Becoming a Mother in Your 40s: Triumphs and challenges by actor Sarimah Ibrahim

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More women globally are embracing motherhood later in life, defying traditional timelines and societal expectations and it is one of the toughest and most rewarding responsibilities in the world.

My mother had me when she was 21 years old. I had my daughter, Sofia at 41 – that’s a two-decade difference. As an actor, broadcaster, and TV presenter my life and my being can be so public at times and when it comes to pregnancy in all its glory, remaining private can be challenging to navigate.

Here’s what I’ve learned in the process, I’m sharing this in the hope that it inspires and provides comfort for those who need it.

As we are made too aware of, conception and pregnancy in your 40s poses a different set of challenges compared to younger mothers, I understand this so well as I chose to become a mother much later than most of my  friends and peers.

The most well-known aspect of this shift is the decrease in fertility. Eggs gradually decline in number and quality as women age, with a significant drop occurring around the age of 32. By age 44, the chances of spontaneous pregnancy become close to zero. So, at 40 I certainly felt the pressure of the clock ticking.

While assisted reproductive technologies such as in-vitro fertilisation can provide hope, their success rates also diminish with age, making the path to motherhood more challenging for women in their 40s. I didn’t go down that route because I believed I still had a window for that ‘spontaneous’ conception to happen, although my husband will tell you how ‘un spontaneous’ it was with countless ovulation sticks and instructions of “Ok there’s a window lets go do it NOW!”

Pregnancy complications are another concern for older mothers. Women over 40 are more susceptible to pre-eclampsia, gestational diabetes, and other pregnancy-related issues. The risk of miscarriage significantly increases in this age group, primarily due to chromosomal problems in the embryo. Older mothers also face an elevated risk of stillbirth, potentially linked to conditions like high blood pressure and gestational diabetes. To mitigate this risk, many doctors may recommend planned inductions to avoid longer gestational times.

I chose to adhere to my doctor’s suggestions regarding this by having a planned C-section at 41, as the possibility of diabetes and birth complications convinced me it would be safest.

Children born to older mothers also face an increased risk of chromosomal issues, which can lead to certain birth defects, such as Down Syndrome. While non-invasive blood tests for chromosomal issues provide early information about the child’s genetic makeup, these considerations highlight the complex landscape of motherhood in your 40s.

Nonetheless, becoming a mother is such a complex life changing event that no matter what age you become one, all that matters is you follow your own unique instincts, each pregnancy and delivery truly is customised to each mother. All that mattered to me was that my child was healthy and that I could be present with her as a mother, both mentally and physically.

Postnatal depression rates for mothers who are older is also a risk factor and one I battled through for the first 6 months. My mother too, at 21 and 28 had suffered the same but fortunately for me I managed to use the resources in my life such as therapy and medication for six months to get me out of that dark cloud of doom.

Many mothers feel guilty for not feeling elated after birth. However, the changes to a mother’s brain, hormones, body, emotions cannot be understated. How can you be yourself when the person you were is completely transformed?

We can’t control what naturally changes us but we can control how we judge ourselves and punish ourselves endlessly for not being ‘good’ enough a mother.

There is no such thing as a perfect mother. There is only being a mother, ever changing and ever growing it all its glory. It is a rebirth of the self as much as it is a birth of another.

https://www.instagram.com/sarimahibrahim/

The post Becoming a Mother in Your 40s: Triumphs and challenges by actor Sarimah Ibrahim appeared first on Wellbeing Magazine.

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