Having a Baby In Your 40’s
A lovely couple with a gorgeous new baby named Harvey, recently popped into my studio for a newborn session. During our session Harvey’s mum Kirsty, mentioned she’d just turned 40. Now, Kirsty looked amazing, not just for a mum with a brand-new baby, but as a woman who just turned forty. So, we had a chat and I learned Kirsty and Sam have older kids in their teens. As both my kids are young adults, I was curious to find out if Kirsty noticed a significant change in her experience of having a baby now, compared to 10+ years ago. And she kindly shared this with me…
Is pregnancy in your 40’s different to your earlier pregnancies?
“To be honest, having a baby was much easier this time around. My first pregnancy I suffered from very bad morning sickness and back problems. This time around, I did have morning sickness but only for the first trimester. If anything, it was only the last few weeks which were really bad. I was in quite a bit of pain walking. I finished up work at around 35 weeks because the commute to the city each day became too much. Overall, I enjoyed being pregnant much more this time. And I appreciated the little things like feeling all the movements and hiccups much more.”
Is having a baby less stressful in your 40’s?
“Definitely. We are both much more relaxed this time around and not worried so much about the little things. Being in our 40’s (well me anyway, Sam’s only 38 ?) we are both established with our careers and set up financially. So there’s a lot less pressure financially. It means we can take the time to enjoy having a baby and not worry so much about other things. We don’t put any pressure on ourselves for strict routines and are very easy going with taking Harvey out and about with us. Funnily enough, despite not having a fixed routine, he sleeps really well! And we always get at least one block of 5-8 hours straight sleep each night.”
Has parenting changed over the last 10 years?
“We haven’t noticed too much has changed. However, one change was the hospital was very relaxed about feeding. And there were no questions asked when we decided to give Harvey top up feeds of formula. With my first baby 16 years ago, the hospital was very pushy about breast feeding only. With Harvey, we decided early to be relaxed about feeding. Although we wanted to mainly breastfeed, we were happy to do mixed feeding if that suited him better. He is 6 weeks old now and mixed feeding is going really well. It means that Sam can help with feedings and Harvey always has plenty available to him.”
Social Media Pressure!
“Another thing that is different this time is social media! All the pressure to have cute photos and capture all the milestones. First time around we just had a baby book to put it all in to. However, now there’s Facebook and Instagram and a hashtag for everything!”
Did your hospital care differ from your earlier pregnancy?
“The biggest difference was the amount of time I spent in hospital. My first baby was delivered by emergency caesarean and I spent five nights in hospital. That was the minimum stay for anyone having a caesarean. However, this time around I had an elective caesarean and stayed in hospital three nights. I was meant to be discharged after two nights, but Harvey’s blood sugar was a bit low. So, I stayed an extra night. At first I was nervous about going home so early, but by day two in hospital I was ready to go home.
We also noticed the nurses didn’t offer to take Harvey to give me rest. With my first baby, the nurses took her several times to let me sleep and recover. This time we were left to ourselves, except when the nurse came to do observations, or we called her. Perhaps it was because it wasn’t my first time having a baby.”
Have you learned any new tricks having a baby in your 40’s?
“I think the biggest thing I’ve learnt since having my first baby is this:
- there is how you want to parent
- there is how people tell you to parent
- and then there is what works.
As we felt much more relaxed this time, we didn’t put pressure on ourselves for things to be a certain way. Or feel the need to do what our friends and family said worked for them. Basically, we are just doing what works for us and for Harvey.
One thing that works for us is our daytime sleeps and feeds. Although we don’t stick to a routine, we do not let him sleep more than 2-3 hours straight during the day. Waking him if he’s sleeping too long has helped us with Harvey’s night-time sleeping. He sleeps 5-8 hours for his first night-time sleep, then wakes for a quick feed. After that feed Harvey’s back to sleep for another 3-5 hours. He’s done this every night since we’ve come home. So we’ve been really lucky.
We’re also doing a few things which help with his sleeping. For example, we don’t let him fall asleep while feeding. And we put him down when he’s sleepy, but still awake, so he self-settles each time. If he has trouble self-settling, then we use a white noise app which seems to work too.”
*Incidentally, I use a white noise app in the studio for settling babies. It works a treat! And sometimes it works on older kids and parents too! You can check out White Noise apps in the Itunes store.
What about a Dad’s perspective on having a baby later in life? Is it different for Sam?
Sam feels the biggest difference and is more relaxed this time around. He’s in a much better position with his career and has more flexibility to spend at home with us. Which is great! And now that Sam is back at work, we make sure we have ‘dad time’ every day. Every night Sam spends time with Harvey on his play mat, bathing him, reading a book and getting dressed ready for bed.”
Well, Kirsty and Sam, it sounds like you’ve got parenting down pat! Thanks for sharing your experience of having a baby at 40. And by the way, Harvey is simply divine xo – Alison
Having a baby? Alison Cooke Photography is a Brisbane newborn, wedding and portrait photographer and an award-winning member of the AIPP with over 20 years’ experience in the wedding, family and newborn portrait industry. Alison is also a communications specialist, writer and freelance public relations specialist. You can view more communications work here.