Are Older Mothers at Increased Risk for Urgent Obstetrical Situations?

| Roxanne Blanford

Advanced maternal age has been linked to incidences of urgent obstetrical situations, prompting increased need for healthcare professionals who are trained in maternal interventions.

More women are opting to delay motherhood. For the most part, these older mothers (aged 35 and up) experience pregnancies without complication. However, medical research is beginning to correlate a growth in emergency deliveries with the advanced maternal age of first time mothers.

A study published in the August 2014 edition of the International Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology focused on 169,583 low-risk, primiparous pregnancies. Initial findings revealed that women of a maternal age beyond 35 years had higher rates of emergency caesareans and operative vaginal procedures than women who had their first child while in their 20s.

In some instances, older mothers experienced nearly twice the number of maternal interventions as their younger counterparts.

Urgent Obstetrical Situations on the Rise?
Among the growing number of delivery complications and maternal interventions assessed in the study, the following proved significant:

  • shoulder dystocia
  • caesarean section
  • epidural use
  • fetal distress
  • forceps delivery/ventouse delivery

Implications for the Efficacy of Simulation-Based Maternity Training 
The healthcare needs of expectant mothers are changing, specifically among those of advanced maternal age. Clearly, as more women become mothers later in life, interventions during labor and birth are likely to increase -- as will the demand for appropriate skills training in obstetric emergency management.

As such, healthcare providers should consider the usefulness of simulation-based maternity training to improve patient outcomes.

From breech delivery and post-partum hemorrhage to eclampsia and shoulder dystocia, CAE Lucina offers reliable and realistic training in a wide range of urgent obstetrical maneuvers.

Developed for clinicians and interprofessional teams who manage normal deliveries as well as childbirth and obstetrical emergencies, Lucina is the only childbirth simulator with validated maternal-fetal physiology for true-to-life education.

Mathews TJ, Hamilton BE. First births to older women continue to rise. NCHS data brief, no 152. Hyattsville, MD: National Center for Health Statistics. 2014.

Johanson R, Cox C, O’Donnell E, Grady K, Howell C, Jones P. Managing obstetric emergencies and trauma (MOET): structured skills training using models and reality-based scenarios. Obstetrician Gynaecologist 1999;1(2):46–52.

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