According to a new study published in BJOG: An International Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, older moms-to-be are at increased risk of requiring emergency measures to give birth, whether that’s a C-section or an “operative vaginal delivery,” which includes forceps or ventouse. In fact, the study found that women over 40 had triple the rate of emergency C-sections, and nearly double the rate of operative vaginal deliveries of women 20 to 24. Women over 40 had a 22.4 percent emergency c-section rate, and a 23.7 percent rate of use of forceps or ventouse. And those rates aren’t just for high-risk moms-to-be: That’s the rate for healthy older moms.
But maternal age wasn’t the only risk factor for these emergency interventions—using an epidural, induction of labor, large birthweight or a gestational age over 41 weeks were also factors.
Long story short? If you’re an older mom, your doctor should be aware of the likelihood that intervention may be necessary—and you should be realistic about your odds of requiring a little help to bring that baby into the world.
Tell us: If you’re an older mom, did you have an unexpected C-section or another emergency intervention? How did you handle it?
“We would love more children if God saw fit to give us more, I just want to make sure that I am ready to catch a baby if that would happen,” Michelle Duggar says in tonight’s episode, as she goes to see Dr. Paul Wendel, an ob-gyn in Little Rock, Arkansas, who specializes in high-risk pregnancies.
At 47, if Michelle were to get pregnant again, it would be considered a high-risk pregnancy as the risk of birth defects and complications rise with age. Her doctor says getting pregnant at her age isn’t impossible (just look at Halle Berry!), but “very unusual.” “As we age, your chance of getting pregnant naturally begins to drop. And in the mid-40s it drops to less than 5 percent.”
He also shared that if Michelle were to get pregnant the chances of having a child with down syndrome would be high. (At age 47, the risk is as high as 1 in 4. In comparison, at age 24 the rate is 1 in 2,000.) Of course, this isn’t new news to Michelle, who has had six children since turning 36.
While Michelle would love to have another baby, she says she will be able to come to terms with not having any more children—if it should come to that. “If I am in that season of life where we’re not able to have any more, then I’m fine, I ‘m happy with that,” she says in the clip. “But if there are things physically I need to know, that I need to do, health-wise just to be ready to catch a baby if God saw fit to give us one.”
A 37-year-old woman, who claimed to be 41-weeks pregnant and in pain, was given an emergency C-section in Brazil—then doctors discovered she was never actually pregnant! She had what’s called a phantom or false pregnancy, where women have all of the symptoms of being preggers, including an enlarged abdomen, loss of menstruation, nausea, fatigue and even engorged breasts. So when doctors couldn’t find the baby’s heartbeat, they immediately went into baby-saving mode, hence the C-section.
Phantom pregnancies are quite rare only occurring between one to six times out of every 22,000 reported pregnancies. According to the Guardian Express, “For some women, a medical condition unrelated to pregnancy may be to blame for the signs and symptoms associated with a phantom pregnancy. Ovarian tumors can account for some of the symptoms associated with pregnancy as can severe depression in rare cases.
For most women with a phantom pregnancy, however, the cause is strictly psychological. Women who have suffered previous miscarriages and infertility are much more likely to have phantom pregnancies, as are women in their thirties and forties who have been unable to have children and may perceive that time is running out for them to do so.”
Talk about mind over matter—it is thought for many of these women, that they want to be pregnant so badly that their minds actually trick their bodies into believing they are, and the pregnancy symptoms kick in. The really sad part is that the woman’s husband reportedly told doctors that this was her second false pregnancy within a year. The only thing that got me through the intense morning sickness, foot swelling, back pain, and heartburn was knowing that in the end, I’d have a beautiful baby to make all of it worth it. I can’t even imagine how difficult it would be to go through nine months of pregnancy symptoms only to be told that there never was a pregnancy at all. If you didn’t have psychological issues before that, you certainly would in the end! I hope this woman gets the treatment she needs.
TELL US: Have you ever thought you were pregnant only to find out you weren’t? Can you imagine that feeling on this grand of a scale?