I share this food tip from my experience and other women who conceived naturally after 35 and 40. Eat as if you are pregnant.
I don’t mean fulfilling the myth of the pregnant woman eating for two which involves consuming large food portions! Researchers say this type of overeating is unhealthy for the mother and baby.
In an article with WebMD, Julie Redfern, RD, LDN, a registered dietitian at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston says, “Many women who do ‘eat for two’ end up gaining an excessive amount of weight.”
How Much Nutrients
According to the article, you should increase the amount of certain nutrients. However, you need only about 300 more calories per day. Redfern says this is about the equivalent of “one slice of whole grain bread and one tablespoon of peanut butter.”
You increase your risk of gestational diabetes, backaches, high blood pressure, and other health problems for you and your baby, if you put on too much weight during pregnancy.
My Healthy Definition
My definition of eating healthier means cutting back on the sugary, salty snacks and eliminating soft drinks. You can add fruits that are naturally sweet like grapes, strawberries or cherries to your meals.
The American Pregnancy Association recommends maintaining a diet of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean meats, and dairy products with the recommended dietary allowance of vitamins and minerals for proper reproductive functioning.
You should begin making healthy nutrition changes 3 months to a year before you conceive (Source: American Pregnancy Association) . Evidence shows that healthy nutrition and fertility is linked in both men and women. My translation: get your husband on board when you begin your nutritional journey.
You may not be pregnant yet, but you can start today eating as if you are carrying a child in your womb. The most important thing is to stay healthy so that you can deliver a healthy baby!
If you’re a first time expectant mother over 35 or over 40, sometimes— finding emotional support for your pregnancy can be as be as challenging as finding an American teenager who doesn’t own a cell phone!
The first words out of your doctor’s mouth upon confirming your pregnancy may not be congratulations but may be monologue filled with negative statistics about pregnancy after 35 which show an increased risk of high blood pressure, diabetes, cesarean birth and chromosomal defects. Or your doctor may suggest a series of tests available to older expectant moms or ask if your pregnancy was planned.
Unfortunately, this insensitiveness for pregnancy after 35 is not limited to some in the medical community. You may be hit with a variety of comments saying you’re too old to give birth or that you should consider your age when your baby goes to first- grade, becomes a teenager, gets married and so forth. These comments can come from well-meaning relatives to friends to strangers.
How do you handle so much negativity during a time when you are most vulnerable?
1-Realize Pregnancy Hormones Are At Work
The first tip is to remember your pregnant body is undergoing hormone changes which not only affect you physically, but emotionally as well.
Translation: Comments you wouldn’t have given a second thought during your pre-pregnancy state can make you sad or angry during pregnancy. This is true whether you are an expectant mom age 22 or age 42.
Choose your thoughts wisely. Like a gardener who pulls the weeds out of her flowerbed, pull the negative thoughts from your mind. Replace them through concentration on positive and uplifting thoughts.
2- Find Moms Who Have Been Through What You’re Going Through
Having a supportive friend, ideally one who is a first time mom over 35, you can talk to about your ups and downs will be invaluable during this time. There are also online group of expectant moms over 35 and over 40. If the online groups don’t fit your style, establish your own or join our InSeason Mom group on Facebook. If you don’t like any of these choices, email me and I’ll give you encouragement!
3- Remember Medical Studies based on Group Not Individual Results
Medical studies citing the risk factors for pregnant women over 35 and 40 are based on the results of midlife pregnant women when studied as a group. The studies are not based on your individual health history. The truth is any pregnant woman of any age may experience high blood pressure, diabetes, cesarean birth and chromosomal defects.
According to Dr. Glade B. Curtis, author of Your Pregnancy After 35, today, many healthcare professionals gauge pregnancy risk by a pregnant woman health status not her age.
4- Follow Doctor’s Orders
Make every effort to follow the advice of your doctor which should include getting plenty of rest, eating healthy, refraining from smoking, drinking alcohol, and taking anything that is toxic to your body or your unborn child.
5- Embrace Mental and Spiritual Health
“People run their mouth” is one of my husband’s favorite sayings, which means everyone has an opinion. Opinions are not necessarily truth.
