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CARE

Preparing for pregnancy in your 40s

I come from a large family and having a family of my own has always been important to me. My partner and I were blessed with our first child in our mid-30s and had our second when we were both in our early 40s. We did think about whether we may be too old at that point, but ultimately faith and the joy that family brings made it an easy decision.  

I see patients in similar situations—who paused in their peak childbearing years and are interested in revisiting pregnancy. My experience, specifically the second time around, was very precious, and the pregnancy brought new meaning and hope.  

Here are a few tips that helped me prepare myself to bring a life into this world.  

  1. Talk to your primary care provider to understand the risks and benefits of pregnancy and childbirth later in life.  
  2. Walk in nature every day, incorporating meditation and gratefulness toward all the beauty that surrounds you. Being well grounded and calm inside and out are essential.  
  3. Start a quality prenatal and omega-3 supplement at least three months prior to pregnancy. It's important to start this regime early since 50 percent of pregnancies are unintended and the right vitamins and nutrients can help reduce the risk of birth defects. Again, talk with your provider about the right dietary supplement.  
  4. Maintain a healthy weight by eating anti-inflammatory foods and lean toward the Mediterranean diet. These are mainly plant-based, and I am not vegetarian, so I did feast on a nice steak every now and then to make sure I was getting enough iron. I started on an iron supplement after consulting with my physician during the end of my second pregnancy.  

    Getting iron from foods instead of supplements may be less constipating and taking vitamin C helps iron absorption. I recommend drinking a glass of fortified orange juice with a bowl of iron-fortified, whole-grain cereal. One tablespoon of blackstrap molasses has 3-4 milligrams of iron and can be easily added to baked beans for a delicious iron-rich side dish.  
  5. Avoid using plastic containers, opting for glass containers instead. Plastic containers could expose you to bisphenol A (BPA), which is a chemical that can lead to cancer or disorders like attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Especially when heated, BPA leaches from the linings of cans and plastic containers. Almost all canned foods in the United States—like meats, soups, pastas and liquid infant formula—contain levels of BPA unless otherwise labeled.  
  6. Try acupressure or acupuncture. I scheduled acupuncture appointments before conceiving and throughout the first trimester for various pregnancy-related ailments. Acupressure has also been found to help with nausea.  

No matter your age, pregnancy is a transformative time, so reach out to family and friends to build a community of support early on. Through positive relationships, gratitude and self-care, your later-in-life pregnancy can be tranquil. It even made me a little healthier, and I have given birth to two healthy, beautiful children.

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