As many of us that have struggled to get pregnant know, life doesn’t always go the way you expect it to. I had my first child at 35, and then tried for years to have my second. After a miscarriage at 39, I finally got pregnant again at 40.
When I was a kid I would roll my eyes at people having children this late. My mum had me at 35 and my brother at 40, and I remember thinking to myself “Why would anyone wait this long?” Not knowing of course, that due to PCOS, that this is how it would work out.
So many of us have had plans for babies in our early 30s, which can turn very easily to mid 30s, late 30s, and in my case, I’ll be nearly 41 when my son is born. Many of us end up being older mothers, and not entirely out of choice.
Right now, I’m 26 weeks, and ecstatic! There have been some ups and downs during this pregnancy, but so far, so good. Second time around is easier in a lot of ways, but terrifying after experiencing a loss. But even for a second time mum, there are some surprising things I’ve learned about being pregnant in my 40s. Obviously this won’t all be the case for all pregnant people in their 40s, but for me these are things that stood out.
1. It’s not as unusual as you think
I have made multiple jokes in the last few months about being a “geriatric mother”. Almost everyone I’ve told, I’ve felt I’ve had to follow it up with “Yes, I know I’m so old”. That’s when I got the most surprising replies. A few people at work mentioned they’d had their kids at 39 and 40, and a few of the mums at school laughed when I realized that they were the same age as me, and that their younger kids were only toddlers. A couple of my other friends said 40 was nothing. Everyone knows someone that had a baby at 41, 42 or more. Even my OBIGYN laughed when I commented on how old I was. Having a baby in your 40s is not unusual any more, and while I assumed I’ll be the exception, it turns out I’m not.
2. You won’t go the full 40 weeks
I wasn’t aware of this, but at 40, most OBIGYNS/Midwives won’t let you go 40 weeks. This is because of the increased rate of stillbirth for older women. I’m having a scheduled c-section at 39 weeks, and if I was going the VBAC route, I’d be induced earlier too.
3. You’ll get a lot more care and monitoring
I was shocked the other day that my OBIGYN has never used a doppler on me. Then I realized, it’s because when I see her for my monthly visit, I always have an ultrasound. I’ve already had 6 (I’m 26 weeks) which is more than I had for the whole of my last pregnancy! I’m also taking more medication (baby aspirin to prevent pre-eclampsia), and giving birth at a special maternal/fetal unit at a larger hospital in a bigger city. At first this freaked me out a fair bit, but now it’s kind of reassuring. As a friend who had her baby in her late thirties said to me “You get to see your baby more often”, and that is a lovely plus side to all the monitoring.
4. It is more tiring
First time round, I managed to do so much, and I was a spritely 34 in my first trimester. Now I’m 40, and I finish my work day, sit on the couch watching cartoons on the TV with my five year old, and promptly fall asleep for about an hour. Then I’m too exhausted to do anything. This did not happen last time! I’m finding that I feel just that little bit more exhausted, and when I think back to my last pregnancy, I’m amazed that I got so much done!