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Things I Wish I Had Known Before Becoming A Mother Later In Life

Updated on August 23, 2016
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A mother and a dedicated nurse who values children and family. A passionate writer aiming to help others by sharing my own experiences.

Interpreting Midlife Motherhood

Life is stranger than fiction there is no doubt about it. To be a first-time mother over the age of forty is quite scary. For some older women adjusting to first-time motherhood is something they do with all the grace and finesse. For most others, it is like dancing with two left feet. You trip yourself up and bang into anything that gets in your way. Contrary to what many people think women who make a seamless and easy transition into motherhood are actually in the minority. Most women if they are honest experience some level of anxiety and distress when they first become a mother. It sounds like a shopping list for disaster really. While research shows that the degree of difficulty in adjusting varies greatly from slight and short-term to debilitating and drawn out denying that any period of adjustment exists has been proven to be as silly as suggesting the earth is flat or that high heels are comfy.

You may love to be near your baby but at the same time crave to escape and spend time on your own.
You may love to be near your baby but at the same time crave to escape and spend time on your own.

Questioning Becoming A First Time Mother Over The Age Of Forty

Becoming a first-time mother represents a new stage in a woman’s life that is defined by a vast range of emotional social psychological and physical changes. Now it would seem logical to presume that older women with more life experience knowledge and resources would find it easier to adjust to the life that being a mother creates. However a large body of research points toward the opposite being true. As the trend toward delayed motherhood continues, there are new studies investigating the ease with which these women move through this life change. The studies have found there are a number of factors that can adversely affect successful adjustment one of the most significant is older maternal age. As the widely accepted stereotype of older mothers is one of a healthy well educated and more financially secure woman it can at first be hard to fathom why the older you are the most difficult adjustment can be.

The answer is simple and highly complex. To fully understand we must first consider what the transition to motherhood really means for a woman regardless of age. Research into the topic consistently reveals that first-time mothers experience a sense of loss of identity and individuality the needs of their baby as something that is overwhelming and significantly underestimated. The effect of fatigue due to sleep deprivation and the shift in focus from self to the baby are aspects few women say they are not prepared for. There is abundant research supporting the existence of how wonderfully special it is to become a mother and how overwhelmingly hard life changing and demanding it is. It is the perceived normality of motherhood that can often cause problems.

Many studies confirm that older women are more worried about their baby compared with younger women.
Many studies confirm that older women are more worried about their baby compared with younger women.

Understanding Periods Of Difficulty In Motherhood

Hence even though it is known to be typical even normal for new mothers to experience periods of depression difficulty and dissatisfaction few women actually admit it. For the older woman, the reduced help and support due to the age of their parents can be compounded by the fact that their parental age can make it more difficult for them to travel to visit and their activities may also be restricted by age-related health issues. Even if they do live nearby they may not have the physical stamina to care for a grandchild.

Explaining The Role Of A Supportive Partner

How helpful the new mother’s partner also affects how a woman adjusts. It is well documented that mothers of young children who lack a supportive partner are at greater risk of clinical depression than any other adult group. If that partner is a first time older father he himself may be suffering from his own adjustment issues. Research into the experiences of first time older fathers is thin on the ground but there is anecdotal evidence to support the assumption that a man having his own trouble adjusting is less able to provide the support to his partner. Having social support is another important aspect in helping a mother adjust and this form of support can also be reduced in the case of the older mother. Part of the reason for this can be the older mother’s tendency to favor paid childcare instead of using family friends and other mothers. Another unexpected issue faced by an overwhelming majority of older mothers is the range of contradictory emotions that arise when adjusting to life with a child. While this is not unique to older mothers it is an issue of note as women who delay having a baby often overestimate their preparedness for motherhood. Many women presume that their older age makes them more ready for children it can come as a huge surprise to find that there are negative aspects to it.

Women have been doing it since the dawn of time and it is the most natural thing in the world is concepts that have for generations been keeping women on how difficult the job actually is

For some older women adjusting to first time motherhood is something they do with all the grace and finesse. For most others it is like dancing with two left feet.
For some older women adjusting to first time motherhood is something they do with all the grace and finesse. For most others it is like dancing with two left feet.

Motherhood After Forty

The fact is that motherhood is filled with good bits and bad bits there is an upside and a downside with moments of despair and ones of delight. It is a double edged sword as while there are times when you feel your cup is overflowing you can also feel like you are dying of thirst. You may love the act of breastfeeding but despite having to get up in the middle of the night to do it. You may love to be near your baby but at the same time crave to escape and spend time on your own. Everyone enthused about how wonderful motherhood was and feeling guilty for not enjoying it as much as people expected you to be normal. Pregnancy is a treadmill and there is never an end to what needs to be done. At times you will feel empty instead or full of love. Feelings of ambivalence and boredom are emotions a few mothers admit to having they can often give rise to a sense of guilt and confusion.

Realize You Are Not Alone

One of the hardest things about new motherhood is feeling you are the only one having difficulty. You may look enviously at other mothers and think they are coping well but the truth they are probably looking at you and thinking the very same thing. Remember motherhood is the hardest job you will ever and adjusting to a new way of taking time. It is normal to have a sense of longing for your previous life so do not feel guilty but it just shows that the bigger the life you had the bigger that sense of loss may be.

Advantages Of Being A First Time Mom At The Age of Forty

By considering yourself and your baby to be automatically at risk due to your age can create concern in itself can carry risks. Some older pregnant women attempt to ease this anxiety by being as informed as possible. Many of these women are career orientated and educated their propensity to seek out more medical type information even the most literate lay person this can be a daunting task. Rather than easing concern, the pursuit can work against you as the task of wading through the huge amount of information available especially on the internet can be totally overwhelming. Many studies confirm that older women are more worried about their baby compared with younger women. This has been shown to lead to an increased number of prenatal tests visits to medical professionals and intervention during birth. In some cases, the fear of what may go wrong can lead to a sense of emotionally holding back and not wanting to get hopes up for a positive birth outcome. The fear of risk has a flow on effect and studies confirm that older women are often considered by medical and allied health staff as having a high-risk pregnancy. As more research becomes available it is now the health circumstances of each individual woman that are being seen as a better indicator of risk. So before you race off to search every older woman pregnancy complication talk to your doctor about what may or may not relevant to you.

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