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Thirty-two year old Tricia Fitzgerald—a Certified HypnoBirthing Practitioner and Labor Doula who founded Chicago’s Gentle Beginning, Inc. (see link below)—has serious concerns about how over-40 mothers are “managed” by the existing medical establishment.
Fitzgerald, who also has an M.Ed. and is a member of the Adjunct Faculty in the School of Education at DePaul University, says that while she does not see over-40 women as having any “inherent” problems with pregnancy or birth, many doctors and nurses do.
“Women aged 35 and over are being labeled ‘advanced maternal age,’” she says, “and are pressured to have extensive prenatal testing and often genetic counseling.”
“In my observations,” continues Fitzgerald, “the induction and C-section rates are significantly higher for over 40 moms who are using an obstetrician in the Chicagoland area.”
Fitzgerald, herself a mother of four, has seen an increasing number of later life mothers in her HypnoBirthing classes with, on average, two out of every five couples consisting of a woman over 40.
“The trend for moms to have their babies after 40 has increased in the last five years, certainly in the area where I live” she says. “I attend at least one birth per month with an over-40 mom.”
Fitzgerald has also noticed an increase in the “use of natural means for conceiving after the age of 40, such as the use of acupuncture and hypnosis.”
In her observations of over-40 mothers versus younger ones, she’s had some illuminating experiences.
“While I don’t think that I can make a sweeping generalization about the overall attitude of over 40 mothers, I have noticed they are usually very self assured and confident in who they are and what they desire for their pregnancies and births.”
Yet, giving birth can be an especially humbling experience for women who’ve spent their careers ‘being in charge.’
“While over 40 moms bring a wealth of life experiences into their pregnancies,” warns Tricia, “this can also serve as an obstacle for some women if some of their life experiences have created fear or anxiety surrounding pregnancy, birth and/or parenting.”
She recalls attending the birth of “a healthy baby boy,” where the first-time mother was in her forties and the father in his sixties.
“The mom commented to me that she had achieved so much in her life through her career, friendships, and marriage, but she never could have guessed how vulnerable she would feel during labor, or how giving birth would ultimately become the greatest accomplishment of her life.”
Fitzgerald is quick to point out that the purpose of Gentle Beginning Inc. (http://www NULL.chicagohypnodoula NULL.com/) is to help women have calm and peaceful births where they feel empowered to make truly informed choices and decisions for themselves and their babies.
“I believe that low-risk over-40 moms should ideally be encouraged to seek out prenatal care and birthing support through the midwifery model of care at home or in a birthing center,” she says, in defiance of the overweening fears induced by the ruling medical moguls.
“If, for some reason, an over-40 mom needs to birth in the medical model in the hospital, I feel that doctors and nurses need to stop treating over 40 moms like ‘a train wreck waiting to happen.’”
“All moms should be treated with respect and dignity, no matter their age.”
Notes for this blog:
Tricia Fitzgerald, M.Ed, HBCE, CD(DONA) is a member of the Adjunct Faculty, School of Education, DePaul University
She is founder of :
Gentle Beginning, Inc., Child and Family Advocacy-Pregnancy and Childbirth Services, Parenting Education and Support-Early Childhood Consultation
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org (fitzer21 null@null hotmail NULL.com)
Web: www.chicagohypnodoula.com (http://www NULL.chicagohypnodoula NULL.com/)
Blog: www.triciafitzgerald.blogspot.com (http://www NULL.triciafitzgerald NULL.blogspot NULL.com/)
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