BIRTH OVER THIRTY by Sheila Kitzinger


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A competent alert to the physical, social, and emotional issues that arise for older mothers--most pertinent for those is their late 30s or their 40s. Kitzinger (The Experience of Childbirth, Woman's Experience of Sex) is British-based, but this guide has been well edited for the American market by Penny Simkin. There is one reservation: childbearing between 30 and 35 is not generally regarded with the concern expressed here. Kitzinger covers the various reasons for late pregnancy, along with the likely reactions: though decisions for childbearing may be made (sometimes by unmarried women), ""surprise babies"" still constitute a large number of later births. For those who plan a pregnancy, Kitzinger discusses dietary measures to take and habits to break before conception (smoking, first and foremost). She then looks at prenatal care, with special attention to the risks and benefits of ultrasound and amniocentesis. ""Though ultrasound is probably a great deal safer than x-rays,"" she points out, ""it must be remembered that these were used for many years in obstetrics without anyone questioning their safety, and it was only after they were being employed routinely. . . to measure pelvic capacity that they were found to be carcinogenic. Tests on ultrasound suggest that there is no hidden danger, but time may teach us differently."" Kitzinger's point throughout is that the less medical intervention, the better. On the psychological side, she relies heavily on case reports to bolster mothers who may find themselves overwhelmed, exhausted, and emotionally volatile. By no means a comprehensive guide to pregnancy (Simkin's own Pregnancy, Childbirth, and the Newborn is tops in that class)--but a clear roundup of special issues for a certain age group.

Pub Date: Feb. 1st, 1984
Publisher: Penguin