At forty two years old, and with the majority of my friends already parents to tweens, I'm super excited to embark on the rollercoaster of motherhood .. albeit somewhat later than most! It wasn't that I didn't want kids when I was younger, I always presumed it would happen at some stage .. and then, it just didn't.
In my late thirties and still single I began worrying that I'd missed the boat. People around me seemed happily settled with growing families. Maybe it was just not my destiny. I threw myself into work, travel and adventure, but always hoped I'd have the opportunity to be a mum one day.
Well meaning friends would screenshot and send me stories of Cameron Diaz, Janet Jackson and Natalie Imbruglia .. all these forty-something celebs successfully having babies. But the reality is, we can't fight certain parts of the ageing process, research shows that whilst first-time mums are getting older, fertility does decline steeply from our late thirties. However, if you're looking for hope and inspiration that falling pregnant over forty is possible, you can add me to your list of natural conception examples!!
Fertility at Forty
Having watched many older friends struggle with infertility, miscarriage and stillbirth, I most definitely did not take a successful pregnancy for granted. I feel incredibly blessed that it happened for me and despite worries and scares through the first trimester, all is looking good as I enter the final few weeks.
Genetics play a significant role in fertility. Around 15% of couples will experience fertility issues due to problems that run in their family. That said, whilst we can be genetically predisposed to all sorts of health concerns, there's still plenty we can do to naturally support healthy conception.
Some of the things I believe helped me include:
- Regular exercise and good base fitness
- No alcohol for seven years, no smoking for almost twenty
- A plant-based diet, rich in antioxidant vitamins and nutrients
- Avoiding caffeine (besides black tea in kombucha I don't drink any)
- Plenty of sun exposure for Vitamin D
- Taking regular fertility supplements
- Learning to understand my periods and cycles using apps
- Getting a good night's sleep
- Regular therapy to manage stress levels
Fertility and pregnancy is such a personal journey. I'm looking forward to blogging and sharing along the way, but if you have any questions you'd like to ask me in private about my experience, please don't hesitate to send me an email.
How Has Pregnancy Been?
I honestly thought I would be the sort of person to breeze through pregnancy! With a strong understanding of nutrition, great level of fitness and plenty of investment in self-care, how could I fail? The little bean growing inside me had other ideas - I've been sick as a dog!!
The first trimester was horrific. I've never experienced nausea like it. I'm just not a sickly person, so it was a very unpleasant few weeks. Instead of cravings, my appetite for most foods completely disappeared. The only things I could stomach were sweet fruits like berries, mango and pineapple and platefuls of pancakes!! I tried juiced ginger and seasickness wristbands which helped to some extent, but spent much of my time wanting to throw up! Not quite the glowing start to motherhood I'd envisaged.
As good as I am at managing my stress levels, it was also a very emotionally anxious time and as a result I experienced two worrying episodes of bleeding early on. Both times I convinced myself something was going to go wrong. It's rare that you get to forty without close friends having gone through pregnancy loss, and I'd shared so many heartbreaking moments. Miscarriage just isn't talked about enough and with the risk factor over the age of forty increasing to 50%, it's understandably a worrying time. Having come so far, it was basically 50/50 that this little one would even make it to 12 weeks.
Fortunately, once the first trimester passed, the sickness significantly subsided and from week thirteen things felt much more manageable! Full of energy, keen to catch up on missed exercise and genuinely excited to drink green juices again, this was definitely my most favourite part of pregnancy.
I took full advantage of the extra motivation and enthusiastically began catching up on everything I'd wanted to do whilst lying in bed feeling like death! I designed and began work on the nursery, worked ridiculously long hours on new product development for my skincare range, and hiked for hours in the hills as the weather improved.
Whilst it sounds like blissful radiance, this is when my skin problems triggered. I could pretty much predict that I was never going to have a pregnancy entirely free from skin complaints. My skin has always mirrored inner turmoil and whilst I'm usually fully in control of my diet and exercise pattern, hormones are another thing altogether. Week sixteen saw those tell tale little dots begin to appear across my arms, boobs and belly. Fortunately I got things back in check very quickly and look forward to sharing that experience with you in a separate blog very soon.
The hot British summer finally kicked in in mid July, which coincided with my third trimester. For the first time I began to struggle a bit on those uphill hikes, and with temperatures in the high twenties most afternoons it was difficult to do much other than relax in the shade. Now the weather has cooled a little I'm trying to get outdoors as much as possible. I'm keen to stay healthy and active for as long as I can. If it's up to me I'll be out there hiking on my due date!
