Rythym Nation to Motherhood

The dream of becoming a mother later in life is possible. Just ask Janet … or Miss Jackson, as her song may compel you.

Just days before Mother’s Day, pop star Janet Jackson hinted that she is pregnant with her first child. The 49-year-old singer, who turns 50 this month, announced she is canceling her tour to start a family with her husband, and needs to rest per her doctor’s orders.

40-somethings & Pregnancy

Ms. Jackson isn’t the first, and won’t be the last, 40-something woman to become pregnant.

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Dr. Bailey Cannon – OBGYN

Dr. Bailey Cannon, who practices obstetrics and gynecology with Adventist HealthCare Shady Grove Medical Center, says the majority of the pregnancies that she sees are women over age 35. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the average age for a first-time mom in the greater Washington, D.C., area is approximately 29, exceeding the national average of 26.3.

Even with women having babies at older ages today, being pregnant at Jackson’s age brings unique challenges.
“There are definitely risks associated with advanced age pregnancies for both the mother and baby,” said Dr. Cannon. “With pregnancies over the age of 40, we watch for higher rates of miscarriage, genetic abnormalities, high blood pressure and diabetes in the mother. In some cases, hopeful moms will turn to fertility treatments and egg donors, as egg quality diminishes after 40.”

However, pregnancy over 40 for the first time is not all worries. While it may require additional genetic testing, monitoring and appointments, Dr. Cannon said many older women have perfectly healthy pregnancies and babies.

Tips for Pregnant Women Over 40

Dr. Cannon offers these tips for pregnant women over 40:

  • Start taking prenatal vitamins three to four months before trying to conceive
  • No alcohol
  • Regularly see your OBGYN
  • Deliver in a facility with a neonatal intensive care unit, or NICU, like Adventist HealthCare Shady Grove Medical Center.