When well-meaning folks cite how old you will be when your baby enters first grade or goes to college, ask them how old you will be in the same length of time if you didn’t give birth. Hopefully, they’ll get the point. We grow older regardless if we pursue motherhood in our late 30s or 40s. Therefore, it’s important to make our lives count by pursuing our goals. Personally, I believe the adage, “Your life is a gift from God, what you do with it is your gift back to Him.”
Current or former profession(s): I have worked abroad quite a bit (Egypt, Dubai, Mexico) and international business is my career passion. Since living in New York, I work for a medical device company.
How long were you trying to get pregnant?
We were very fortunate and got pregnant right away in the first month we tried. We decided to try for a late spring/summer birth month and voilá! I thought it would take a couple of months at least.
However, it wasn’t completely smooth sailing at the beginning. We had two doctors tell us we weren’t pregnant and that we’d had a chemical pregnancy! Although I knew something was happening, we were in limbo for about two weeks. Finally, the HGC blood test (it test your levels 48 hours apart) results came back. My levels were rising nicely. Okay, I thought to myself, so we ARE pregnant and then glorious 9 months followed.
What did you do or not do to increase your chances of getting pregnant after 35?
We did not take my age into consideration when we were trying to conceive. It was pretty simple – I knew my cycle and we had a time frame to try. What we did not do is stress.
On another note: When I thought that we had a chemical pregnancy, it opened my eyes to how much time and effort getting pregnant could really take, as well as the emotions involved. I am very grateful to have had this realization. It makes me appreciate Dean even more.
How supportive were your doctors during your pregnancy?
My doctor is the one who joked with me about the AMA(advanced maternal age) he had to put after my name on my charts. He said, “for NYC you’re a baby”. So, that’s very supportive, I guess!
Did you change doctors or would like to have changed doctors? Why or why not?
I changed doctors before we conceived. I was not happy with other OBGYN’s I had gone to previously in the city. My GP (general practitioner) recommended Dr. Andrew Scheinfeld and he only takes patients who are pregnant or trying. He is an expert at pregnancy and delivering babies – which is what I wanted and what I got!
Family and Friends
What was the reaction of friends and family when you told me about your pregnancy?
My in-laws were elated and surprised. We put t-shirts on our niece and nephew with the words “number one cousins” on the front with our due date on the back. It took them a while and a little encouragement to realize what those shirts meant. Once they realized what it meant, they were ecstatic. Nothing was ever said about my age.
When we surprised my mother, I learned something that day. She came to New York (I’m from St Louis and that’s where most of my family lives) to visit and to celebrate her birthday with Josh (my husband) and me. When we decided to tell her the news, I made her a birthday cake and wrote “#1 Grandma” on it. We walked out and presented her with the cake. She was so surprised, but then noticed what was written on top.
She thought we were making fun of her age and just calling her a grandma! It turns out she wasn’t expecting me to have children. She thought I was just focused on career and other things. Once she realized that I was pregnant, she teared up and was so happy. Even though she wanted grandchildren very much, she did not burden me with that pressure. and I am very thankful for that. I am even more thankful that she is now a Grandmother, Grammy T!
On another note, anyone who has children later in life risks losing someone close to them before it can happen. I lost my father 3 years ago to cancer. Every day I think about how he would be as a grandfather, but it wasn’t meant to be. He never put any pressure on me to have children, either. I’m sure that if he had seen “Grandpa” on his cake, I would have learned something that day, too.
Labor and Delivery
What do you remember most about the birth experience?
Luckily I remember everything. I’m not THAT old! Since we did not know the gender, the best part was hearing, “it’s a boy” and then seeing this amazing little boy held before us, behind the clear curtain. I had a gentle C- section. Dean was breech for almost the entire pregnancy. My husband and I felt like we already knew the little guy the moment we laid eyes on him!
I AM MOM
What concerns you most about being a mom over 35 and how do you address these concerns?
Having a second child. I don’t think I will have time to mentally prepare for that, before it is a little too late. Another concern is one that any parent has, being around for them as long as possible. This motivates me to stay fit and healthy.
What do you enjoy most about being an older mom?
I’m just enjoying being a mom! You cannot truly describe the feelings it brings or the experience with words. It’s the best thing I have ever had the privilege to do.
