By Angel LaLiberte, founder of FlowerPowerMom.com—The Truth About Motherhood After 40.
Motherhood after 40 is anything but a supersize helping of endocrinal bliss.
In fact, just when your cheeks are fat-full of the chicken-fried-steak-style diet of childrearing—and you’re all set to choke on the next bite—Mother Nature pops up and says “Would you like fries with that?”
And what’s that supposed to mean?
It means that, about the time your 4-year-old throws himself down on the floor of Macy’s in a full-throttle Bam-Bam meltdown—his vocal chords ripping out a Led Zepplin guitar solo—your perimenopausal adrenals begin exploding on top of your kidneys like fireworks on Independence Day.
Then you begin to feel like hell.
Why? Because during perimenopause, your adrenal glands start picking up some of the slack for producing progesterone, and supporting estrogen, as your ovaries begin winding down.
With encroaching hormonal shifts, your internal tolerance of other people (including children), noise, and other irritating external stimulants is hitting an all-time low.
Add the external stress of the unrelenting demands of toddlers and young children and your adrenals end up getting gang-banged from the inside and out.
Yet, countless mothers over 40 still demur and say: “But I’m not menopausal! I’m in my mid-40’s or early 50’s and I still have my period!”
And I say: “But you are, darling. You are!”
The cessation of menses is only the destination—for most, the journey of perimenopause and menopause is a process that takes about 5 to 10 years, where “the change” occurs in gradations.
I’d be lying if I said there weren’t days when I want to get down on the floor and join my kid in the Joy of Meltdown.
But, within every midlife motherhood moment of madness, lies the seed of a cure. That’s how I ended up writing Midlife Momotov Cocktail–a series of remedies for menopause and motherhood after 40.
I also went to the Over-40 Mom Squad—our expert moms who’ve walked the talk by having kids after 40—for some advice on handling hellacious hormones (or lack of them).
According to naturopath, Dr. Priscilla Natanson: “The irregular hours and constant work of having a baby or toddler can be stressful on your adrenal glands”.
Coupled with the changes wrought by perimenopause, motherhood over 40 can really strain the adrenals.
However, says Dr. Natanson, “poorly functioning adrenals can be supported with a variety of natural substances, which will not only ease your way through menopause, but will also help you cope with the stress of children more easily.”
She recommends having your adrenal function tested by your naturopathic doctor with a saliva test.
“Keeping your blood sugar balanced will help you deal with stress and will make your menopausal transition more comfortable,” she adds.
“High sugar foods will increase the symptoms of menopause and will also cause your blood sugar to crash after the high, dramatically increasing your stress and decreasing your tolerance for noise and kids.”
Dr. Natanson suggests eating small, frequent meals with healthy protein, good fats and complex carbs, supplemented with good quality fish oils.*
Most importantly, she says, “Taking time for yourself is critical—you can’t be expected to care for everyone else if you don’t have some self care too.”
Over-40 Mom Squad member Cindy Bailey, who writes on fertility and nutrition, points out that diet can help support resilience and mood.
“The biggest strain I experience as a mother over 40 and having a full, rich life that includes family and running a business, is very simply that I don’t have the same energy I used to,” she says.
“Because of this, it’s even more important, as we get older, to take really good care of ourselves in order to maximize our energy and optimize our health.
“By eliminating processed sugar, overly processed foods, and caffeine from our diets,” she continues, “we get rid of substances that negatively affect blood sugar and hormone levels, and in turn, our energy levels and the way we feel.”
Bailey recommends an all-organic diet that includes plenty of vegetables, good carbs, lean protein and health fats such as those found in nuts, seeds and olive oil, along with plenty of purified water.
“The resulting benefits of embracing a clean, healthy, well-balanced diet,” says Bailey, “along with getting plenty of sleep and managing stress, are feeling rested, alive, and having the patience to work through our children’s tantrums and job challenges.”
*Patients on blood thinners should consult their doctor before taking fish oils.
Angel gave birth to her children at 41 and 44 after conceiving naturally. Read Her Story.
FlowerPowerMom.com also hosts A CHILD AFTER 40, an online community to empower all women on the journey of motherhood after 40, from fertility to parenting. You can visit her Facebook Page, or follow her on Twitter: @flowerpowermoms or @AChildAfter40.