A reader asked: I am 38 years old and we are trying for number 5. I am a little nervous about being 39 at delivery. If you don’t mind my asking, I was wondering how old you are? How have your pregnancies/deliveries changed with age? After delivery, about how long to you take off before starting back with school?
Now, I want to start this post by saying, I don’t feel like an “older mom” at all! I will be 36 shortly after this baby arrives and I’m really not sure that qualifies me as older, but since I have quite a few lovely streaks of white dappling my hair (and I’m starting to notice them in my husband as well), I guess perhaps it is time for me to face the facts that I am getting “older” and some day I might be an older mom. The day someone suggests I am my own child’s grandmother is the day I know I’ve arrived! For now, I’m still getting the, “You look too young to have 8 children.” To which I reply…THANK YOU!!!!
So, for this post, I’ll give you my own personal experience along with a mix of experiences from friends of mine to give you an idea of what being an older mom is like. (For a point of reference, it also might be helpful to know I had my first child at 21. I had 4 children in my 20’s and this will be my 4th child in my 30’s.)
Is pregnancy harder?
My answer: Not particularly. I do think I’m slower and weaker physically, but for me difficult pregnancies have had very little to do with my age and very much to do with the time of year I’m giving birth. Summer babies are very hard for me. I have heard a lot of people say pregnancy in their 40’s was more difficult than in their 30’s, so I might just not be “old enough” yet.
Answers from some of my “older” friends who did feel it was harder:
Morning sickness was harder and longer.
Had to watch carbs/sugars more.
Fatigued easier during pregnancy.
Dealt with Gestational Diabetes for the first time.
Dealt with high blood pressure for the first time.
Pre-pregnancy weight being higher was a factor.
Body ached more.
More pelvic and rib pain.
3rd Trimester was harder.
Took longer to recover.
However, nearly ALL said the trade-off was that they were more laid back, knew their bodies better, and were less stressed with a newborn. I can definitely vouch for that!
Several of my friends also said while the pregnancies were harder, the deliveries were not. I agree with this statement as well. My deliveries have definitely gotten easier.
I also want to quickly address the “risks” so many older moms hear about. According to my OB, many of the “risks” are skewed by studies that do not take into account other factors…like abortion. The latest statistic I heard on abortions due to a baby being diagnosed with Down Syndrome was 92%! These are NOT all women in their 30’s and 40’s by any means. Thus, the data ends up skewed.
The one risk my OB said does go up with age is the chance of developing Gestational Diabetes. However, she said everyone’s risk toward diabetes goes up with age, pregnant or not, because our bodies have a harder time metabolizing sugars.
So, when am I ready to jump back in to my “regular life”, including school? Usually within 2 weeks. But, that is me and not necessarily the “norm”. My body quickly realizes it is no longer pregnant and everything normalizes. If I don’t get back to my regular routine, I feel a little cagey. However, many women need way more time than that. You have to listen to YOUR body and decide what YOUR body is telling you. There is no “right” answer.
I want to leave you with something our pastor said this past week at church. He is a 46 year old dad of 7 who was recently told he was too old to keep having children. While he acknowledges his body is weaker and achier and he can’t do some of the things he did with his older children, he said,
“If God had intended our youngest child to be raised the same way our oldest child was raised, he would have given him to me first, rather than 7th. God knew Z____ needed to be parented in the way I parent now and T____ needed to be parented in the way I parented then.”
I love this! God is sovereign over all. Even the order, gender, and number of children He gives us is by design! So, if the Lord blesses you with a child when you are older, there is no need to fear. He knows what He is doing!
Have a blessed weekend and take the time to hug all your “babies” and let them know just how loved they are!