How to Have a Healthy Pregnancy After Age 35
By Kathy Zucker
I had a lot of plans for this pregnancy. I was going to take long walks, go swimming, and generally keep to the fitness regimen that led me to drop all the baby weight plus another ten pounds.
In reality? All I want to do is sleep.
I guess I shouldn’t be too surprised because I remember sleeping a lot during my first two pregnancies. However, I never kept track of the actual hours or time-frames. Possibly because I already have two children, I am getting increasingly tired as this pregnancy progresses. I need to sleep 8-10 hours a night plus take a 30-60 minute afternoon nap to feel rested.
Normally, I need six hours of sleep to function well. With three months to go, my exhaustion is only going to get worse since my bladder gets compressed during late pregnancy (hello, midnight peeing!) And all bets are off once I have a newborn. I tend to hit rock bottom when my babies are four months old, with a full year needed before I am back to “normal.”
Since I am facing such a grim sleep situation, it’s time to take drastic measures to regain my work-life balance. I recently divested myself of one of my three company partnerships, selling out my equity share to the other partners. The lesson to be learned? Never take anything for granted. I am an experienced mother, but I overestimated my ability to manage work demands.
There have been some compensations. Despite being over 35, this has been by far my healthiest pregnancy. Hypertension was a constant concern during my first two pregnancies, with a 48-hour magnesium drip ordered during my first delivery because my blood pressure went so high that the medical staff was concerned I was going to have seizures from preeclampsia. I was induced two weeks early during my second pregnancy because the risks were too high that hypertension was constricting placental blood vessels and thus causing decreased oxygen to the fetus.
It turns out that all that healthy eating and pushing an increasingly heavy double stroller (simultaneous upper and lower body workouts!) around Hoboken have paid off in spades. When I became pregnant last spring, I was in the best physical condition of my life since high school. Even though I have done little since then to maintain my endurance and strength, just being in such good shape has led to my first low-risk pregnancy; my blood pressure has been consistently low.
I expected pregnancy over age 35 to be fraught with risks for both me and the baby, but it turns out that taking care of myself and getting into peak physical condition mattered more than my age. My doctor tells me that my risks of pregnancy complications are the same as during my first pregnancy at age 31. Now that the chromosomal testing scares are over, I can relax and enjoy the rest of this pregnancy.