Advance Maternal Age Pregnancy

An advanced maternal age pregnancy, or what some people have lovingly called “geriatric pregnancy”, is a pregnancy that occurs in a person that is 35 years or older. Wait, what!? There’s nothing like hearing the word “geriatric” to make you feel excited for your pregnancy. I remember being in the OB office and them telling me, “This is a geriatric pregnancy so you are at a higher risk.” I thought to myself, “Well, that’s encouraging.”

 

According to Evidenced Based birth, advanced maternal age pregnancy is considered “high risk” because overall pregnancy related complications are higher for women in their late 20s and 30s (1). From a medical perspective, I understand how a pregnancy at this age could be a higher risk, but that doesn’t make it any less discouraging to hear. However, it does not need to be that way. BIRTHFIT’S four pillars and lifestyle factors can make impactful changes. 

 

I have the somewhat unique experience of having had a baby at age 24 and at 36. Yep – do the math. That’s a good gap. But in my experience, because I had been living the BIRTHFIT lifestyle at 35, and was not at 24, I personally felt more empowered and more capable during my geriatric pregnancy.  There were some lifestyle factors that made it harder, like having a tween daughter and owning a business, but in general, I felt more prepared physically, mentally, and emotionally because of my focus on the BIRTHFIT four pillars: fitness, nutrition, mindset, and connection. Positive lifestyle changes made a larger impact in my pregnancy than advanced maternal age.

 

FITNESS:

Movement really is life. Bodies do age and your body has likely been through some things, but that doesn’t mean an advanced maternal age pregnancy has to be harder.  At the age of 35 or older, you may feel more “in tune” with your body and what it needs and what it does not. Simply adding appropriate movement with breath, strength, and stamina can go a long way throughout your pregnancy. Training for birth can be your focus while letting go of any other fitness mindsets you might have carried in your twenties. Connect with your breath and your body because if you treat it kindly, it will serve you well. 

 

NUTRITION:

Nutrition for pregnancy during advanced maternal age won’t look much different than the recommendations for other ages. Focus on whole foods that nourish your body. As it relates to age, focusing on getting enough protein will be important to prevent natural muscle loss that comes with aging. Protein needs will vary, but at least 25% of daily caloric intake is ideal (2). Calcium is also important and we need it to support our bones and pH balance of blood. Although this mineral is important throughout your lifetime, your body’s demand for calcium is greater during pregnancy and breastfeeding (2). Also, don’t skip on the carbs. We don’t need to carb load, but we do need sufficient carbs to use as energy for the demand of pregnancy. 

 

MINDSET: Slow is fast

Mindset may be the hardest of all for pregnancy in general, but with age comes experience, and experience can prepare us to do amazing things. At 35 we have had some challenges thrown at us, but those challenges have helped us prepare to know that we are strong, that we are capable, and that with the right mindset we can thrive through anything. Learning to calm our anxious minds, learning that slow is fast, learning to feel confident in our new bodies, learning to listen to what our bodies need, and training our minds to embrace it all comes with practice. Explore different practices to help set up your mindset for success. 

Here are some examples:

  1. Visualisation can be a helpful tool. When connecting to breath, you can practice visualizing the pregnancy you want, the birth you want, and letting go of anything not serving your vision. 
  2. Journaling is a great daily practice. In your journal, write about “How am I feeling today? How do I want to feel? What am I doing for myself today? How can I connect to myself and baby today?”
  3. Meditation is another daily practice. I highly recommend 10 minutes of meditation per day. Using an app like Headspace can be super helpful and they have pregnancy related meditations.

 

CONNECTION:

Connection is critical and knowing that other women in the same life stage are going through the same or similar things helps your sanity. At the age of 35, many women are in the middle of their career and some might already have a family to care for, but connecting to other women can help us feel seen and heard; it can empower us to thrive through pregnancy. The wisdom of other moms can be priceless, so find connection, ask for help, and share your feelings. 

 

There is no doubt in my mind that having the BIRTHFIT four pillars as a lifestyle made my pregnancy and birth so much richer at 35; so much more enjoyable and beautiful! Yours can be, too!

 

Amanda Hendren

BIRTHFIT Coach

@amandanhendren Vantagemovement.com

 

 

References:

  1. Evidence Based Birth.
  2. Bloomquist, Diedre; Nutritionist. Personal Interview. January 10th, 2020.

 

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