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Thinking of motherhood after 40? Have you already conceived, given birth, or adopted, and find yourself on the journey of being a mother in midlife?You’re not alone! In 2011, the American Center for Disease Control (CDC) made the startling announcement (http://usatoday30 NULL.usatoday NULL.com/news/health/2010-04-06-birth-rate_N NULL.htm) that the only women to show an increase in fertility for two years running were over the age of 40.In fact, from 2007 to 2009, in women between 40 and 44, fertility rates rose by 6% and for those between the ages of 45 to 49, rates were up by 17%. The trend in births after 40 continues to increase. Similar, if not greater, rises have been occurring in other industrialized nations around the world.Why does the number of women becoming mothers after 40 continue to grow? More importantly, what what lies ahead for you? READ ON and discover the real pros and cons of motherhood over 40!


Why More Women Are Having Children After 40

Sharyl Vandendries, mom at 45

The causes of women delaying pregnancy are related to a confluence of cultural forces:

  • Widespread availability of birth control in the 1960’s.
  • The rise of women’s liberation and freedom to choose education and career—today, about half of the US workforce (http://www NULL.catalyst NULL.org/knowledge/statistical-overview-women-workplace) is made up of women.
  • Rapid advancements in reproductive science, including IVF, and the use of donor eggs, along with recent developments in egg and ovarian tissue freezing.
  • Delayed marriage, and the rise in divorce rate of first-time marriages to 50%.

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The Pros and Cons of “Advanced Maternal Age”

(http://www NULL.santacruzsentinel NULL.com/ci_13511695?IADID=Search-www NULL.santacruzsentinel NULL.com-www NULL.santacruzsentinel NULL.com)

Angel, photo from Santa Cruz Sentinel

Despite enormous cultural changes, mothers over 40 are a still a unique group. Pregnancy, birth and parenting at a later age often involve some tough challenges, as well as unexpected benefits.

Whether or not you are prepared for these can impact the quality of your motherhood journey.

Below, we’ve outlined what’s in store for moms over 40, and some really helpful links to relevant articles, contacts and support from the A Child After 40 archives!  You can also check out our free online fertility and parenting forums for moms over 40.
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The 10 Challenges of Motherhood After 40


1. The Mystery of Women’s Fertility After 40.

Jan Andersen, MothersOver40.com

With so many celebrities getting pregnant (http://www NULL.youtube NULL.com/watch?v=atScMih4_d0&feature=youtu NULL.be) and having babies after 40, it’s easy to assume that later conception will be a piece of cake. But, according to many fertility doctors, 40+ moms in the limelight are less likely up-front about costly reproductive technologies they used to conceive. They warn us against having unrealistic and false hopes about getting pregnant later.

Traditionally, the story we’re told by leaders in reproductive medicine is that a woman’s fertility begins to decline after age 27 until, after 40, she has about a 5% chance of getting pregnant per month. For women 35 and older, the “baby panic” has been epidemic. We’ve been led to believe that, while the future may look rosy for our daughters, who can now freeze their eggs at college age, we’re still facing dramatically diminished fertility due to aging.

But how much of this is reliably true? The question has recently been blown wide open in an article published in the Atlantic Monthly (http://www NULL.theatlantic NULL.com/magazine/archive/2013/07/how-long-can-you-wait-to-have-a-baby/309374/) in June 2013, by psychology researcher, Jean Twenge (http://www NULL.jeantwenge NULL.com/) from San Diego State University. According to Twenge, the oft-quoted fertility statistics relating to women’s age are based on French birth records dating from 1670 to 1830, a time before antibiotics, reproductive science, or advanced nutrition. She argues some rarely mentioned modern research offers a more “optimistic picture”: in one, women 35-39 have an 82 percent chance of conceiving within a year after having sex twice per week;  or that, according to a study conducted before the era of birth control, 89% of 38-year-old women were still fertile.

Twenge conceived her 3 children naturally after the age of 35, and despite her desperate “baby panic”. I conceived mine at 41 and 44, naturally, even though I was in the grip of the same fears thousands of women are prey to about age and fertility. We hear fresh “pregnant naturally over 40″ stories every day. Even  taken in the worse light, this new opinion must mean that our fertility future is brighter than previously believed.

