan for their pregnancy. An older patient’s birthing plan usually includes pain management and informed options for dealing with various contingencies.
Perhaps the greatest advantage that older patients hold over younger mothers-to-be is resiliency. The kind of strength and wisdom unique to mature women is of necessity called upon to prepare, plan, and cope with the added risks of later pregnancy.
For this reason, more older women are experiencing successful pregnancies and the fulfillment they can bring at a vital stage of life.
Notes for this blog:
DR. BILL CHUN. Over the past 25 years, Dr Bill Chun has been a practicing OBGYN most recently in a private practice setting in Lawrence, MA.
Dr. Chun’s role as a physician, advisor, coach and caregiver to women has given him unique insight into the challenges women face as they transition into middle age. His career as a physician and his interactions with his patients has driven him to create the Haja for Life social network, an online community designed to harness the power of collaboration to improve the wellness of women over 40.
As founder and Chairman of the Board, Dr Chun oversees the Board of Directors and Technical Advisory Board to ensure the proper governance of the company and to provide the vision for the many online tools, content and programs that members can access free of charge.
Dr. Chun is a graduate of Ohio State University of Medicine and a member of the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology.
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