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28th May 2000
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Autumn babies

By Ruhanie Perera and Laila Nasry
The miracle of a newborn baby sends ripples of happiness. The tiny clenched fists, the funny faces babies make and those eyes full of trust make the toughest person smile, especially their mothers......women in the full bloom of youth.

But what of the others, who have left the nappy-washing days and the sleepless nights far behind. Those whose children are more or less grown up. Is it a shock when realisation dawns, even without that urine test, that once again, after many, many years, a baby is on the way?

Pregnant at 40 or over what are the feelings, fears and doubts? Are they tinged with joy and expectation of holding a baby close and experiencing once again what only motherhood brings? What of the misconceptions and society's attitude towards late pregnancies? Many think that having a child late in life can be fatal to both mother and child. A common misconception being that late pregnancies give rise to numerous complications.

One such mother, well-known beautician Janet Balasuriya was 44 years old when she conceived her son Shalin, 12 years after her previous child. 

"I was frightened at the time. I had read all these articles in the 'Femina' magazines about late pregnancies and I was really worried." 

Fortunately, gynaecologist Dr. Siva Sinnathambi dispelled all her doubts and reassured her. She had told her that her own mother (Dr. Sinnathambi's) had conceived her quite late in life.

The general opinion of the 'others' regarding her pregnancy wasn't favourable. "My mother and sister were asking me whether I should really be having a child at this age," she says frankly. "But I love children and unlike some others I don't think it's a curse." Mrs. Balasuriya had a complication-free pregnancy, due to her good health and "strong faith in God". 

As always she was careful with her diet and got ample exercise as she worked the whole of the nine months. 

"The pregnancy happened at the peak of my career so I couldn't take time off. To add to that she had to help her husband with his business. 

"I actually got too much of exercise because I was constantly going up and down the stairs. But this helped me because it took my mind off the pregnancy." 

No special tests were done during her pregnancy to ascertain whether the baby was normal. "I believed in God and I knew he would not let me down at that point." 

She was just given hormone treatment because of her age and told to be careful for the first three months. It was an easy pregnancy and a normal delivery. She and the baby were fine thereon. "There were around three other ladies in their forties giving birth at the same time in the hospital. They all got healthy babies."

Mrs. Balasuriya puts it down to how well the mother maintains her body. She dispels the popular myth of 'having to eat for two'. "It's not quantity," she stresses. "but quality" that matters. Mothers need to prepare their bodies for the baby and have beautiful thoughts all the time, she explained. 

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