Sleep is an interesting experience. I've never really had any trouble getting a good seven hours, but these days it's broken by frequent trips to the loo, tingling hands (carpal tunnel) and baby deciding 4am is the perfect time for a party! All good practice for the sleepless nights ahead I'm told :)
The exciting part about a geriatric pregnancy is all the extra scans they recommended. On top of the 12 and 20 week ultrasounds, doctors suggest you're checked every three weeks. I've loved seeing grainy black and white pictures of my wriggly little bean each month and the nurses at my local cottage hospital in Buxton have been so kind and caring.
Boy or Girl?
A surprise! I genuinely don't know.
Did you know that these days 58% of parents-to-be ask to find out whether they're having a boy or a girl. I've always liked the idea of not knowing. I know finding out can make practical planning a little easier, but I'm happy decorating the nursery in neutrals and not too fussed about whether my baby wears pink or blue.
Two friends who are also pregnant and due around the same time as me have found out they're having boys - so a third boy could add to the pack! That said, perhaps they need a strong girl to keep them nicely in check! Friends have mostly predicted I'm expecting a girl - based on absolutely nothing other than intuition and random guess work. Personally I don't have a clue, and really don't mind either way. A boy to climb mountains and explore with would be fun, but a girl would definitely prove a force to be reckoned with, clambering about in a tutu and wellie boots determined to rule the world!!
What it Means for my Skin Care
The beauty of owning my own skincare brand, is that I get to decide how my range develops. From the beginning it's been the most magical journey for my own skin, working with the countries very best scientists to formulate all the natural skin care products I wish had been available to me when my battle with psoriasis first began.
Pregnancy and parenting will be a continuation of that journey. I've already experienced second trimester hormones wreaking havoc with my skin. Having natural, topical solutions and gut nourishing probiotics on hand has been a lifesaver!
The flipside is that running a small business can be tough going, and doesn't afford a great deal of time off. I have so much day to day involvement in every part of what we do, taking a break is not an option. Fortunately I also love my job, so it never really feels like going to work!
Having watched many inspirational mum friends manage their careers, companies and little ones, I'm excited and up for the challenge. Besides those few essential days around giving birth, provided everything runs smoothly, I'll be straight back to it with little one in tow.
I know from the many thousands of conversations I've had over the years just how important pregnancy and childrens skin care is. Lots of mums reach out to me about their baby's sensitive skin and what they can use through breastfeeding. Whilst I have always done my best to advise and support, there's nothing like personal experience. We're already in the developmental stages of a natural skin care range for bumps and babies - because I'd honestly struggle with what else to trust on my own child's skin! Watch this space ...
What it Means for my Travels
Does anybody actually remember life before Covid?! It sadly feels so long ago. Before the world locked down I used to spend a great deal of time travelling Europe in my camper and I've been longing to embark on van adventures for the past eighteen months.
With France still reluctant to have non-essential visitors and the UK's red / amber / green lists constantly changing, it doesn't look as though I'll be going anywhere before this little one enters the world. A few people have asked me when I'll be selling the van, but I definitely don't have any plans to get rid of it!
I used to love camping adventures as a child and whilst friends raise a knowing eyebrow when I question how hard it can be with a little one in tow, my intention is to show this child as much of the world as possible.
Let's Glow Baby! Podcast
At forty two and wordly wise .. you'd think pregnancy would feel like a breeze! Suddenly I seem to have endless lists of questions about pregnancy, childbirth and babies! Is it safe to go in a steam room? Is a vegan pregnancy okay for my unborn baby? Are cloth nappies really as impossible as people suggest? All these things I never really took much notice of when my friends were having kiddies a decade or so ago!
I'm also really keen to ensure my child does not experience the same distressing problems with his or her skin as I did growing up. There's so much research highlighting a babies delicate microbiome and all the ways in which we can protect it.
I'll be speaking to the very best dieticians, midwives, naturopaths, gut specialists and baby experts and recording our chats for my new podcast series 'Let's Glow Baby!' out this autumn.
Sharing My Story
I feel very privileged each day to have an amazing opportunity to tell my story. I'm very excited for this next chapter in my life and can't wait to share the adventures with you.