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Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin has primary care offices throughout southeast Wisconsin, including Franklin Pediatrics in Franklin, Wis. Download our mobile app Children's On Call is our free mobile app that helps you make informed decisions on what kind of care your child might need.
As I watched Sarah and Bristol Palin at last week's Republican convention, I couldn't help but think about curves.
It shows how mothers are increasingly likely to have children with Down syndrome as they age, especially as they pass 35. Let me be clear: I don't think there's necessarily anything wrong about having a child with Down syndrome, or a preemie, or an underweight baby. So why is society so focused on curbing teen birth and so quiet on the increasingly common practice of women having children in their 40s? The day's important news, including local and national headlines, delivered every morning. You’re going to get advice on parenting from everyone you ever knew, and people you’ve never met! Try your best not to compare your baby to your friend’s baby, or to your sister’s baby, or to your neighbor’s baby.
But those children do risk serious health problems and may, in some cases, have a reduced quality of life.
Should we focus less on discouraging 17-year-olds from getting pregnant and more on discouraging 44-year-olds?
Let your partner or a loved one take care of the baby for a few minutes so you can take a shower or lay down for a few quiet moments. Breastfeeding is a learned skill for mom and baby, and most new moms need help and time to adjust. Believe in yourself and the decisions you have made, whether that is your child’s name, breastfeeding, vaccination or returning to work.
But some studies show that older men are more likely to father Down syndrome children than men aged 25 to 29 (Here's an Excel graph showing risk calculated by one such study). They're more likely to have underweight and early babies and children that die soon after birth, not to mention social, educational and economic challenges teen parents face. I don’t think you can fully explain, or even really understand, what it is like to be a new mom until it happens to you. Another favorite saying of mine is, “Sleep when the baby sleeps, eat when the baby eats, and do laundry when the baby does laundry.” Household chores can wait, or better yet, be assigned to someone else.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help when you need it, and seek advice from your pediatrician or lactation consultant. Other recent studies have linked older parents to conditions as diverse as cancer, schizophrenia and dwarfism.
I don't have answers, but with 40-somethings having babies at the fastest rate in decades and the teen pregnancy rate close to 50-year lows, I do wonder why a pregnant 17 year old drew so much more attention last week than her 44-year-old mother's pregnancy. The most important thing you can do is take care of yourself, so you can take care of your newborn and your family.
Let your family and friends help with cooking and cleaning so you can focus on your newborn. And don’t forget, if visitors are coming over to your house there are a few rules: 1) Wash your hands before you touch the baby, 2) Do not come over if you are sick, and 3) They should bring you dinner, or do a load of laundry. It is normal to be emotional right after having a baby, but talk to your doctor about postpartum depression if your feelings are more severe or persistent.
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