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by: Better Not Younger
May 02, 2022
More women than ever are choosing to become first-time moms at 40 and beyond. We've been hearing for years that 40 is the new 30, and the increase in women having their first pregnancy over 40 shows that 40 isn't too late for women who want to become mothers. (Some women even experience a miracle pregnancy after menopause!)
We hear a lot about shifting family dynamics in our 40s when we send our kids off to college. But what about those of us who waited until later in life to conceive? Or those of us who struggled with conception or full-term deliveries, and only became mothers for the first time in our 40s? Our families are changing, too, just in a much different way! Knowing what to expect when you have your first pregnancy over 40 can be hard because pregnancy content tends to focus on moms in their 20s and 30s.
So, we compiled some pros and cons of having a baby at 40, along with what first-time moms at 40 can expect during pregnancy. Read on to learn more about the benefits of having children later in life.
Women who are asked about the pros and cons of having a baby at 40 consistently say that greater stability was a major benefit. And this makes sense. When we're younger and just starting out, the world is overwhelming! We don't know where our relationships, careers and education will take us. But by our 40s we generally have a better grasp on our life path.
Milvia Bermudez, a business administrator from Bolívar State, Venezuela, gave birth for the first time in her 40s—and her stability enabled her to better provide for her daughter. "Because I was raising my daughter in my 40s, I was more prepared as I had already completed my career goals,” says Bermudez. “ I collected years of experience as a professional, which gave me the financial stability needed to assume the responsibilities for my daughter."
40 is the new 30, but not in terms of maturity. Another big reason older moms say they waited to have their first pregnancy over 40 is that they lacked maturity in their youth. Waiting to become first-time moms in their 40s ensured they were better prepared for the full responsibilities of parenthood.
"I always defended the idea that women should take time to prepare themselves and get to know themselves better before having children,” says Bermudez. “Enjoy life without kids, and then enjoy it with them. They are both different experiences, and you have to give yourself that opportunity."
When Bermudez gave birth in her 40s, she says her emotional maturity was an asset. "I was a much more patient person by this time,” she says. “I loved taking care of a newborn and seeing her grow. I felt very active and more prepared for the changes in life, and I felt amazing raising my daughter as an older mom."
Chances are, your friends who had children had them earlier in life. This means they are treasure troves of knowledge about what to expect! And your inner circle of friends and family are less likely to sugarcoat the realities of childbirth and motherhood. Don't be afraid to ask them questions and lean on them for support if you’re going through your first pregnancy over 40.
Bonus: They're also a great source for hand-me-downs! Brand-new baby clothes, toys and furniture are expensive. If your sister, friend or colleague is done having children, you might even be doing them a favor by clearing their house of the clutter of baby items their kids have outgrown!
The medical community considers any pregnancy after age 35 a "geriatric" pregnancy. And though it's true that women's fertility declines as we age, the drop off isn't as steep as doctors originally thought. Plus, the statistic that 1 in 5 women over 35 won't have conceived after 1 year of trying comes from 18th century France. We've made vast improvements in medicine in the last 300 years!
Even though older mothers have healthy pregnancies all the time, there is an increased risk of requiring a c-section, rather than having a vaginal birth. This risk can be due to a variety of factors, such as increased risk of gestational diabetes and greater odds of having bigger babies, which can make vaginal birth difficult.
But don't let this increase scare you. For context, the risk of having a medically large baby (greater than 10lbs) increases from 6% for younger women to 10% for older women. And your doctor can discuss strategies with you for minimizing these risks, such as the best ways to keep gestational diabetes under control.
Be prepared for tons of comments and questions from well-meaning people, especially toward the end of the pregnancy. Though many first-time moms are happy to talk about their pregnancy or their new baby, it can become exhausting!
Be sure to prioritize your own mental health. Pregnancy can be a roller coaster of emotions: excitement, anxiety, happiness, worry—these are completely normal! If fielding tons of questions is draining you, try outsourcing them to your spouse or partner. Don't be afraid to be honest that you're excited about the baby but aren't feeling up to answering tons of questions!
Many women experience fuller, lusher hair and glowing skin during pregnancy! Pregnancy doesn't make the hair strand thicker, but it instead keeps your hair in the growth (anagen) phase longer, which means less hair fall.
However, many women experience hair loss—known as postpartum alopecia—two to five months after pregnancy. To maximize how much of that healthy pregnancy hair sticks around, show your scalp some love during and after pregnancy with a nourishing treatment specifically designed to support healthy hair. Try our Superpower Fortifying Hair & Scalp Serum to nourish your scalp and support healthy follicular activity!
Another great way to support your hair during and after pregnancy is to incorporate a collagen supplement. (Even though our bodies produce collagen and collagen is generally safe, any supplements you take during pregnancy should be approved by your doctor.) Our tropical fruit-flavored Power Within Skin & Scalp Collagen Gummies provide a delicious, convenient way to add collagen to your diet to support strong, healthy skin and hair during and after pregnancy!
Our energy levels change in our 20s, 30s, 40s and beyond, so this one might not be a surprise. But no matter your age at conception, there are steps you can take to keep tiredness to a minimum during pregnancy. Eating a healthy diet, incorporating exercise as approved by your OB/GYN, and taking your prenatal vitamins consistently can all help.
Listening to your body and taking extra rest breaks are also important. After all, our bodies are incredible, and it's taxing to nurture and grow a baby!
Getting pregnant after 40 comes with more frequent testing and monitoring of both you and baby. New moms over 40 are more susceptible to issues like preeclampsia and gestational diabetes, so your OB/GYN may want you to check in more often.
"Before you decide to become a mom over 40, it’s important to have a doctor by your side and be taking care of yourself," says Bermudez. "Prepare yourself so that when you get pregnant, you have knowledge of what you need to pay attention to, like blood pressure and how your nutrition should be for the healthy growth of the fetus. Nowadays medicine is very advanced, which gave me confidence about being a mother over 40."
If you've been struggling to conceive, you might be wondering how to get pregnant at 40. Is it even possible?
Yes, and you're not alone. Many women seeking to become first-time moms at 40 use egg donation or IVF treatments to conceive. (And even though examples of women experiencing a miracle pregnancy after menopause have been in the news recently, this rarely happens without medical intervention.)
IVF treatment for pregnancy at 40 years old statistically offers a greater success rate than natural conception, but this doesn't mean you have to go the IVF route when weighing your options for how to get pregnant at 40. Be sure to talk to your doctor about all of your choices!
IVF can also take a toll on your hair because it changes your hormones, but IVF usually doesn't result in hair loss. Instead, IVF treatments increase estrogen, and successful IVF procedures that result in pregnancy often bring the benefit of healthy, thick hair.
But if you do find yourself dealing with thinning hair and increased hair fall following your IVF treatments, talk with your doctor. You can also add a hair thickening spray like Better Not Younger's Lift Me Up Hair Thickener, which wraps around each strand to help your hair appear instantly thicker and gives your locks a major volume boost!
Tell Us: Were you a new mom over 40? Share your thoughts on the benefits of having children later in life in the comments below!
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