Articles & Links:

Fertility

Reproductive Technologies

Adoption

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2. Pregnant and Past Your “Use By” Date?

Laura Saltman, Access Hollywood

Do you think you’re too old to be a pregnant mom? Obviously not.  But our prenatal healthcare system labels you as if you are.

Pregnant women over 40 are classified as being of “advanced maternal age” and “high risk”. First-time mothers over 40 are still called “elderly primigravidas”, a term coined back in the 1950’s, as if later pregnancies were an entirely modern phenomenon!

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3. Loss of Independence.

Tracy Rossignol, FashionForward40.com

After 40+ years, you’re more likely to be set in your ways, used to having your freedom. Having the sudden, and all encompassing, responsibilities of a new baby can strike at the heart of your independence with quite a bang.

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4. Menopause and Young Children

Dr. Priscilla Natanson, mom at 40

Either immediately, or in the next few years, the King Kong of postpartum will meet the Godzilla of peri-menopause.

This can cause a potentially explosive impact between estrogen,  progesterone and stress hormones, not-to-mention emotional highs and lows—all at a time when you are coping the high demands of rearing babies or small kids.

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5. Less Energy and Vitality

Jodi Halpern, PhD, mom at 40

Even with a perfect diet and plenty of exercise, over 40, you’re not going to have the energy to burn the candle at both ends like you did in your 20’s or 30’s. Children are high maintenance and relentlessly demanding at time when it is essential you maintain your physical health, just to keep up.

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6. Generation Isolation and Negative Social Bias

Christina Haltom, mom at 48

The majority of moms you’ll meet up with in the playground, at pre-school and beyond, are ten or more years younger than you, and coming from a different generation. You can feel like a fifth wheel.

In addition to feeling left out, you may find yourself facing stigma, ageism, and outright criticism as you interact with the outside world.

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7. Stereotyping: The “Grandma Effect”

Kristen Marinovic, mom at 48

Just when you least expect it: you’ll be strolling with your toddler through Barnes & Noble one day and a perfect stranger will stop, smile at your child and say to him: “Are we having a lovely time with grandma today?”

It’s a result of maternal stereotypes of the youthful mother versus the aging crone—and a lesson, frequently painful, in cultural preconceptions.

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8. Diminished Support Network

Madelyne Caine, “Last Chance Babies”

As a new mother over 40, you are less likely to have your parents either alive, or able enough, to help you in raising children. Worse, you may be involved in providing elder care and a toddler simultaneously.

Friends may have different interests now that their children have grown up and you’ll see them less.

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9. Drain on Financial Resources

Karen Zakarian, mom at 41

The huge costs of assisted reproductive technologies, having and raising children, and the cost of education, will boil down to substituting a family-size SUV for the retirement sailboat.

The minute your kids are born, you’ll be the last in line for monetary handouts from your own bank account.

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10. More Families With Singletons

Caren Chesler, mom at 47

Drawing on financial resources to pay for ART for a first child, can mean facing greater hurdles when it comes to producing a sibling.  Aging—along with the enormous costs of another round of ART, donor eggs, or surrogacy—not-to-mention the emotional strain, may prohibit further family building.

Articles

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The 6 Benefits of Age and Experience


1. Losing the “What If?” Factor

Sandy Robertson, GetPregnantOver40.com

Women who have their children younger often wonder what they might have achieved if they had delayed having children.

Women over 40 have had the opportunity to pursue higher education, career, personal growth and self-discovery. They know where they stand and are ready to dedicate themselves to children and to embrace motherhood.

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2. The Riches of Experience

Cynthia Wilson, InSeasonMom.org

After 40, women are more likely to have more confidence and emotional security, and to have done their research about motherhood. They are less gullible, and not as easily influenced by the immense marketing power of the parenting industry.

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3. Benefits to Children

Pamela Ferdinand, journalist

Many women have struggled to become mothers and their gratitude is deeply felt—therefore, their children are entering a life of being cherished and treasured.

