As a 42-year old woman of advanced maternal age, I am under consultant care – which I have to say feels good. It feels good to be cared for and knowing that my unborn baby is cared for, too. In my situation, consultant care means I had my first consultant appointment at the hospital at 22-weeks and I have been told I will have further appointments with her at 28, 32 and 36 weeks. I understand that this is standard practice for older mums-to-be which I am told (by my consultant) is 40+, although Mr Google does produce 35+ as a measure. I am currently researching the definition of a geriatric mum further so when I find out the official age, I will post it for all to see – although I suspect this differs a bit depending on who you talk to and what county you live in.
One of the joys of being pregnant is seeing the very first scan, the heartbeat, the fingers and toes and the backbone in all its glory and knowing that we have access to free ultrasound scans throughout our pregnancies in the United Kingdom, is pretty incredible. Over the duration of my first two pregnancies, I had the standard 12-week and 20-week scan and it was left at that. This time around I have already had five scans. Each time they were booked so that the sonographer could re-check some measurements and to look at polyhydramnios (excess amniotic fluid) which was pointed out as a concern at my 20-week one. This since has subsided a little, but it is still at high-normal.
I took my mum to one of the scans and she was quite amazed. I am the youngest of three children and 42-years ago there were no routine baby scans like we have today. She didn’t have a single scan in any of her three pregnancies so to see a baby wriggling around at 16-weeks was pretty incredible for her. I went in on my own first for fear of bad news I think, plus the girls were with us so it felt best to go in to be checked first. It was the school summer holidays and my parents were visiting from Lincolnshire and I did really want my mum to be with me for support and so that she could experience the kind of scan we get in modern maternity care. The kids and Mum were fascinated, my eldest kept saying “is that the head”… “what’s that bit” over and over and the sonographer didn’t seem to be overly keen that she was there asking 101 questions. I tried to do the SHHH eyes but it didn’t help a bit. She was too excited and it was lovely. I wonder if they will remember seeing their little brother in years to come?
In a recent consultant letter that was sent to my GP and CC’d to me, it read “despite her age of 42”. Now this has to be taken in context and I don’t want to copy the letter out for the purposes of this post, but I have to say that I smiled when I saw it. I have no problem with my age or the fact that I am pregnant at 42 and I understand that the medical profession note it down because there are known increased risks of having a baby at a later stage in your life – 40+. The harder thing for me, as I said in my first ever post (https://geriatricmum.co.uk/42-and-pregnant/), was the reaction of the people around me, do read the post to see what some of them said.
I do always come back to the fact that we are so lucky to see and know what is happening to our babies during our pregnancies and like I said before, as an older mother, I do feel extra well cared for with phone calls from my consultant, letters from the consultant, numerous scans and more to come and nice conversations at my hospital meetings.
My advice, thus far as a GM, would be to question the questions, ask for the reason why, to understand what the medical professionals are telling or advising you and to take care of yourself throughout the process. We all know that pregnancy and birth can be exciting, worrying, troubling, fearful yet amazing – but we don’t always know how to ask for what we need or to understand fully what we are being told along the way. The medical profession looks after us women of advanced maternal age and we need to ensure that our friends and family do that, too.
Lucy Baker, 42, 26-weeks pregnant
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