Janet Jackson recently gave birth to her first child and has been criticised by people – including Piers Morgan – because at 50 years old, she is an older mum.
However, despite what Morgan and others may think, giving birth at an older age is no longer such a big deal, according to Mervi Jokinen, Royal College of Midwives’ practice and standards professional advisor.
“In general, women are much more healthier in late age than they used to be,” she told The Huffington Post UK. “Whereas before having a baby at this age would be seen as later on in life, now women plan their life very differently.”
We spoke to midwives and mums to find out the five things people need to know about pregnancy after 40.
1. You May Have Trouble Conceiving
“If you suddenly decide to embark on this journey in your 40s or 50s, you might not fall pregnant just like that,” said Jokinen.
“You need to be realistic about your chances of getting pregnant because it is harder when you get older. This can become a big mental issue.”
Anna Nella, a midwife at Tommy’s charity said an older mum should ideally have some pre-conceptual care.
“Check rubella status, commence folic acid three months prior to pregnancy and ensure blood pressure or existing medical problems are well controlled and you are at a healthy weight,” she said.
2. Women Aren’t All Lumped Into The Same Category As Being ‘Older’
Just because you’re giving birth in your 40s or 50s, it doesn’t mean you’re going to be treated differently to younger mums-to-be throughout your whole pregnancy. What really matters is your individual health.
“Every midwife needs to approach women on an individual basis, no matter their age,” said Jokinen.
“Women often tell me messages about high risk of blood pressure and diabetes are really frightening. But some women are fitter in their 40s than other women in their 20s.
“So we take it on personal level, discuss their health and make a realistic pregnancy plan for them.”
3. But Those With Concerns Will Be Closely Monitored
Nella said women who have children at an older age are at a higher risk of experiencing complications – though not everyone does.
Women who do experience high blood pressure or gestational diabetes will be closely monitored throughout the pregnancy so that any complications can be picked up and treated early.
4. You May Experience A ‘Lack Of Control’
Jokinen explained that women who are older and have already been through their career, made important life decisions and had relationships might be more used to being able to take control of situations.
“They may be used to being in control, but when you have a baby that goes out the window,” she said. “It’s a mental adjustment of understanding life.
“You may have it clear in your mind what your pregnancy and birth will be like, but those things can always throw up surprises, so you have to be very open-minded.”
5. But You Will Probably Have More Confidence
Claire Scothern, who had her first child in her 40s, said one major bonus for women giving birth in their 40s and 50s is there increased level of life experience.
In a blog for The Huffington Post UK, she wrote: “When I look back on this wobbly route to motherhood I am heartened to learn that far from damaging my child by being older I am potentially giving him a better life by virtue of me being wealthier, more stable and experienced.
“I am confident in my skin and don’t shy away from getting my son involved in activities and life; I am happy to explore with him without feeling as though I am missing out on going clubbing or something.”
Dr Webberley said: “Having the experience of age behind you can mean there are less anxieties common to younger parents when they have a baby.”