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Planning for Baby

5 Simple Reasons You Should Take a Birth Class

Anyone who has experienced the joy of pregnancy knows that as soon as that little blue line appears, so too does a seemingly endless list of expenses.  From the fun things, like decorating the nursery and buying baby clothes, to the more serious preparation for childbirth, everything just seems to add up.  Which, of course, begs the question, “Must I really take a childbirth class?”

Well, we might be a little biased, but we would answer with a resounding YES!  You should take a birth class.  Here are five simple reasons why the money spent on a great birth class is money well spent. Read more

Yes, my dear, you do need childbirth education, even if you have a doula!

Let’s start with what a doula is.  A birth doula provides physical, emotional and informational support for a family through pregnancy, labor, birth and early postpartum.  Doulas usually meet with birth clients for an interview and two prenatal visits prior to birth.  We have a lot to cover in these meetings.  We have to develop a relationship and I have to get a feel for what our rhythm will be, how you like to be touched, comforted, spoken to. And how your partner plans to help and is best supported as well.  Imagine how long it takes to find this stuff out while dating. . . . at best, I’m doing this in six hours.  Yup, doulas are awesome!  Read more

Can I still have a natural birth if I am over 35?

Women are often considered of an advanced maternal age if they are delivering their baby after their 35th birthday.  While there is some increased risk in pregnancy and birth over 35, most women can look forward to a wonderful and positive birth experience.  

Does being 35 make me high risk?

While some research concerning birthing of 35 does show increased problems, the truth is much less clear cut.  Actually, for older women there are many things that are not a higher risk for them.

In fact, one large study done in 2005 found:

“No statistically significant differences were noted among the groups [of various aged women] for threatened abortion, gestational hypertension, pre-eclampsia, preterm labor, preterm PROM, and assisted vaginal delivery.” ¹

According to this study, many of the things that women over 35 worry about, such as gestational hypertension and pre-eclampsia, are, actually, not statistically more likely for them.  This knowledge alone can make a woman feel much less fearful and more capable of achieving the birth she wants. 

The researchers go on to say that:

“In summary, the majority of women of advanced maternal age deliver at term without maternal or perinatal adverse outcomes.” ¹

One thing that does appear to be more likely as a birthing woman gets older is the risk of stillbirth.  Even this risk, though, when examined carefully is still incredibly low in developed countries.  This review of numerous studies found that:

“However, the absolute increase in risk was relatively small in studies from developed countries, with crude odds ratios varying from 1.20 to 2.23 on top of baseline stillbirth rates varying from 1.55 to 17.89 per 1000 total births” ³

Even though there is a small increase in stillbirth, it is still very low even for women considered to be of “advanced maternal age.” 

Chromosomal abnormalities also show some increase as a woman gets older, but this alone shouldn’t preclude a natural birth. 6, 7

Why are women 35 and older experiencing more cesarean sections?

Women, who happen to be 35 or older at the time of delivery, have higher rates of cesarean section birth.  In fact, women of this age or older are actually three times more likely to deliver by scheduled c-section.²

Researchers point out that women of this age may simply be birthing surgically more often due to their age alone (and not need), despite the relative safety of natural or vaginal birth.  

“Nonetheless, maternal age alone may be a factor influencing physician decision making.  It is uncertain whether the increased rates of cesarean delivery are due to a real increase in the prevalence of obstetric complications or whether there is a component of iatrogenic intervention secondary to both physician and patient attitudes toward pregnancy in this older patient population.” ¹

In essence, the researchers believe that it may be the attitudes of the physician and the patient regarding maternal age that increased these surgical births, not necessarily need.  (Iatrogenic refers to an intervention or illness caused by medical treatment.)  In fact, some studies found that the increased “surveillance” of these older mothers may even cause iatrogenic prematurity or babies born too early due to medical induction.² 

How can I increase my chances of natural birth if I am over 35?

Just because you are over 35 doesn’t mean you can’t have a great natural birth!  Research shows that this is true. 

“…most will achieve a successful pregnancy outcome. Best outcomes appear to be linked to pre-existing maternal health, and pregnancy care at tertiary centers may also contribute.”

Being healthy before you get pregnant, no matter your age, can improve outcome and possibly increase your chance of having the birth you want.  For example, one common risk for older women is gestational diabetes.  Gestational diabetes however has other risk factors independent of maternal age that contribute to it, including pre-pregnancy weight, health, and nutrition before and during pregnancy.  Another risk factor for women over 35 is chronic hypertension, but research shows that advanced age alone is not responsible for these complications.  Simply having a healthy blood pressure pre-pregnancy can be helpful. ¹

Leading medical groups point out that simple choices, such as eating well, exercising, and getting prenatal care, can be helpful in creating a healthy pregnancy over 35 or at any age.  If you desire a natural birth, a comprehensive natural birth class will prepare you best.  Look for one that includes instruction on both staying low risk and navigating common hospital procedures and testing.  These issues are especially relevant to women over 35 who are often encouraged to test excessively.

