In recent weeks, we’ve learned that the royal family is looking forward to another baby arrival. The Duchess of Sussex is pregnant for the first time at the age of 37.
Here, businesswoman Lisa Forde – founder of Dotty About Paper – talks about becoming a mother at exactly that age.
“Like the Duchess of Sussex, I became pregnant when I was 37 years old. And, just like Meghan, I had to deal with some of the prejudices that come with having a child in your late 30s.
Being pregnant at this age is harder than when you’re in your late 20s or early 30s, partially because you have a higher risk of health complications that can occur during geriatric pregnancies (pregnancies over 35). But, another big challenge is the stigma you suffer from choosing to have a baby later in life.
Despite these obstacles, I’ve never regretted my decision. I had a very good network behind me, who were all supportive of my choice in being ‘an older mum’. Not all women are so lucky – and frankly, new mums shouldn’t have to add societal stigma to an already busy time.
On occasion, my age affected the way I felt during my pregnancy.
Especially when attending antenatal classes, surrounded by younger women, because it made me feel like I stood out. I even worried that others would think I wouldn’t be a good mother because of my age, with people and the media having a habit of showcasing older mums as cautionary tales, and women are labelled with an ‘expiration date’ on when we should and shouldn’t have children.
However, with the support of my friends and family, I soon realised that I didn’t need to worry. Being a great mother has nothing to do with your age; what counts is the way you
care for your children.
Having friends my age with babies and young children of their own also helped me to feel less lonely during my pregnancy. They were there for me when I needed encouragement and advice.
As for the health issue – yes, it is true that there is an increased risk of health problems during geriatric pregnancies, but I would recommend fact-checking to avoid misinformation – it certainly saved me a lot of unnecessary stress.
During my pregnancy, I was surprised to learn that although older mothers have a greater chance of complications, the rates still aren’t as high as many people think. I had heard that having children at my age could be dangerous for me and my child, but professionals assured me that this simply wasn’t the case. Taking every precaution to ensure you and your baby are healthy is important for every mother, regardless of age.
Fortunately, I didn’t suffer from any age-related issues and my son was born – and still is – perfectly healthy.
However, while I sometimes felt self-doubt during my pregnancy, I still knew it was the right decision for me. In my early 30s, I had set up my first business, Dotty about Paper, and wanted to focus on building my career as a business leader.
At the age of 37, with my business firmly established, I was more prepared to have children. I could offer them security and devote my time to caring for them.
Women shouldn’t be put off having children just because of their age and they certainly shouldn’t be punished by a negative and outdated view of older mums.
Of course, what’s right for some people isn’t right for others. But, for me, this choice was one of the best I have ever made.”