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By Julie Bindeman, Psy-D Reproductive Psychologist and Co-Director of Integrative Therapy of Greater Washington.
No doubt you’ve gotten discouraging comments, or awkward stares, when you share with people your plan to start a family—all because you are trying to conceive over the age of 40.
Given last week’s article in Atlantic Monthly, How Long Can You Wait To Have A Baby? (http://www NULL.theatlantic NULL.com/magazine/archive/2013/07/how-long-can-you-wait-to-have-a-baby/309374/) , its clear there’s still a lot of anxiety for women about being “older” and how long their fertility will last.
Here are 8 steps for beginning your journey to motherhood after 40 feeling equipped to deal with what others say as well as your own fears.
1. Know your“Why”.
Feeling secure in your answer to the question “Why do you want to do this” is first and foremost. For most people, motherhood isn’t a whim, and your reason has validity. Plus, your “why” strengthens your internal resolve.
2. Know your audience.
Who is there to support you in your journey? Talk to them and visit them frequently. Pare down the people in your life that are unsupportive of you. While your friends don’t have to agree with your choices (as you don’t have to agree with theirs) supporting you can still exist.
3. Learn ways to calm yourself.
Parenthood is stressful. Pregnancy is stressful, and after 40, you are firmly in the “high risk” category. Having tools to calm yourself can only help. Start a regular yoga practice or learn how to meditate. (Sites such as www.youtube.com (http://www NULL.youtube NULL.com); www.yogajournal.com (http://www NULL.yogajournal NULL.com); and the Mayo Clinic (http://www NULL.mayoclinic NULL.com/health/meditation/HQ01070) have wonderful tips and free resources)
4. Research and interview practitioners.
Your doctors, midwives, doulas, or other birth supporters need to be just that: supporters. Interview them about their work with high-risk pregnancies, their feelings about you going into a pregnancy (ie: Would they feel comfortable working with a mom over 40? How many patients over 40 have they worked with? What would their plan for you be?) If they seem too uneasy, they are most likely not the right practitioner for you.
5. Prepare for the nay-sayers.
Choose who you share your pregnancy-after-40 plans with judiciously. You can’t make everyone understand your decision to enter motherhood at 40. Just like you can’t wish for world peace and expect it to occur.
6. Realize it’s okay to ask for help.
The Beatles had it right: “I get by with a little help from my friends.” If you need more than your friends—seek it out. Professionals with a specialization in fertility and pregnancy exist, as do groups, and online support systems. AChildAfter40 now offers local support and social groups as well as online support forums for women over 40 who are trying to conceive. Join those with abundance.
7. Have a Contingency Plan.
And if things don’t work out—know what your contingency plan might be. Is adoption an option? Choosing to be child-free? Donor eggs? Women who feel like they have choices tend to be able to bear with the journey to motherhood more easily than those that feel boxed in.
8. Take the Plunge.
Pregnancy for most women is a leap of faith. You are no different. Ultimately, you just have to try and hope for the best.
Notes for this blog:
Julie Bindeman, Psy-D is a psychologist that has specialized post-doctoral training in infertility, postpartum mood disorders, and pregnancy loss. She writes about these experiences in reproductive psychology for a variety of blogs, as they are part of the “dark side” of motherhood that isn’t spoken about. She hopes to create more of a public understanding and acceptance around nontraditional choices and reproductive struggles.
She’s a member of ASRM (http://www NULL.asrm NULL.org) (American Society of Reproductive Medicine); APA (http://www NULL.apa NULL.org) (American Psychological Association); and on the Board of Directors of MPA (http://www NULL.marylandpsychology NULL.org) (Maryland Psychological Association). You can follow her on Twitter: @drjulieb or “like” her on Facebook (https://www NULL.facebook NULL.com/julie NULL.bindeman). She is currently Co-Director of the Integrative Therapy of Greater Washington (http://www NULL.GreaterWashingtonTherapy NULL.com) (www.drjulieb.com (http://www NULL.drjulieb NULL.com))
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