Natural pregnancy over 40 was not only possible for Holly (pictured above with daughter Lucy) from Colorado, but she now dispels fears of other women considering motherhood after 40. Here is Featured InSeason Mom Holly’s pregnancy and birth story:
Age you gave birth: 43
State of residence: Colorado
Child’s name: Lucy
Current or former profession(s): Social work graduate student and freelance writer
How long were you trying to get pregnant?
What did you do or not do to increase your chances of getting pregnant after 40?
I don’t smoke cigarettes and I didn’t drink alcohol during the time I was trying to conceive. I was also seeing an acupuncturist at the time to address sinus issues. According to Chinese medicine principles, Acupuncture is designed to unblock one’s chi (energy flow) and create a free flow of life force energy throughout the body.
Acupuncturists believe that women have low fertility due to congested areas in the body which block their chi. Freeing up the flow of energy facilitates and encourages fertility. And while I didn’t seek out acupuncture for that purpose, it definitely increased the chances of pregnancy and sped up the process significantly. I also took a prenatal vitamin with folic acid.
MEDICAL COMMUNITY SUPPORT
How supportive were your doctors during your pregnancy?
For the most part, the doctors and other medical staff were very supportive. I had a managed-care system of health care at the time, which worked out to my advantage. There were many different providers from which to choose and, upon deciding that I didn’t click with the personality of the initial OB/GYN, I was able to choose a new one without any problem.
The prenatal care included multiple free visits with the OB, 3 visits with a specialist in high risk pregnancy, and various other types of frequent monitorings such as non-stress tests. I was lucky in that my health insurance provider has a standard practice for all pregnant women over 35 that includes the aforementioned services. I felt very well cared for.
Did you change doctors or would like to have changed doctors? Why or why not?
I did change doctors about halfway through the pregnancy. I felt that the original doctor did not make herself available for questions and did not fully explain the answers to the questions I did have. She did not seem sensitive to the fact that this was my first pregnancy and I had no idea what to expect. She just had a bad bedside manner. I chose a new doctor through the network and was very pleased with her. She walked me through the process slowly and explained how my situation was different from a typical pregnancy due to age and high-risk status.
FAMILY AND FRIENDS SUPPORT
What was the reaction of friends and family when you told them about your pregnancy?
They were all excited and happy for me. It should be noted that I didn’t tell anyone I was trying to get pregnant, so there was no pressure or unsolicited opinions from my social circle or family members. I didn’t receive any negative feedback about my age.
LABOR AND DELIVERY
What do you remember most about the birth experience?
I had high blood pressure throughout the pregnancy and it was necessary to induce labor once I reached full term at 37 weeks. This was 2 weeks earlier than I had planned.
The main things I remember about the experience are these:
I felt absolute terror about the physical pain that would be involved once the process began. Once I got the epidural, all that changed and I was so much more comfortable than I thought I’d be. I was so happy that I decided to do it in a hospital, surrounded by medical personnel who knew what they were doing. While a C-section is more likely with an epidural, that was not the case for us. Thank goodness!
A few people gave me the advice of going on 30-minute walks 3-4 times per week and doing squats daily in preparation for labor. I started doing that in the 6 weeks leading up to delivery. Wow, they were so right! I was able to get the baby out in 4 pushes. The nurses remarked several times about how strong I was.
I’M A MOM!
Do you have any concerns about being a mom over 40? If so, how do you address these concerns?
I’m probably like most other moms over 40 in that I’m afraid I’ll die too soon to see her graduate, get married, have kids, etc. But as far as I can tell, that fear is utter nonsense. It is statistically way more likely than not that I’ll live into my 80s and get to hang out with my 40-year-old daughter. That said, I feel compelled to stay in decent shape so I don’t throw out my back hauling the kid up and down the stairs.
I do calisthenics workouts in my living room (7-10 minutes tops) and I take my daughter and pug out for 30-minute walks a few days a week. It keeps me feeling strong enough to handle what motherhood throws at me. I used to want to be in shape just to look good but now I have a whole new, more worthwhile reason to be fit. And I’m so much more motivated because the pay-off is immediate. It only takes a few weeks of doing pushups and core exercises to make a significant difference in your strength and fitness.
What do you enjoy most about being a first-time mom over 40?
I love that I got to experience so many things in my 20’s and 30’s, free as a bird to live life the way I wanted and see the things I saw. I don’t have to wonder what life would have been like if I didn’t have kids because I already experienced it. I also have the calm attitude that comes with time and I know how to manage stress. I don’t get rattled easily.
Also, I grew up without the internet or cell phones and I’ve had a job since high school. I feel well equipped to ensure my daughter has the skills to succeed in life, part of which will be knowing how to entertain herself without an iPad.
How has becoming a mom changed you?
In most ways, I’d say I haven’t changed much at all. It has been surprisingly easy to incorporate Lucy into my regular routine and lifestyle. What has changed is that I feel I have a deeper connection to humanity in general. I suddenly care more for all kids around me; I think about the world they will live in and what life will be like after I’m gone. Now that I have a direct descendant I’m more emotionally attached to the next generation. I’m excited to see who they’ll grow to become and what things are important to them.
I’m also more motivated to make money in different ways. I’m doing a variety of things to bring in money so I can help provide for my family.
What advice do you have for women considering motherhood after 40?
Go for it!!! Don’t worry about being too old. I’m in better shape now than I was in my 30’s. I remember reading and hearing so many negative things about giving birth after a certain age and it scared me to death. It wasn’t until I reconnected with an old friend who had 2 kids after 40 that I began to feel okay about going ahead with it. I was so freaked out, thinking for sure my child would be severely disabled or that I would be putting myself in physical danger. But that just isn’t the case for most people having babies in “advanced maternal age.” I worked in the field of developmental disabilities for over 20 years and rare was the case that a child’s disability was directly related to the mother’s age.
I encourage other women to mentally prepare themselves for feeling like they’re having a nervous breakdown for the first few months of the child’s life. It’s okay to feel totally overwhelmed. The adjustment period is bound to be a little harder for us older gals because we’ve been grown women for much longer than the 20 and 30-somethings. It can be a huge shock to the system to make such a big change later in life. But after the initial shock wears off, you’ll probably find that you’re way more prepared for this now than you would have been 15 or 20 years before. The timing is just right.
InSeason Mom Cynthia would like to thank Holly for sharing her inspiring pregnancy and birth story. Check out her website Mom In Phase Two. Are you a first time mom over 35, over 40? Email firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com for details to share your encouraging pregnancy and birth story.