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Women who give birth for the first time in their late 30s and early 40s cope just as well with the physical demands of pregnancy as younger women, but are more anxious about the wellbeing of their babies, research has found.

A study of 620 Australian women in their 20s, 30s and 40s found that despite a higher risk of complications for older mothers, women aged 37 and over remained just as healthy throughout their pregnancies as younger women.

Generally it has been thought that older mums may not cope with the physical demands of pregnancy as well as younger mums ... but what we found was that even though there are some differences, older mums were generally adjusting well 

Lead researcher and psychologist Dr Catherine McMahon said that after interviewing the mothers about their moods and typical problems, such as nausea and back pain, there was no age difference in the results.

"Generally it has been thought that older mums may not cope with the physical demands of pregnancy as well as younger mums, or they may be very anxious or find it difficult to cope with lifestyle changes," said Dr McMahon from Maquarie University. "But what we found was that even though there are some differences, older mums were generally adjusting well."

But the research found that older mothers were more anxious about their unborn babies.

"We also found that younger mothers were more positive about changes to their bodies... They were the only two differences found in relation to age."

Dr McMahon said the research, which is following women from their third trimester until their babies are four months old, found that women who had experienced infertility or had conceived through IVF were extremely positive about their pregnancy, but concerned about the outcome, regardless of age.

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