Words of Wisdom – Excerpts from Christianne Northrup, M.D.’s Work

One of the leading authorities on women’s health is OB/Gyn and author Christianne Northrup was writing about the trend of women becoming mothers for the first time after age 35 back in the 1990s. Her ground breaking book Women’s Bodies, Women’s Wisdom from 1998 gave us a lot to think about.

Some Highlights of Her Comprehensive Book…

She writes about the field that she knows best and in her Pregnancy chapter she says “Modern obstetrics, however, has changed from natural , patient “standing by” and allowing a woman’s body to respond naturally into a domineering and often invasive practice.” Dr. Northrup discusses how pregnancy is now defined as an illness in American culture for young and older women.

She discusses the term “elderly primigravida” and how she resents that label being given to women having their first baby over age 35 or even age 30 in the 1990s. Of course the term “Advanced Maternal Age” is the label many of us received in the 2000s and today.

  • “Whether or not a woman is more at risk in her thirties must be completely individualized. I’d rather take care of a 40-year-old in excellent health than a twenty-five-year old who smokes two packs and quaffs a gallon of Diet Coke per day. Too often the medical profession “hexes” women in who become pregnant in their thirties or forties by lumping them into statistically high-risk categories that are not necessarily applicable.”
Another term that may or may not be used in the present day is “Premium Pregnancy, meaning that the mother is presumed to be or is more anxious (0r is made more anxious by culture and her doctor!), and we should treat her differently.”  Dr. Northrup sees the bias as well. It’s hard to imagine how we might feel if our doctor made us anxious about this being our only pregnancy – having little idea of what our futures might hold.
Dr. Northrup makes some observations about moms having their first child after age 35 that are very true for many of us:
  • “One of the nicest things about women having their furst babies in their late thirties and early forties is that by then, these women have often established themselves in the outside world of work and career…Many have had the time to get in touch with their bodies over the years and are more comfortable with themselves than they were in their twenties, In my mind, these women are actually low risk,” she wrote.

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