July 10, 2009 / 9:00 AM / 10 years ago

Age makes for anxious first-time mums: study

SYDNEY (Reuters Life!) - Women who delay having their first child cope just as well as younger mums when it comes to pregnancy, but they’re a lot more anxious about their unborn babies, Australian researchers said.

Future mothers attend a workshop in Lima's maternity hospital, May 10, 2007. Peruvians will celebrate Mother's Day on Sunday, May 13. REUTERS/Enrique Castro-Mendivil

The research, led by Dr. Catherine McMahon of Macquarie University, found that first-time mothers in their late 30s and 40s coped just as well as women in their 20s with the physical demands of pregnancy and discomforts such as nausea.

“Generally it has been thought that older mums may not cope with the physical demands of pregnancy as well as younger mums, or they may be very anxious or find it difficult to cope with lifestyle changes” McMahon, a psychologist, said in a statement.

“But what we found was that even though there are some differences, older mums were generally adjusting well.”

The study followed 620 Australian women aged between 20 and 40 from their third trimester of pregnancy until four months after giving birth.

It found that women aged 37 and older remained as healthy in pregnancy as younger women and coped just as well emotionally. There were age-related differences, however, in other areas.

“Older mums expressed greater anxiety about the well being of their unborn baby, as you might expect given well publicized evidence of higher rates of obstetric complications in this age-group,” McMahon said.

“We also found that younger mothers were more positive about changes to their bodies.”

The researchers are currently studying how the mothers and their babies coped in the first few months after birth.

The research, conducted in collaboration with the University of Melbourne, was funded by The Australian Research Council. It was presented at the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology conference held in Amsterdam last week.

Writing by Miral Fahmy, editing by Sanjeev Miglani

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