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Runner's Bump series: Geriatric pregnancy, seriously?

Posted by Lara Salahi  March 19, 2014 08:08 AM

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Caitlin Hurley of Bedford, Mass., has two children ages 5 and 8 and is pregnant with her third. She ran until 7 1/2 months into her pregnancy with her first two children and is planning on doing the same with her third, depending on how she feels.She ran the 2013 Boston Marathon in 2:58, and her next finish line will be delivering her baby late July 2014.  Each week she'll document her progress on Ultra Sound Pregnancy.

The Runner's Bump series documents one woman's pregnancy journey and her commitment to maintaining and healthy and responsible level of fitness with clearance from her physician. The views expressed are not meant to offer medical advice. Pregnant women should consult their own physician about appropriate physical activities based on their pregnancy status. 

I recently found out that I am "AMA", the politically correct way to say that my body ain't what it used to be.  AMA stands for Advanced Maternal Age, which makes me think of that grandmother in France who gave birth to twins a few days shy of her 67th birthday. In this case, AMA includes every pregnant woman 35 years old and over. Clearly it was coined by some balding man in his fifties trying to make all of us aging wanna be mothers feel bad about ourselves and the fact that we want to have kids at the nearly-geriatric age of 35. Indeed, AMA is much more reassuring than the still used term for pregnant 35 and over cohort: geriatric pregnancy.  If it means more testing and better care, I'm all for being AMA, although I think the term geriatric pregnancy should go.  It takes two opposing words, one symbolizing old age, loss of vigor and a failing body and mind, the other youth, vitality and strength, and attempts to marry them. Its like prepubescent memory loss or early onset incontinence, it just doesnt flow.  Given that at least 20% of pregnant women are in this category, its time to relegate geriatric pregnancy to the 60 plus crowd who defy hormones and the general order of things.

In running, the Masters division (such a more soothing term) begins at age 40, probably the age Ill be when Im up to the task of racing again.  Is it any wonder that many races are won (at least on the female side) by the 40 plus crowd, a group that has mastered the art of racing and arent slowing down any time soon? Women who generally have had their children and can now focus more on training? What if the US Track & Field Association started calling the Masters category Geriatric runners?  How embarrassing would it be for a fit 22 year old to lose to a geriatric runner?  I say this to make a simple point: women who are pregnant beyond their 34th year should not be made to feel as if their body cannot handle this, or that they are somehow defying nature by being pregnant at this age, but rather they should be applauded and reassured that while some risks are higher, they are getting the best possible care and are asked in return to take good care of themselves.  If the road running circuit is any indicator, theyll be able to chase their kids around the block with their non-geriatric counterparts. My vote? Change the term to Master pregnancy.

This blog is not written or edited by or the Boston Globe.
The author is solely responsible for the content.

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About the author

Lara Salahi is an award-winning multimedia journalist whose specialty is reporting health and medical stories. She has worked in local, network, and cable television, international print, and documentary film. She More »

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