How Pregnancy Is Different in Your 40s
Pregnancy in your 40’s is not a rare thing. Women have been having babies in their early, mid, and sometimes their late 40’s for a long time. I won’t address the how or the why in this post. This post also isn’t to meant to join the voices of those individuals who say it is too hard, too risky, not possible, and so on. I am just being real with you based on my experience.
As someone who recently had a baby at 41 (3 months shy of 42), I can tell you things were a little different this pregnancy. It had been almost ten years since I had been pregnant and let’s just say so much had changed. Not just because of my age. I mean all the new pregnancy and baby products on the market now manufactured to make your life easier (or more difficult) to choose. It was exciting and made my head spin all at once. Then there is the whole “geriatric mother thing” I mean really, can they not come up with something kinder? As if my body was not already alerting me of my age with this pregnancy, every doctor’s appointment to my perinatologist reminded me of it too.
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Positive Pregnancy Test at 41
I will be honest. If you had told me I would be pregnant in my 40’s I would have said nope, I don’t think so. My youngest (at the time) was nine, and we thought we were done having kids. The days of sleepless nights, nursing on demand, diapers, and baby products seemed like a distant memory. But life has a way of giving you what you needed even when you didn’t know you needed it.
Once the initial shock of the positive pregnancy test wore off came the excitement. A baby! Wow, we were having another baby! Then the realization that I was older, my health much different than in my early 30s when I last had a baby, the concerns over if I would experience PPD/PPA again, oh yeah and the fact that we had precisely ZERO items for a baby. I can tell you as excited as I was I was so unbelievably nervous too. This pregnancy was so very, very different.
Mothers over 35 are considered advanced maternal age. This means not only will you be reminded of your age at your appointments you will be informed of additional recommended testing. I made sure to ask around and find a doctor who was experienced with “older” mamas. Since I was over 40, there are certain risks that I would need to be monitored for, and I wanted to make sure I had an experienced doctor. In tandem with my OB, I routinely had appointments with a perinatologist who monitored me through the first 28 weeks.
My perinatologist oversaw my growth scans and any genetic testing my husband, and I opted to complete. I was definitely more dialed in this pregnancy to possible concerns that could arise due to my age and health conditions. More so than when I was in my 30’s and hadn’t been diagnosed with Fibromyalgia and Hypothyroidism. We took our time, did research on each of these tests, discussed the risk/benefit with our doctors, and made informed decisions on which tests we felt comfortable proceeding with completing. One advantage to one of the blood tests was we found out very early on that we were having a boy!
I admit I am tired all the time anyway thanks to my thyroid. But this was a level of tired I didn’t know I could feel (well until
I was definitely more worn out this pregnancy. I made sure to listen to my body more this pregnancy and if I needed the rest I made sure to get in all the naps and early bedtimes I could. I took the opportunity to slow down and accept the care and support my family offered.
Aches and Pains
In my previous pregnancies, I was fortunate and only experienced mild sciatica that would come and go. I never experienced pelvic floor pain or round ligament pain. I only used a pregnancy wedge in the last trimester and never needed a pregnancy belt. That all changed with this pregnancy. It seemed pregnancy in my 40’s was about to introduce me to all kinds of soreness and pain I didn’t experience in my previous pregnancies. Simple trips to the grocery store or Target became unbearable.
Around 20ish weeks, I had to invest in a pregnancy belt for support. The round ligament pain was excruciating. My doctor said I could thank my round ligament pain from age and also multiple previous pregnancies. If I did too much walking the next day, I was laid up in bed unable to move. At night, I tried sleeping with a pillow between my legs, and it helped a little. I finally splurged and bought a c-shaped pillow, and it was like the heavens opened and the angels sang. It really helped my pelvic and hip pain as well as supported my big belly. I don’t think I would have made it through my pregnancy without it.
Oh The Swelling
Ok, now swelling might not be specific to only women who are pregnant in their 40’s. But my swelling was severe this pregnancy compared to my previous pregnancies. I mean REALLY bad. If you looked up severe cankles on the internet, you would find a photo of my lower extremities. My legs and feet doubled in size. I was constantly told to elevate my legs after my appointments. I got to the point where even flip flops (thankfully I can wear flip flops year round in Florida) wasn’t cutting it anymore.
My feet and legs were so swollen they actually hurt! My skin was so stretched it was cracking. I made sure to up my water intake, take frequent breaks if I had to walk or stand for long periods, and I wore these sexy compression socks. I joke about the sexiness of the compression socks, but they were a tremendous help with managing the swelling.
More Willing To Accept Help
Being an “older” mom and having been around the block once or twice has given me the knowledge that I don’t have to do it all alone. There is some truth to the saying, “it takes a village.” At this point in my life, I am more open to accepting help from others, and more importantly, I am more secure with myself and able to ask for help without feeling inadequate. I don’t need to be Supermom. I don’t need to do it all.
When the morning sickness kicked in for weeks and weeks, I relied heavily on my husband, my older children, and my family. There were days on end that I couldn’t get out of bed because I was so sick. If it weren’t for the help of my family things like grocery shopping, cooking, or cleaning wouldn’t have been done. My sister and mother were a massive help with the older kiddos. They would take them for a few days so I could rest and they could have some fun. If you are lucky enough to have folks willing to help, take them up on their offer!
Pregnancy in your 40s might have some differences from pregnancy in your 20s or 30s but one thing is for sure, I am truly blessed to have been able to experience pregnancy again. My greatest accomplishment in life is being a mom. Since this was my last baby, I made sure to soak in every moment. That meant the good and the not so good side effects that came along with my pregnancy. I didn’t take one moment for granted. And just like my previous pregnancies when I held my sweet baby boy in my arms, every ache and discomfort became a distant memory.
We Are All Different
So many factors go into our pregnancy experience. Even though I had some periods of discomfort in my pregnancy, overall I had a very healthy pregnancy. Yes, there were some days I felt less than stellar and had to make small adjustments to my routine that I didn’t have to make in previous pregnancies. But it has been so worth it, and I would do it over again in a heartbeat.
I am very confident there are pregnant women in their 40s rocking their pregnancy. I am sure they feel full of energy and positively glowing. Don’t think that just because you are in your 40s and pregnant your experience will be that same as mine. We are all unique, and so are our pregnancies. I only share my experience in case there is a mama out there struggling right now and feeling like they are alone. While pregnancy in my 40’s might have been a little more intense than pregnancy in my 30’s I wouldn’t have changed a moment of those 39 weeks (well maybe the morning sickness- I hate throwing up). I would do all over again to be able to gaze into that precious face.
Have you had a pregnancy in your 40s? What was your experience? Any tips to pass along? Please feel free to share in the comments below!