How has becoming a mom changed you?
Everything has a bit more meaning. Also, I’m much better utilizing the time that I have everyday. It’s hard to procrastinate these days!
What advice do you have for women considering motherhood after 35?
Don’t read (focus) too much into what you read about– articles like if it is the best time for you to try for a family or to add to your family. Do it your way and don’t let anyone tell you how you should feel or what you should fear.
How important is pampering yourself for pregnancy after 35 or 40? Pampering is essential because it can relieve stress. If you’ve been trying to conceive for a while, the entire progress can take a mental toil. Countless studies show that dealing with stress over a long period of time has a negative impact on conception.
What the Experts Say
Women who reported feeling more stressed during their ovulatory window were approximately 40-percent less likely to conceive during that month than other less stressful months, research shows-Science Daily
During stressful times, your body releases a hormone called adrenalin. This hormone tells the body that conditions are not ideal for conception.-Natural Fertility Intro.
While it is human nature to grasp onto statistics to help predict the chance of something happening for us, in many ways being too married to these numbers has an adverse effect on our psyche, stress. In turn, this stress has an adverse effect on our body. Mind stress plus body stress does not foster a good environment for conception-Kristin Beltaos, November-December 2011 InSeason Featured Mom
Take a Pamper Yourself Day Weekly
Pick a day you choose to do an activity or a few activities that you enjoy. Dance or listen to your favorite music. Take a walk in the park. Read or watch something funny. Make sure the activity you choose is one that you enjoy and will lower your stress level.
My Unplanned Pamper Yourself Minutes
Recently, while I was shopping with my daughters, I took time to allow Jasmine the Artist to show me how a small amount of makeup facial foundation could help me look younger and bring out my best features (see photos below).
I was pleased with the results and happy that I took a few unplanned minutes to pamper myself. It felt great!
What did you do or not do to
increase your chances of getting pregnant after 40?
I was on the contraceptive pill from the age of 17. I never had a break from it; I was on it continuously. I stopped taking the contraceptive pill in March 2016 and fell pregnant just over a year later in April 2017.
I have many friends who have had trouble falling pregnant or staying pregnant, and friends who have had IVF treatment. My husband and I knew from the word go that if it did not happen for us naturally, then we would not go down the IVF route. We felt it (the IVF route) was physically and mentally draining. We also didn’t want to become one of those couples who obsess about getting pregnant. We were determined to not let it take over our lives, or indeed, our sex lives as we felt it then becomes unhealthy.
After 9 months of not being on the contraceptive pill and no sign of pregnancy, I decided to book an appointment at my doctors, something I had not done before, to at least see if I was fertile. It should be noted that my husband had a fertility test prior to me coming off the pill. We felt that if he wasn’t fertile, then there was not point in us trying. For some, this may seem very black and white, but every couple has their limitations and starting points. I suppose for us, that was ours. My husband’s sperm count was normal.
In the UK, some fertility treatment before the age of 40, is free on our National Health Service however, over the age of 40, it is not. This was pointed out to me when I visited the doctor and I explained that that was fine as I wouldn’t want to go down that route any way. So in January 2017, I engaged in a series of initial routine fertility tests and it was at the very last one, which involved an internal examination. The nurse asked me the date of my last period? I said, ” the 21st March”. She nearly fell off her chair as it was the 2nd May at this point! She suggested I go take a pregnancy test. So I did. It was positive!
SUPPORT DURING PREGNANCY
supportive were your doctors during your pregnancy?
The doctors I saw during my pregnancy were extremely supportive. I did ask to not see a particular doctor again during a routine check-up as I found her manner somewhat condescending and a little rude. This was not a problem and I was assigned a fabulous doctor who stayed with me throughout my pregnancy and postnatal too.
In the UK, there is a schedule of midwife appointments you have to attend throughout your entire pregnancy. Every midwife I saw was absolutely brilliant, supportive, knowledgeable and offered excellent advice. Due to my age, I had additional appointments including one with a consultant to monitor me and my baby. He was supportive and always answered the questions we had. I felt that me and my baby were very cared for.
was the reaction of friends and family when you told them about your pregnancy?