According to UK researchers, older mothers tend to be more relaxed parents and almost 85% are married, in stable homes. Their children perform better on verbal and intellectual ability, conceived either naturally or via IVF.

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4. Career Clout and Financial Resources

Cindy Bailey, FertileKitchen.com

Mothers over 40 are more likely to have executive or management roles and can command significant salaries, as well as sound financial resources built up over the years.

They can better afford to hire the help they need—housekeepers, post-partum doula support, lactation consultants and pre and postnatal support groups.

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5. Longer Life Expectancy

Carolyn Schweitzer, MommyInTheMiddle.com

The average life expectancy for women is around 80 years, and they are expected to outlive men by up to ten years.

The New England Centenarian Study conducted by Boston University Medical Center recently found that women who give birth after forty were four times more likely to live to 100 or longer than were women who gave birth at younger ages.

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6. Benefits To Being Over Fifty

Lynn Laszewski, mom at 52

Motherhood after fifty has been described as “the final frontier”.  In fact, the notion of women over fifty successfully parenting very young children is hardly new:

  • In 2010, over three million grandparents in the U.S. were responsible for raising their grandchildren and few have questioned their fitness for doing so.
  • A study conducted at the University of California in 2007 found that women having children after fifty cope just as effectively with the stress of becoming parents as women in their thirties.
  • Since most women fifty and older use donor eggs, the risks of chromosomal abnormalities are low.
  • A 2012 study from the University of Columbia Medical School found that women pregnant at fifty with donor eggs fared just as well as expectant mothers, aged forty-two.

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Following a career in healthcare public relations in the UK and Canada, Angel LaLiberte gave birth to her son at 41 and daughter at 44, after conceiving naturally. In 2009, she moved to California and launched AChildAfter40.com to advocate for, and support, all women on the journey of motherhood after 40. For 4 years, she has written extensively on motherhood after 40—from fertility to retirement—interviewing experts and inviting women to tell their personal stories. Angel’s personal story. Her professional bio.

 

8 Responses to Motherhood Over 40 – The Real Challenges and Benefits

  1. international laundress (http://imamomgetmeoutofhere NULL.blogspot NULL.com) says:

    Don’t forget when you are really ‘hitting’ menopause (poor sleep, hot flashes) you may have a darling daughter in puberty and that my friend(s), can be a WMD. ;) .
    XO
    The International Laundress
    From
    http://imamomgetmeoutofhere.blogspot.com (http://imamomgetmeoutofhere NULL.blogspot NULL.com).

  2. Tara says:

    I love this list, but considering that this a an article about motherhood over 40, I’m surprised at how little adoption is mentioned. The assumption seems to be that we all gave birth to our children. Some of us didn’t but face the same issues.

  3. Angel La Liberte (http://www NULL.achildafter40 NULL.com) says:

    Hi Tara,
    Adoption is mentioned in Point #1 in the Challenges of Motherhood over 40, with a list of some of the many blogs we’ve written on adoption after 40. I think it would be really useful to have a separate title for this and will look into it on our next edit and revision. Thanks for bringing this to our attention!

  4. Need Help Getting Pregnant? 10 Natural Fertility and Pregnancy Blogs You Should Be Reading NOW (http://babybringer NULL.com/need-help-getting-pregnant-10-natural-fertility-and-pregnancy-blogs-you-should-be-reading-now/) says:

    [...] LOVE her extensive “Pros and Cons” section regarding becoming a mother later in life: Motherhood Over 40: The Real Challenges and Benefits [...]

  5. Lovin my kids! says:

    Thank you for a few morsels of positivity in a world of doubt and impossibility. I still believe we are at our very best a parents at 40. We know who we are, we don’t try to make our kids fill any gaps in our lives, but are patient and wise & allow then to completely become the best person they are going to be. This blog was great to lift my mood as we try for our third at 43 but have been told the odds are so low, if it occurred, we would be a write up case in a medical journal. P.S. We have no other medical conditions & have 2 healthy beautiful children. Thank you!!

  6. nicole says:

    With everything I have read, learnt and listened from friend and family there is one thing. At 39 this unbelievable feeling that my child is waiting for me is undesirable and that makes my decision easy. To be an amazing mum at 40.

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