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Why Motherhood Over 40 Is A Fine Vintage

By Angel LaLiberte

Over the last decade, the number of women in the UK having children over 40 has doubled. It all began with cultural shifts dating back to the 1970’s, when the advent of widespread birth control resulted in more women opting for higher education, careers and delayed motherhood. Today, women are integral to our workforce and national economy, as many families now depend on a two-paycheck household.

With modern advances in reproductive medicine occurring at a breath-taking speed, we may soon break the “age barrier” on motherhood. At the very least, it’s unlikely the genie of later life motherhood will ever return to a more youthful vessel.

In the midst of so much change, it’s wise to take stock of the current facts about motherhood after 40.


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Fertility challenges in midlife women

The truth is that natural fertility begins to decline from age 35 and even more rapidly from 40 onward. This is caused by hormonal fluctuations and decreasing quality of oocytes (eggs) as we begin the approach to menopause. More than half of women between the ages of 40-44 are expected to remain childless and have a 35% risk of miscarriage. Forty-year-old women have a 1 in 100 risk of chromosomal abnormality in newborns. Expectant mothers are more likely to have health conditions such as high blood pressure, or gestational diabetes.


Facing an age-sensitive healthcare system

Midlife expectant mothers often experience extraordinary emotional and physical pressure imposed upon them by the healthcare system. They are immediately identified with negative-sounding labels such as “elderly primigravida” for first-time mothers, and “advanced maternal age” if they are over 35. Mature pregnant mothers may experience more rigorous and invasive prenatal procedures including stress testing, or amniocentesis. They are constantly reminded of the risks of fetal genetic anomalies, miscarriage, and other disorders. They face higher rate of C-section births. In the U.S.A, childbirth educators, midwives and doulas report that there are rising numbers of women over 40 seeking their services. Many have observed that later life mothers - often career women - sometimes feel the need to have greater control over pregnancy, and can be more anxious about risks. Longer term, later life mothers are more likely to have a limited peer support network, extended family, or parents around to help. So, what could possibly be the upside to all this?


Later mothers bring abundant benefits

Women over 40 bring many benefits and resources to motherhood that enable to them to make the most out of a longer life expectancy. Having waited so long, they are more likely to dedicate themselves to being healthy both during pregnancy and parenting in the long run. What’s more, a 2007 California study showed that new mothers over 50 years of age were just as capable as younger mothers with the stress of parenting. Older women are more likely to breastfeed their babies. They are also known to be more patient and relaxed about parenting. After dedicating their 20’s and 30’s to personal growth and self discovery, they are more than ready to devote themselves to children in their 40’s and onward. And, with the benefits of successful careers behind them, they are more likely to be financially secure and able to provide well for their children. Most importantly, many have struggled to become mothers - perhaps having faced challenging and expensive infertility treatments, endured a stressful pregnancy, or the fear of being forever childless. Their gratitude is deeply felt - and their children are the greatest beneficiaries of all.


About Angel LaLiberte

Angel La Liberte is the founder of Flower Power Mom.com - The Truth About Motherhood After 40 (www.flowerpowermom.com), a website featuring commentary, real mom stories, and expert advice about motherhood after 40. Angel gave birth to her children at 41 and 44, after conceiving naturally. She actively advocates for more supportive attitudes towards women having children in midlife and to raise awareness of the real issues related to later life motherhood. She also hosts “A Child After 40”, an online community to empower all women on the journey of motherhood after 40.

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