It’s probably a slight understatement to say that my friends and family were shocked when I told them I was pregnant. No one knew we were even trying to conceive or that I had had a series of tests done. I never wanted the added pressure of people asking me “how things were going” on the pregnancy/baby-making front. Plus I think it is a very private matter and not one up for discussion! In addition, most people who know me thought I never wanted children, so I think that added to the total surprise when I told them I was!!
I only told my bestest friends and our parents after our 12 week scan, and then they were sworn to secrecy. We only really started telling people when I started to show around 5 months. One set of friends saw me at a wedding when I was 6 months pregnant and didn’t even notice!
LABOR AND DELIVERY EXPERIENCE
What do you remember most about the birth experience?
I had the most amazing pregnancy. I kept fit, went running, walked my dog and I even rode my horse up until 10 days before I gave birth! On New Year’s Eve, 2017, I had a ‘show’ at 10.30am. I made my husband come with me to the stables to muck out my horse before my waters broke or the contractions started.
Long story short, around 6pm, my contractions started kicking in and over the course of about 3 hours. l managed to go 8 centimeters dilated at home with no pain relief. When we got to the hospital and the midwife checked me, they whisked me off to a birthing room. They got the birthing pool ready, as that was my wish, to have my baby in a birthing pool.
All seemed to be going well and I was coping really well and managing the pain. However, sadly when my waters did finally break, it was in the birthing pool. The midwife noticed the water had gone a greenly color meaning that my baby had excreted inside me. So I had to get out of the pool.
Over the course of another 12 hours (I’d opted for an epidural after a couple more hours), I only managed to go another 1.5 centimeters dilated. They discovered that my baby was actually back-to-back with his chin up and not tucked in. Around 9.00am on New Year’s Day, a consultant came to speak to me and my husband about our options. It seemed very likely that I would need an emergency C-section.
I’m not going to lie, that was my worst fear, and me and my husband sobbed whilst we digested the information we were given and the risks that were involved. Ralph was born by C-section at 11.25am. I don’t remember much about it as they had to sedate me quite heavily to stitch me back up as my stomach muscles were so tight. Nevertheless, he was out safely!
I’M A MUM/MOM!
you have any concerns about being a mom over 40? If so, how do you address
Honestly, no! I don’t have any concerns about being a mum over 40, as I feel I have so much to offer my son BECAUSE I am over 40.
do you enjoy most about being a first time mom over 40?
I feel so lucky to have a gorgeous son. I realize now that children are the greatest gift of all. I feel that because I had my son later in life, I have been able to live my life to the full up until this point. And, he is the next, most remarkable chapter!
I have had 4 different careers up until I had him. I feel I would not have been able to do if I’d have had him when I was younger. I feel more financially stable, more confident, mature and feel quite happy ‘winging’ motherhood. Ralph is so much fun and we have the best time doing lots of different things: meeting other mums and babies, attending baby groups and classes, experiencing things I never knew I would. It’s great!
has becoming a mom changed you?
I think if you asked my family and close friends how becoming a mum has changed me, they would definitely say it has had a calming effect on me. Whilst Ralph and I are always out doing something or as a family (including our pets) we’re always busy. I’m definitely not as wild or as manic as I used to be. Having children definitely makes you put things into perspective and makes you focus on the really important things in life.
Also, as I had post-natal depression, I think I really appreciate everything I have and everyone who supported me and my family unit during that dark time. And weirdly, since becoming a mum, I love my husband even more than I did before. He is so supportive and is a wonderful father to our son.
BECOMING A MUM/MOM AFTER 40 ADVICE
advice do you have for women considering motherhood after 40?
If you wish to ‘live your years’ before having
children, then I see no problem with having a baby over 40, as long as you are
fit and healthy. And as they say, age is merely a number!
I know I would never have been up to the job if I had done it when I was younger. As an older mum, I feel more confident in the decisions I have to make as they are based on experience and wisdom.
I may have had 4 different careers but this, this is the best job ever!
InSeason Mom Cynthia thanks Natalie for encouraging women across the globe by sharing her pregnancy and birth story as a first time mum/mom over 40. If you would like to share your story as a first time mom over 35 or 40, please email email@example.com