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Monday, April 09, 2012


Pregnancy Over 40, Risks Not So Bad

Finally, a member of the medical community who doesn't take the gloom and doom approach to older motherhood.  Before the days of birth control, women had babies well into their 40's and some even in their 50's!  Dr. Nicolaides had a grandmother who had a child at 53 and he seems encouraging to older women having babies. Read more:

Professor Nicolaides, whose own grandmother had a child at 53, takes a refreshingly positive – if unconventional – view. ''The risks of late motherhood are completely exaggerated,'' he says, sweeping me into his handsome, wood-panelled office, where spotlit shelves are lined with his collection of ancient Greek pottery. ''There's an increased risk of Down's syndrome but the vast majority of women have normal babies at 40 and completely normal pregnancies.''

He attributes the late motherhood trend to women going ''into the professions'' and becoming intolerant and short-fused. ''You become stroppy like me!'' he says, eyes twinkling merrily (Nicolaides is divorced with two children). ''You develop your own routines and you don't tolerate fools!"

For those older women even-tempered enough to pursue both work and motherhood, the challenge is not necessarily carrying their pregnancy to full term, or even the birth itself, it's getting pregnant in the first place. Many never make it to Professor Nicolaides's clinic.

Instead, they visit Zita West, who runs a private fertility clinic that combines Western medicine with complementary therapies. ''I'm seen as a last-chance saloon,'' she says. ''Most of these women have been told there's no hope. They arrive at my clinic in floods of tears.''

West, a warm-hearted mother of two who trained as a midwife and acupuncturist, believes that the negative voices of authority can become dangerously self-fulfilling. ''Although I have a medical background, I feel the news that's delivered to women is quite brutal,'' she says. ''Having a baby is a deep burning desire for many women. And if you're told that your ovaries are withered and geriatric, it has a huge impact. Yet women age biologically at different rates. Some women over 40 may have the ovarian age of women of 35 and a 35-year-old may be more fertile than a woman 10 years younger.''

West, who has helped clients as old as 44 conceive naturally, believes that the approach to fertility is often over medicalised and fails to examine the whole picture, whether it's emotional health, diet, stress levels or exercise. ''Having sex naturally works better than IVF for women in their forties,'' she says. ''And I'm a great believer in the body/mind connection. Wherever you put your energy, things start to happen.'' 
 excerpted fromL  Older mothers: late bloomers (

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