In recent years, more and more women have had a successful pregnancy after 40. While this can be attributed to improvements in fertility and in vitro fertilization techniques, the soon-to-be mother herself has an important role to play to ensure that she will be able to give birth to healthy baby with as few problems as possible.
First of all, the importance of a well-balanced diet could not be emphasized enough. To reduce the risk of neural tube defects, such as Spina Bifida, women can take folic acid supplements or just simply increase their intake of green, leafy vegetables (which are rich in folic acid). Iron and zinc supplements can be given to women who have been diagnosed to have anemia.
Secondly, women aged 40 and above who smoke should quit the habit if they want to have a successful pregnancy. Smoking has been implicated in a number of pregnancy-related problems, including miscarriage, neonatal death, stillbirth, premature birth, ectopic pregnancy, babies with low birth weight, and Sudden Infant Death Syndrome.
Intake of caffeine, alcohol, pain killers, antihistamines and other drugs may cause premature birth, labor complications and low birth weight in babies. Women who heavily consume alcohol consumption deliver babies with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, which is characterized by growth and mental retardation and hyperactivity. Intake of oil-soluble vitamins like A and D should also be avoided as these may cause liver damage in the baby.
There is considerable debate about exercise during pregnancy after 40. While many fitness enthusiasts advocate exercise, doctors, however, advise mothers against doing any vigorous workouts because of the weakness of the uterine walls. Ideal exercises are those with low impact such as swimming, walking or stretching.
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