Can a woman over 35 achieve a natural birth?  The answer to this question is a resounding yes.  Being healthy, educated and aware can help you get what you want from the birth process.  Are there some risks to birthing over 35?  Yes.  But many of them can be minimized with a healthy lifestyle or do not prevent a natural birth. 

 

 

References

1. Cleary-Goldman J, et al. Impact of maternal age on obstetric outcome. Obstetrics & Gynecology. 2005;105:983.  (If you would like to view this entire study, copy and paste the entire title into your search bar.)

2. Advanced maternal age and pregnancy outcome (British)

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3577849/

3.  Maternal age and risk of stillbirth: a systematic review

Ling Huang, MD MSc, Reg Sauve, MD MPH, [...], and Carl van Walraven, MD MSc

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2175002/

4. Very advanced maternal age

 http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3637179/#!po=1.42857V

 5.  Midwifery. 2011 Dec;27(6):793-801. doi: 10.1016/j.midw.2010.07.006. Epub 2010 Oct 2.

Obstet Gynecol. 1981 Sep;58(3):282-5.

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20888095

6.  Rates of chromosome abnormalities at different maternal ages.

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/6455611

7.  Table, Down Syndrome rates by maternal age

http://www.mothers35plus.co.uk/down.htm

8.  Very advanced maternal age

 http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23159159

9.  Mayo Clinic

http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/pregnancy/PR00115/NSECTIONGROUP=2

Announcing Your Pregnancy

The coming of a new baby is a wonderful thing.  Now with the benefits of social media, there are as many ways to announce the beginning of your newest adventure as there are types of personalities.  Here are a few cute (or fun or creative or just plain silly!) ways to share your joy with the ones you love. 

We would love to hear your ideas too.  Leave them in the comments!

~A darling way to announce a new baby- the tiny coffee cup with the expected due month on it! 

 

~If you have older children, have them each hold a chalkboard with their birth order marked on it.  For example, the oldest would hold a chalkboard with “#1” on it and the so on and at the end of a the picture would be a chalkboard sitting by itself, with the appropriate number for the newest family member.  This also works beautifully for a first baby, as shown below.  This couple used their simple initials in a heart for this tender announcement.

~Print a puzzle with a picture on it announcing the new baby for family to put together.  (This one works great as a Christmas or birthday present.)

 

~Address a card to each family member with an enclosed “letter from the baby” announcing their coming birth. 

 

~Take pictures of the entire families shoes lined up.  Mom, Dad, older siblings if applicable, and lastly some tiny baby shoes!  This one is great to share with social media.  Add in each member of the families birth year using photoshop for some extra fun.

~For family members give a gift with the announcement inside.  This one is especially wonderful for a long awaited baby.

 

~Make a family “movie” ending with mom and dad holding a positive pregnancy test.

~For a pregnancy announced around the time of a holiday, incorporate seasonal themes.  This family had an older sister hold eggs marked “big sis” and shared the photos with family members for Easter.

~If you have older children, a simple shirt with the words, “Big Brother” or “Big Sister” are a cute way to both announce a baby and involve the older children.  Or, if you are more creative, you can make your own shirts like the one above!

~“Bump Ahead” signs are always fun.  Have parents stand next to a “Bump Ahead” sign.  Dad points at the mommy belly, and mom points to the sign. 

 

~Give the grandparents a brag book or photo album with only the first sleeve filled- with your ultrasound picture!  Not only is this a cute way to announce a pregnancy, but it gives excited grandparents a place to document the growing of their loved one.

 

~T-shirts for extended family members, especially grandparents are a cute idea.  Just have shirts made (or find some you can buy) that say, “Grandma” or “Grandpa” on them. 

 

~A baby picture frame presented as a gift, only instead of a picture it it, have a note with the expected due date in it.

~Simple, but sends the message!  Just sharing the picture of that positive test is a great way to tell your friends about your exciting news!

 

 

 

We express gratitude to all our readers who helped with the ideas for this post.  In particular we would love to recognize some of our amazing instructors who submitted ideas and pictures.  You can find more childbirth educators online.

Dani Long – www.YourBirthAdventure.com in Washington state

Cori Gentry – www.BirthMakesSense.com in California

Joni Yankus – jyankus@birthbootcamp.com in Texas

Kendra Parry – www.BirthAsIntended.com in Utah

Rachel Johnson – www.DFWBirthClass.com in Texas



 

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