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.”
I was struck by the outpouring of feedback Parents received on Facebook after my last blog post, Terminate Your Pregnancy or Your Life? A Breast Cancer Dilemma. People were equally passionate for both sides. Many of you agreed with Laura, the woman who chose to terminate her fourth pregnancy in favor of saving her life so she could continue to be a mom to her three children. Some of you had even had to make that traumatic decision yourself (my heart goes out to each and every one of you!)
But lots of you felt that in the same situation you would have taken the risk and not received chemotherapy or undergone surgery in hopes of saving your unborn child. Many shared stories of friends and family members who took the risk and the baby lived and the mom died shortly after—making the ultimate sacrifice for her child; while others did the same and it paid off with a full recovery for the mom and a healthy baby.
Since one thing you all agreed on is that you care so deeply about the lives of little ones, I wanted to share some good news with you from this article I stumbled upon in the Daily Mail about brave moms who decided not to listen to their doctors’ advice when their pregnancies were seen as high-risk. Please understand that this is in no way an endorsement of going rogue against a doctor’s counsel (only you and your partner can decide what’s right for you and your family after hearing all of the medical facts), it’s merely me wanting to share the flip side of yesterday’s coin.
Imagine you’re an elementary school teacher who always felt she was born to be a mom. You’ve tried to get pregnant for seven years with thee failed rounds of IVF and one heartbreaking miscarriage before finally getting pregnant—with triplets! That’s exactly what happened to Kirsty Woodhouse, now 37. She was expecting identical twins and a singleton (weird name, I know, but it’s a technical term meaning the baby was not a fraternal or identical twin to either of the others). Multiple births are always considered high risk, so Kirsty was quickly advised that there was a 20 percent chance she would miscarry all three and her doctor advised that the best chance of having one healthy baby was “selective reduction,” which meant terminating the identical twins.
The procedure would require a needle to be passed through her abdomen, into her womb that would inject the twins’ hearts with a chemical that would stop them from beating. There was also a risk that the third child would also be affected by the chemical, leaving Kirsty and her husband with no child at all. But that risk was less than if she proceeded with carrying the triplets. If she and her husband went against medical advisement and she miscarried all three babies there was a good chance that she would never birth her own child (of course surrogacy and adoption were always an option).
While getting a second opinion, Kirsty’s new doctor took the positive spin to the same facts and said there was still an 80 percent chance that if she continued with the pregnancy that one or more of the babies could survive. After having seen their babies on Kirsty’s sonograms, hearing their heartbeats and already forming an unconditional love for each of them, Kirsty and her husband’s decision had been made for them. They were too emotionally connected to all three babies to end any of their lives intentionally.
Kirsty’s pregnancy was complication-free from then on out. After a planned caesarean at 34 weeks, now all three 15 month olds are happy and healthy. Kirsty and her entire family can’t bring themselves to wonder what their lives would have been like without these three bundles of joy. For her, all of the stress and worrying was worth it. She chose her own path and it lead to three beautiful babies.
Tell Us: If you were pregnant with multiples, would you risk one baby’s life to save another?