Age-Related Side Effects of Mid-Life Pregnancy

Risks to women associated with pregnancy and giving birth after age 40.


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High-tech medicine is making it possible to get pregnant at 40, 50, even past menopause. However, a mid-life pregnancy may increase the potential for developing cancer and heart problems. The post-40 mom should also be aware of these risks:

Incontinence. Older women may already have weak pelvic-floor and urethra muscles, which can make urinary incontinence much more likely, both during and after pregnancy, says Robin Kalish, MD, of the Weill Cornell Medical Center. And even if the 40-something mom has a C-section, she may still develop urinary incontinence that requires that requires surgery to fix, Kalish stresses.

Strains and sprains. Your expanding uterus puts enormous strain on your back muscles, which tend to be weaker in older women, says Mary Jane Minkin, MD, of the Yale School of Medicine. To protect your back, continue to exercise (include back-strengthening moves) throughout pregnancy. A chiropractor or acupuncturist may be able to help.

Depression. While no studies have looked at the 40- and 50-something mom's susceptibility to postpartum depression, "it makes sense that older moms could be more vulnerable to this, as they may be more set in their ways and used to more personal freedom than younger women," says Diane Sanford, PhD, a St. Louis psychologist who specializes in postpartum depression.
Hallie Levine Sklar
Last Updated: May 18, 2009

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