Do risks of still birth go up for people over 40?

The topic of birth parent’s age and need for induction is a can of worms and as with many topics surrounding birth, there are conflicting opinions and high emotions around the issue.

In short, the answer is yes.

There are increased risks for people over 40, as well as people who have had IVF, or any number of pregnancy related issues that pop up for people. It is fairly well documented that the risk increases, and the risk goes up higher as a pregnancy continues.

What about the research?

Research often does not look at individual behaviors such as nutrition, exercise, and general wellbeing, which may play a part in how a pregnancy plays out. Given that, it is easy for some people to altogether discount the research. There are plenty of people over 40 who carry their babies past 40 weeks and have positive outcomes.

What is right?

In the end, someone is going to have to gauge, as with all things in life, what level of risk they are going to be able to live with. I don’t know what the right answer is.

How will it impact birth?

The role of a doula allows for holding space and witnessing birth in all of its many forms. I have seen inductions that are really special. I work hard to make them as smooth as possible for my clients. The internet bloggers and media often paint inductions as brutal. This can be true. But in complaining about inductions they forget that any birth can be brutal if the birthing person is pushed too hard, lied to, or is silenced during their experience.

What can you do?

Making the decision to have an induction is one that should be made with the birthing person and their provider, looking at their risk factors, thoughts, and perspective on the topic. Beyond the question of if someone should or should not have an induction if they are over the age of 40, is the question, do you trust your provider? That above all might be the most important part of the decision.

Would you like more information?

Evidence Based Birth has created a number of helpful resources for expecting parents. You can look deeper at the research here. If you want more information about what having an induction is like, want to gain coping skills, and help your birth team know how to support you, a private session might be right for you.
Thanks for reading,

About Amity Kramer

Amity Kramer has been helping families cultivate unconditional love since 2008. She is a Birthing From Within Mentor, Certified Gottman Educator, and founder of Thresholds. Amity leads soulful workshops for families in transition. She also is a practicing birth and postpartum doula which gives her a unique window into the joys and struggles of family life.

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