- Hilary Swank announced yesterday that she is pregnant with twins.
- The star is 48 – which health experts consider to be advanced maternal age.
- He will likely need extra monitoring and may have complications, the OBGYNs said.
Hilary Swank is pregnant at 48 with not just one baby, but two.
“This is something I’ve wanted for a long time,” the actor said Wednesday in an appearance on “Good Morning America.” “My next thing is, I’m going to be a mom.”
Dr. Kecia Gaither, who is dual board-certified in OBGYN and maternal-fetal medicine and is the director of perinatal services and maternal-fetal medicine at NYC Health +, says being older in pregnancy and having twins increases her risk for pregnancy complications. Hospitals/Lincoln in the Bronx, he said.
Older mothers are at increased risk for complications such as gestational diabetes, high blood pressure and preeclampsia. They are also more likely to miscarry, experience a stillbirth, or go into premature labor.
Still, it’s possible for an older mom like Swank to deliver twins safely, Dr. G. Thomas Ruiz, chief of OBGYN at MemorialCare Orange Coast Medical Center in Fountain Valley, California.
“As long as the patient understands the complications and risks before pregnancy and is willing to go along with everything, you can have a healthy baby and mom at 48,” Ruiz said. “It’s just more work for mom.”
Older pregnancies need more monitoring
Swank is likely working with a high-risk perinatologist, according to Ruiz. That’s because it’s typical for older moms and people carrying multiples to have more frequent appointments, including ultrasounds every three to four weeks.
“We’re doing all the necessary surveillance so we can stay on top of any complications,” Ruiz said.
Doctors closely monitor a person’s fluid levels, cervical length, and other measures for a healthy pregnancy. It’s also not uncommon for mothers to be placed on modified bed rest during the third trimester to prevent preterm labor, Ruiz said.
A spontaneous pregnancy at 48 is unlikely
The chances of a 48-year-old getting pregnant without intervention is about 5 percent, Gaither said. The chance of a healthy pregnancy is much lower, Ruiz said, as birth defects in the fetus increase as the mother ages. For example, when a pregnant woman is 45, her chances of conceiving a fetus with Down syndrome are one in three.
Because birth defects in the fetus increase the risk of miscarriage, older mothers are more likely to miscarry. Interestingly, the chances of naturally conceiving twins increase with age.
Some ways to deal with some of these complications are egg freezing or using donor eggs.
People who are considering becoming pregnant at an older age should understand the risks
Ruiz personally delivered twins to a 51-year-old mother. While it’s becoming more common for seniors to try to get pregnant, Ruiz likes to make sure his patients understand both the possibilities and the risks. If someone over 45 expresses a desire to get pregnant, they send them for blood tests and other tests to understand the specific possibility of getting pregnant.
Then, it’s upfront about the physical and emotional tolls of pregnancy at an advanced age, including monitoring and possibilities for bed rest.
“We can get you through this safely, with proper management and care, as long as you understand that it’s going to be a more difficult pregnancy than when you were 28,” she said. “You can pass it safely.”