Most of the media I encounter on pregnancy after 40 focus on how to conceive and how to have a successful pregnancy at age 40 and beyond. But there’s a lot more to having a baby than just conceiving and delivering. There’s also the 18 years that follow!
Having had my first child at 46, I now have a realistic perspective on what parenting at an advanced age is like. From conception and beyond, here are some of the pros and cons.
1. You’re Aware of The Risks
How it helps: With a pregnancy after 40, you will most definitely know the risks and your pregnancy will be closely monitored. You’ll know every step of the way how your baby is doing and whether he or she is developing normally.
How it hinders: Sometimes you may feel like you’re getting too much information; it’s harder to relax and not worry about things.Constant reminders about one’s “advanced maternal age” aren’t always welcome. And waiting for test results can be stressful, even if they’re necessary.
2. You’ve Learned To Count Your Blessings
How it helps: You don’t take parenthood for granted, especially if you had challenges conceiving and carrying a healthy baby. You’re keenly aware of how lucky you are to have a baby in your 40′s, naturally or otherwise.
How it hinders: Not wanting to be unappreciative of how blessed you’ve been, you may hold yourself to impossibly high standards as a parent.
3. You’re More “Ready”
How it helps: In your twenties and thirties, you might still be pursuing career ambitions. This may not be as much at the forefront in your forties and beyond. Plus, as an older parent you’re less likely to want to ditch the kids so you can go out and party.
How it hinders: You may have spent so many years dreaming of what parenthood would be like that you’re actually unprepared for some of the changes it brings. You’ll have a lot less time for quiet meditation! For certain, your life will no longer revolve around you.
4. You’re More Patient
How it helps: As life gets shorter, we tend to have a better sense of what’s important. So your little one will benefit by having a parent who is more patient and focused.
How it hinders: You might have some trouble drawing a line between patience and indulgence. There’s always a risk of catering too much to your little late-in-life blessing.
5. You’re More Self Assured
How it helps: You’ve been around long enough that you’re less impressed with what others think. If they tell you pregnancy after 40 is a bad idea, that’s just their opinion! You are your own person.
How it hinders: You may be a little intimidating to some younger parents. You might also fail to primp and preen every single time you leave the house. Who are you trying to impress, after all? This can lead to looking downright scary sometimes.
6. You’ve Gained Wisdom
How it helps: You have a better perspective on life. As your child grows, you can share insights with him or her that come with having more life experience.
How it hinders: Eventually every parent knows nothing and every kid knows everything. No amount of wisdom can overcome this. No matter what your age, to your teenager, you’re just old!
7. You’ll Acquire A Youthful Outlook
How it helps: You’re going to hear a lot about how a child “keeps you young”. To me this means experiencing life once more through the eyes of a child. It also means staying busy and active.
How it hinders: You’re also more tired. That youthful outlook and energy has to be fueled with exercise, good nutrition, and a little bit of “me time”. Otherwise, as you go through decades number four, five, and six, “staying young” will get harder and harder!
8. You’ll Broaden Your Horizons
How it helps: Adding a child to your life brings all kinds of new relationships and experiences. It’s both rewarding and enriching. I’ve felt renewed by starting a whole new chapter in midlife.
How it hinders: At times this may seem overwhelming. You’re just ramping up as your peers are sending their kids off to college and slowing down. It might be hard to find other parents your age.
Naturally, not all of these points apply to every older parent. But it does give a more balanced perspective for those experiencing or contemplating a pregnancy after 40.