I am 43 years old, and I’m 34 weeks pregnant with my third child. Whew! And, I gotta say, pregnancy in 40s is a little bit different that it was in my 30s.
8 Ways Pregnancy Is Different In Your 40s ?
Pregnancy in 40s: The Good, Bad & Ugly
Please hear my heart: I don’t want to add to the cacophony of voices out there that speak to how hard it is to be pregnant in your 40s. Or how it’s high-risk, geriatric, crazy, dangerous, rare, impossible, and on and on.
Women have been giving birth in their forties for hundreds and hundreds of years:
- Elizabeth Hamilton, orphanage director, political activist, and wife of founding father Alexander Hamilton, had her 8th and last child at almost 45 years of age. (She ended up living to 97 back in the 1800s!)
- In fact, there are many women in their fifties who conceive naturally and go onto to have healthy children. (source)
- The oldest mom on record to conceive naturally is Dawn Brooke of the UK who gave birth to her son at 59 years old back in 1997. For moms using reproductive help, their age can be much older.
- My paternal grandmother gave birth to her last child at 41, while my maternal grandmother gave birth to my aunt at age 42 (almost 43).
The point is: Women can give birth much later than in their 30s! But, it doesn’t always mean it is easier.
And that is the tension: I want to be encouraging, but I also want to be real with you. My pregnancy in 40s is different than the ones in my 30s; and I think it’s important to be honest in the journey and not sugarcoat the experience. This would be doing a disservice to my fellow mamas!
And it’s not just me…
The more I talk to moms who were, or are, pregnant at 40 or beyond, the more I realize that I’m not alone.
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Pregnancy in 40s: A Whole Different Ballgame
I met a gal at the park the other day who said she had a baby at 38, no problem. She is now 40 and pregnant with her second child, and she told me that every day is a struggle. She couldn’t believe the difference two years could make.
A friend of mine has three daughters… she had them at 36, 38, and 40. Again, her last pregnancy at 40 was the toughest.
I also read that Joanne Gaines, who had her fifth at the age of 40, said that her recent pregnancy forced her to slow down and rest.
“I am 40, and pregnancy this time was different,” she writes via People. “I have always really enjoyed being pregnant — I tend to feel my best during those nine months. This time I felt a little more worn out than usual. But being pregnant and forced to slow down has been a gift.”
8 Ways My Pregnancy in 40s Was Different
So, in this video and post, I share the top eight ways my pregnancy in 40s was different than my previous ones:
1. More Tired.
I just don’t have the energy I did before I got pregnant. I am well into my 3rd trimester, and I still will take the occasional catnap to get through the day. By nighttime? Fuhgeddaboudit. I am pretty much “done” once the kids are in bed.
Speaking of which, yes, I have two older children to take care of so this can certainly add to the fatigue. But, they are older and relatively “self-reliant.” That is to say, it’s not like I’m chasing around toddlers in diapers! Even still, I’m more tired in this pregnancy in 40s.
With my earlier pregnancies, sure, I was exhausted in the first trimester. I remember taking naps, especially with Paloma’s pregnancy, and needing some downtime during those first 12 or 13 weeks. But by the second trimester, I was back to my old self and doing #allthethings without feeling fatigued or even pregnant.
And, I’m generally just accepting my feelings of fatigue and taking rests when I need to. After all, pregnancy is hard work!
2. More Swollen.
Move over Sean Combs, Puff Mama is in the house! 🙂 I find that I’m retaining more fluids in this pregnancy in 40s versus my others.
Full disclosure: This could very well be my fault and nothing to do with age. You see, unlike my previous births, I’m not craving protein as much. If you know anything about the Brewer Diet, eating ample protein during pregnancy can help reduce swelling, edema, and puffiness. That’s because protein builds blood volume and helps to prevent fluids from “leaking” into tissue causing swelling. On the days that I force myself to get 90-100 grams of protein, the swelling does subside. (Need some protein ideas? Check out this post.)
Either way, though, I still feel that I’m more prone to retaining fluids and swelling in this pregnancy in 40s. I also feel bigger faster—like my baby is already 14 pounds, fully engaged, and ready to come out. ?
3. Feeling Hot, Hot, Hot!
OK, keep in mind that I had my previous children in Illinois in cooler months versus Florida in the summer, but mama, I am HOT this pregnancy! I can’t get enough air conditioning, fans, cool showers, and cold drinks. At this point, I avoid going outside during the afternoon and instead run errands and get exercise early in the morning. I just get too overheated! (And I’m sure this doesn’t help in the swelling department!)
I also have occasional hot flashes in my pregnancy in 40s versus none in my 30s. I’m sure this is due to hormonal demands and different hormonal outputs. I did test my progesterone early in pregnancy and had strong levels, but still have the hot flashes nonetheless.
One positive and/or possible side effect of having perhaps less sex hormones or different levels? I had ZERO morning sickness in this pregnancy. (PRAISE THE LORD!)
