We all go into motherhood at different phases in our lives. Many doctors say that before age 35 is an optimal time for healthy pregnancy, however more and more women are having children later in life due to their careers, or because they simply aren’t ready. To better understand what it’s like to be 40 and pregnant, we are sharing a personal essay from author, wellness expert, and mama Aimee Raupp, who recently went through this very experience by following her own wellness practices.
I wrote my second book, Yes, You Can Get Pregnant: Natural Ways To Improve Your Fertility Now & Into Your 40’s, when I was 38 years old. However, as my 39th birthday approached, I was single, without children, and very ready to start a family. As loved ones and friends expressed their concern over my situation—single and almost 40—I remained steadfast in knowing that I would find my partner and have children. But I’d be lying if I said I didn’t have moments where I heard that nagging voice in my head saying, “Aimee, your time is running out.”
Truthfully, I never believed that voice in my head. Although it was there, I had very good reason to question it. I had been helping women conceive for over a decade, and many of them were in their late 30s to early 40s. So, at least academically, I knew I was still in a “safe zone” for pregnancy, especially since I was following the same plan that I had given to all of my clients. My plan was working for them and their fertility, and I believed it could work for me.
However, I couldn’t entirely shield myself from the worry and fear over age, fertility, and risk of miscarriage, premature birth, or other pregnancy complications. Nor could I protect myself from medical doctors with whom I have personal relationships constantly asking me when I was going to freeze my eggs, or when I would finally pull the trigger and get pregnant on my own.
Egg freezing never quite made sense to me, as I’ve rarely seen older women use their frozen eggs. I’d seen cancer clients make use of the eggs they froze before beginning chemotherapy and other treatments, and that made sense to me. But, in my clinic, none of the women who froze their eggs in their 30s as an insurance policy had ever used them to make a baby. And, when some of these women needed fertility treatments, the doctors they worked with still had them undergo an IVF (in vitro fertilization) cycle and chose the fresh eggs over the previously frozen ones. Also, the idea of having a baby on my own simply didn’t resonate with me, as I knew in my heart that one day I was going to have a family with a husband. I was open to the idea of using assisted reproductive techniques if I needed them, once I met my partner.
As time went on and I got older, I continued to follow the advice I gave to all my fertility clients, which can be summed up in these five tips:
I would regularly remind myself that it’s entirely possible for women to be 40 and pregnant, and for older women to give birth to healthy babies. I told myself that I could become pregnant, too. I took daily inventory of all the ways my health was thriving, and reassured myself that fertility is an extension of my overall health.
I nourished my body with nutrient-dense foods and supplements. I slept 7-8 hours each night. I got acupuncture regularly and took Chinese herbs.
I focused on all the joy that was happening in my everyday life. I meditated. I kept a journal. I talked to a life coach. Sure, I had moments of sadness and frustration. I had pangs of fear. Desperately, I thought, “Will my man ever show up? Will this ever happen for me? Should I just get pregnant on my own? Is it just not possible for me to be 40 and pregnant?”
Yes, all of those fears came up. All of those fears were very real for me. However, in my mental conversation, what always won out was my firm belief in my body and the destiny I knew was mine. When those fears came up, I found a way to quiet the mental chatter, tune into my heart, and reconnect with my truth. Then I could say to myself, “Aimee, this will happen for you. Be patient, remain calm, find your joy, and continue to nourish and support your healthy, fertile body.” (Side note: I found this part of my journey so moving that I recently created a course for women experiencing the fertility journey that solely focuses on shifting their mindset. It’s called Yes! and it’s a powerful four-week program.)
I found a way to quiet the mental chatter, tune into my heart, and reconnect with my truth.
I surrounded myself with a community of people who also believed in my body and its fertility, as well as the fact that I would find my true partner. Some people in this community were older women who, though once in my shoes, now had their first child or several children. Others were younger women going through the process with me. Overall, I enlisted support from those who believed being 40 and pregnant was a dream that could become a reality, and were cheering for me to make it happen.
I didn’t put my life on hold. I didn’t spend much time feeling sorry for myself. I just lived. I had fun. I followed my passions. I made my own joy and loved and supported myself.
Right before my 40th birthday, I met a man. He wanted a baby as soon as possible with me. After my 40th birthday, while we were discussing getting engaged, we got pregnant with our healthy, thriving son Jaymes (who turned two this September). I never had my FSH or AMH checked. My husband never had his sperm checked. We never saw a fertility doctor. In fact, my then-gynecologist (who often referred fertility clients to me) said to me right before we began trying, “Just go home and do what you tell all your clients to do: have fun sex and know that your body can do this. Aimee, you’ve been preparing your body for this for years.” She was right. I had been practicing what I preached—mentally, emotionally, nutritionally, and physically—for over five years by that point.
When we did get pregnant as easily as we did, I was relieved. Yet, I still encountered some resistance by the medical community for having an ‘advanced maternal age’ and ‘higher-risk’ pregnancy as a women’s health expert. It’s interesting to me how, as a society, we forget that women have been having children in their 40’s for millennia. It is my hope that we stop admonishing women who are 40 and pregnant, and accept that older women are able to achieve healthy pregnancy. Older mothers just have to honor our health on every level, and I believe we can do it.
Aimee Raupp, MS, LAC, is a renowned women’s health and wellness expert and the author of the books Chill Out & Get Healthy, Yes, You Can Get Pregnant: Natural Ways To Improve Your Fertility Now & Into Your 40’s (early 2018). A licensed acupuncturist and herbalist in private practice in Manhattan and Nyack, NY, Aimee’s work focuses on reawakening wellness, rather than curing illness. Her mission is to educate and inspire women to balance their health and hormones, celebrate their inner beauty, optimize vitality, and increase their fertility.
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