Cable TV host Nancy Grace is expected be released soon from a hospital after a close call earlier this week. The 48-year-old delivered premature twins last week, only to land in the hospital a few days later with dangerous postpartum complications.
After her delivery Nov. 4, doctors discovered fluid in her lungs. She recovered and went home. But on Sunday, Grace began having trouble breathing on her way to church.
Her husband, David Linch, rushed her to an Atlanta emergency room where doctors found two blood clots in her lungs.
Linch said Wednesday that Grace is doing much better. "She is breathing effortlessly now," Linch told People magazine. "The swelling around her legs and feet have pretty much gone away."
Blood clots are a danger to any pregnant woman, but especially older women.
"Twenty percent of women that die as a complication of pregnancy is directly related to blood clots," said Dr. Lauren F. Streicher, a professor of obstetrics/gynecology at Northwestern University.
Over 40 and Determined to Give Birth
Grace is part of a growing group of older who are determined to give birth. More than 100,000 women over 40 gave birth in 2003, and that number has been rising since, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Grace is certainly not the only high-profile woman over 40 to have her own baby in recent years. Oscar winner Geena Davis had twin boys at age 47, and Elizabeth Edwards delivered her son Jack at age 50.
And 60-year-old Frieda Birnbaum recently gave birth to twins. "I have more of an urge now to be a nurturing parent than I did when I was younger," Birnbaum told "Good Morning America."
But doctors warn that these mature moms may be putting their babies' health and their own health at real risk .
"Forty-five is still 45, and statistically those women are still at significantly increased risk for developing complications of pregnancy, which is not only dangerous to their unborn child but also could be very dangerous to themselves," Streicher said.
Risks include high blood pressure, diabetes and, like Grace, dangerous blood clots.
But obstetricians today are paying closer attention to these complications.
"There is no doubt that a woman over 40 today can have a less complicated pregnancy than that same woman would have had 20 years ago," Streicher said.
Avoiding Blood Clots
Internist and women's health expert Dr. Marie Savard said that a woman who has a Caesarean-section birth is also at greater risk for blood clots.
"Because any surgery, you're cutting into healthy tissue, and that releases all these clotting proteins and these factors that set up this whole cascade of events that lead to blood clots in the legs," Savard said. "Then you get up and move around after surgery, and then that travels up into your lungs."
Savard said women should be aware of the signs of a blood clot traveling to the lungs -- sudden shortness of breath and rapid heartbeat.
"Your body is telling you is this major and life threatening thing is happening," Savard said. "[Grace] is lucky to be alive because urgent, quick treatment is critical."
To avoid blood clots during pregnancy or anytime, Savard said staying physically active is key, especially standing up and moving around to get blood circulating in your legs.
Be aware of a family history of blood clots, or whether you have a family history of miscarriages. And if you feel like something is wrong, don't be afraid to speak up and talk to your doctor immediately.