Part 2 Of A 4 Part Series On Midlife Motherhood!

Do you think there's nothing good anyone has to say about pregnancy, birth and babies for women age 40 or better? As you will read here, "older" moms have many advantages their younger counterparts don't.
Ann Silberman

Articles in this series:
Ready for a baby | Picture-perfect pregnancies
Feedback & finances | Midlife mothering

Aches and pains
These women are having babies in record numbers. Despite all the warnings, the vast majority of these women experience no problems with either their pregnancies or raising their children. Women over 40 are often acutely aware of the risks associated with pregnancy, and we'd much rather discuss the unique experiences of being pregnant at this age. So, what are they?

Is it physically harder to be pregnant over 40? According to 45-year-old Charlotte Standish, the answer is a resounding no. "If you are fit and in good general health, there is not much difference between having a baby in your 20s than your 40s," she says. "I was working out and swimming until the day I gave birth to my three children at ages 37, 41 and 43." Sandra Barnett, who is 41 and pregnant with her second child, echoes this sentiment, "I do not believe that I am having a harder time than if I was in my 20s, because I'm in physically good shape."

"'Old' is often more a mind set than a physical process," says M Kelly Shanahan, an Ob/Gyn and author of Your Over-35 Week-by-Week Pregnancy Guide (Prima). "I tell [my patients] that while it is true that certain complications are more common in us older moms -- miscarriage, preterm labor, hypertension -- I would far prefer to take care of a healthy, motivated 40-year-old than a smoking, junk-food-eating, 'Yeah, whatever' 20-year-old"

Kristin Keyes became pregnant at 40, and had her daughter, Kyra, at 41. "I had a pregnancy that makes anyone I tell extremely jealous," says this mom from Horsham, Pennsylvania. "I never had morning sickness, I only gained about 16 pounds during the pregnancy, and within two weeks after the pregnancy I lost close to 40 pounds -- I was a little heavy going into the pregnancy -- my blood pressure went down to the lowest it has ever been," she says. "All in all, it was an invigorating and fun experience for me."

Of course, in some cases pregnancy might be a bit more difficult for midlife women than for women in their twenties. Some older women report feeling more tired, and often their bones, ligaments, and muscles are not as strong. Traci Miller, 41, mother of a 12 year old and now expecting her second child, does report some round-ligament discomfort and says, "I seem to have more aches and pains than I remember from my first pregnancy." However she adds, "I don't know if this is because I have forgotten; my first pregnancy was so long ago."

Skin care is another trouble-spot for the older pregnant mom. We are in the unique position of having hormonal swings that can often cause breakouts within our wrinkles. A good skin care routine is an important part of self-care during this time, and a trip to the spa for a facial and some expert advice might be in order.

Whatever the state of your physical health, one thing we over 40 moms have over younger mothers is the perspective we are able to bring to a difficult situation. Traci said it best when she said she didn't mind her extra problems because, "I understand the gift that pregnancy is, and value it so much more now."

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