By: Guest Author
Published: December 12, 2018
Written by Brooke Faulkner- Guest Contributor
There is no perfect time to enter motherhood. Life’s circumstances can dictate when it is possible to have children, whether it concerns finding the right partner, securing a stable financial foundation, or making time for your passions before you commit to raising a life.
As women around the world have gained independence and choice over the past few centuries, the average age of motherhood has continued to become later and later. However, this can impact many factors, including fertility and health issues, for women trying to conceive.
Consequently, there are many negative stereotypes associated with being an older mama, perpetuating the idea that women shouldn’t bear children after 35. However, everyone has a unique body and a different story. Motherhood after 40 is certainly possible, whether it’s biologically, through adoption, egg donation, surrogacy, and other ways.
Motherhood and Menopause
After 30, women’s fertility typically begins to decline. After 40, you may or may not be entering perimenopause or menopause, meaning that sexual reproduction may not be possible. However, some women are able to conceive and have natural births well beyond 40, even after 50.
Make sure you talk to community health nurses or nurse-midwives to support you along the way. They can help you navigate your options and essentially make the process a lot easier for you, offering medical advice and support on your journey to motherhood.
Of course, though it is possible for women to conceive at a later-than-average stage of life, it is not always the case. However, this doesn’t mean you can’t become a mother. Adoption should always be considered, as there are many children all across the world in need of parents who are ready to give them love, affection, and a home.
Just because your child doesn’t share your blood, doesn’t make them any less of your own. You will still enjoy the realities of motherhood, still celebrate Mother’s Day, still be a mother, if you choose an unconventional route.
What It’s Really Like to Become a Mother After 40
So, what is it actually like to become a mother after 40? Whether you conceive naturally, with the help of modern technology, or welcome a child by adoption, raising your child will come with its own set of challenges and blessings.
As an older parent, your body may not be as resilient or energetic as it used to. This might difficult, given the demands of raising a child, but – again – modern technology can come to your aid and make it possible and easier.
For example, the health benefits of breastfeeding are undeniable, but it may be more difficult for older mamas, especially if you are also going to work. Fortunately, high-tech breast pumps can make the breastfeeding process easier and faster than ever, saving moms time that they can dedicate to other needs.
Some challenges with having a baby can face mothers at any age. Postpartum depression (PPD) is no exception. Postpartum support is essential, especially when PPD is a factor, and whether or not you get PPD, you will need support after giving birth. As an older mom, you can feel isolated or like you are facing problems alone.
In either case, be sure to observe your feelings, talk about the changes and challenges you are facing, and join a community of others who are dealing with the same thing you are. It is important to know you are not alone and that you will overcome the challenges and be a wonderful mother for your kids, no matter your age.
On the other hand, there are benefits to going into motherhood later in your life. For one, many choose to wait so they can be more financially stable. If this is the case, that means that you will be able to provide for your baby in ways that you might not have been able to before. This also might indicate that you are more comfortable, settled, and established in your career now, letting you focus on your child without having to worry about work as much.
Additionally, you’ll probably know more women, friends and family alike, who have started their families and can offer you some advice, help, and support. You may also get more hand-me-downs from loved ones that have emotional value to them.
Not being a young mother can also add confidence, as you are more likely to be sure of yourself. One of the challenges all parents face is hearing different opinions and criticism from other parents, in-laws, and even strangers. A younger parent might have a harder time standing their ground, but the wisdom of your years will help you stand by your parenting decisions.
Again, it is important to note that there is no perfect time to have a baby. There are ups and downs to every decision you make, and you should try to focus on the positive consequences and do your best with whatever situation you end up with.
Wise Mama Stories
Knowing that other parents have gone through parenthood at an older age and listening to their stories is a way for you to get a better idea of what to expect. Here are some stories from wise mamas that may be helpful and relatable.
Adoption Over 40
Adoption is a great option for many. Here is the adoption story of one red hot mama:
In 2002, after many years of heartache and searching, my dear husband and I embarked on a journey to Russia to adopt two brothers. Given our ages (48), we felt that we would skip the infant stage and adopt younger children. On November 13, 2002, my husband and I stood in front of a Russian judge in the state of Vladimir, Russia and vowed to love, cherish and raise two little brothers Alexander and Nikita.
This was the best day of our lives.
Fast forward to 2005 and a very happy family! My life is now filled with Spongebob, Power Rangers, Cub Scouts, camping, PTA and all of the things important to raising little boys. Gone is the hurt and anger. Gone is the “Old Egg Feeling”. What is now important are wedgies, how far I can spit and the color of bug guts!
It really doesn’t matter what age you are, your hormonal level, stage of menopause or the condition of your eggs. If you want to have a family you can. You just need to open your arms and open your heart to other possibilities!
Sometimes, a little help from modern medicine is what it takes to get pregnant. This was the case of Jessica Fels, whose journey with adoption led her to open her own adoption agency:
“It took us a really long time to get pregnant with our [first child] until we figured out what was wrong in our fertility world,” says Fels. “Right before I turned 37, we decided to go with an egg donor and got pregnant right away. At 42, we got another donor. Ten years ago, I would have told you, ‘I’ll have a baby within two years.’ But you just don’t know what your body’s going to do for you.”
I Had My First Baby at Forty
Lastly, here is what Doctor Pixie McKenna had to say about having a baby at 40:
Having a baby in your forties changes the dynamic immeasurably. Thinking you can jostle a baby, a job and still enjoy a social life is to be seriously misinformed. You are no longer the girl who stays out beyond 6pm, or summons people for impromptu after-work drinks. Instead, you screech through the door late in the morning with baby sick on your skirt and spend the day checking up on your childminder, counting down the minutes until you can be reunited with your precious one.
You evolve from being the ‘girl about town’ to the ‘girl in the dressing gown’. Even the midwife sometimes looks at you a condescendingly, presumably thinking you’re a ‘selfish career woman’ who put the big lights and late nights first – before considering a family. Not to mention the general consensus that you will be a needy immunisation-phobic naturopath when you are an older mother. And the assumption that – by being in the media – you’re more interested in ‘getting your figure back’ than getting stuck in to family life.
It’s important to take pride in your path as a mother. Everyone’s journey is different and special. You’ll make it through the challenges and learn to appreciate all the little things. Being a mother doesn’t come with youth or age, it come with love and patience, and nothing can change that.
Brooke Faulkner is a mother of two and animal lover from Portland, Oregon.
The views expressed herein this article, written by a guest contributor, do not necessarily represent those of the Red Hot Mamas organization. The content is for informational purposes and should not substitute the advice of your doctor.