4. Body Soreness.
OK, I am fortunate that I didn’t get pelvic floor pain, round ligament pain, lightning crotch, sciatica, or other very common complaints during pregnancy with my first two. I know many pregnant women do get these (rightfully so!) and they love their body pillows, u-shaped pillows, c-shaped pillows, knee pillows, pillow-top covers and belly bands to help support their body’s expanding size. I just didn’t feel the need to have these accessories in my pregnancies in my 30s.
In this pregnancy in 40s, things are different.
Around 20 weeks, I noticed soreness upon awakening in my hips and pelvic area. It dawned on me that I probably need more support to get through without pain. I started placing a pillow between my legs while I slept at night and voilà—pain went away. Grateful for an easy fix!
I also wear this belly band for a few hours several times a week for added support. The key is to not overwear the belly band, as it can lead to further muscle weakness.
5. More dialed into the testing.
Probably more because of my previous losses versus my age, I am more fixated on tests during this pregnancy. I also think it’s the messages we get in the media… “getting pregnant in 40s is rare… is dangerous… is geriatric… is impossible… is scary…” and on and on.
It’s funny because I am with a low-intervention midwife, but in the measurements that we do do like blood pressure, fundal height, weight gain, gestational diabetes testing (my idea), I am more nervous and curious of results. In the past, I never thought twice—I always assumed they would be normal.
6. Mentally psyching self out.
In this pregnancy in 40s, I am a little less confident of the physical demands of gestation and birth.
Case in point: the deliberation on where I should give birth.
Unlike Illinois, there are no birth centers close by to where I live in Florida. My choices are either home birth with midwife or hospital birth. While it seems like a no brainer for Mama Natural to give birth at home, I had some reservations (and so did Papa Natural).
Would it be safe? Am I a good candidate? Am I too old?
After some prayer and good, professional counsel, we decided to go for a home birth. (EEEKKKK!) In fact, my conservative Chicago midwife said that I was an excellent candidate since my pregnancy has gone so smoothly (age is not a factor for home birth safety) and because I almost gave birth to Paloma in the car. In fact, she said it would be safer for someone like me to give birth at home.
While in the past, I may have only needed my own reassurance, this time I needed others to tell me it was OK.
7. More open to accepting help.
Before this pregnancy, I always thought I was super woman. I want to do it all and control every detail and manage everything my way. This time around? I’m like “Mama need help.”
I am blessed by such a supportive community who have chipped in so much along the way…
- I think I’ve purchased 2-3 maternity clothing items. Everything else has been hand-me-downs.
- I have yet to buy one onesie for this child since I have bags full of gently used baby clothes from friends.
- A neighbor is picking up my crib from Ikea in a few weeks.
- My mom is going to stay with me for a week after baby is born.
- I am having a friend help me prep postnatal, nourishing meals.
Point is: I’m not doing this alone.
As Joanna Gaines said about her pregnancy in 40s, “Since Crew’s birth, I have a new understanding of the reality of the phrase ‘it takes a village.’”
8. You Don’t Take It for Granted.
Because of all the factors listed above, I am not sweating the small stuff. My house doesn’t have to be perfectly organized. I can let go of certain obligations. I don’t need #allthethings for this baby. I just take it day by day and do what I can.
Perhaps my nesting instinct isn’t as strong? Or perhaps I don’t have the same levels of adrenaline? But overall, I am much more laid back and chill during this pregnancy in 40s. It could also very well be that it’s my 3rd child (I even saw a big change in my attitude between my 1st and 2nd pregnancies!)
I also don’t take the miracle for granted. Each day, I am so filled with gratitude. Just the fact that there is a growing little life inside of me fills me with awe.
I also realize that at 43, this will be my last pregnancy. So there is such a feeling of completion, wholeness, gratitude, and grace around the whole experience. I am so thankful that I get to do this one more time!
Because of my previous experiences, I am more confident in my mothering abilities and in taking care of a child. I also get the precious opportunity to see a new life through my children’s eyes. Because they are older, they understand the process more as they pat my tummy or ask questions about breastfeeding, diaper changes, and burping baby. They can’t wait to help out!
Don’t Get Me Wrong…
Overall, I have had a fantastic, normal, low-risk pregnancy. I am able to function each day. I can get things done. My life is manageable. But I have had to make some adjustments along the way that I didn’t have to make with my pregnancies before. AND IT’S BEEN TOTALLY WORTH IT!
I am confident that there are some 40+ women out there who feel absolutely amazing being pregnant and are energized by the whole experience. Don’t think that just because you are in your 40s and pregnant, your experience will be like mine. We are all so unique!
I wanted to share my experience in case it helps a mama who may be struggling or feel like it’s extra hard. While it has been more intense to be pregnant in 40s, I would do it again in a heartbeat. The gift of this new life is beyond my wildest dreams!
How About You?
Have you been pregnant in your 40s? What was your experience? What did you learn? Share with us in the comments below!