Having Babies After 40. My Experience.

I distinctly remember standing in my office looking out over the busy Cardiff street and wondering if I would ever have a baby after 40. I had just celebrated my 40th birthday and, although my biological clock had long been ignored, I was beginning to feel that there had to be more to life than marketing legal services! Odd that it took at least 20 years to come to that conclusion, but there you are.

have a baby after 40 - Caitlin Hobbis on the day of her birth in 2011
Caitlin, born November 2007

I’m writing this because I want to say, to any woman out there staring out of the window this morning and wishing, that it is possible to have a baby after 40.  Yes, of course, we read in the Media about the number of babies being born to older mothers increasing year on year.  Yes, we see the endless debates about whether it is “right” to have a baby so close to, let’s be frank, the menopause. It is, detractors say, selfish to create a life when you are so close to conking out yourself.  Your children will be ‘mortified’ when you turn up at the school gates wearing elasticated trousers and bearing a zimmer frame.

Well, here’s a newsflash.  Having a baby is a ‘selfish’ act.  We are programmed to reproduce.  We are not actually on the planet to rearrange scatter cushions and pet the cat. Survival of the species is all. I am not talking about here about assisted conception, merely the perfectly natural urge of a woman to bear children in her reproductive years – which generally continue into her forties.

My story is briefly this.  It took over a year to conceive my daughter and in fact, our first attempt resulted in a miscarriage at 6 weeks.  The consultant we saw at the hospital was completely matter-of-fact about it. The baby’s heart was not beating and I could either have a D&C or go home and let nature take its course.  Devastating as this was, it became clear upon consulting “Dr Google”, that miscarriage is incredibly common and not necessarily a bar to going on to conceive and deliver a healthy child.

We tried again.  We tried modifying our diets.  Little caffeine, reduced alcohol, exercise, taking my temperature (useless – it didn’t seem to move at all), tracking ovulation dates, standing on our heads…. you get the picture. After about a year of this I had come to the conclusion that, at 42, it just wasn’t going to happen and was referred to the consultant (who would later become my maternity consultant) with a view to fertility treatment.

During my examination (which featured what seems to be the obligatory medical student these days), the consultant pointed out that my eggs looked perfectly OK and I was about to ovulate.

Somewhat cheered by this I began to relax and on Valentines Day we went to a local Cardiff restaurant to celebrate where, for the first time in months, too much wine was consumed and Caitlin was later conceived.  I am convinced that as soon as I relaxed, my body was more willing to co-operate. I think stress is a huge bar to conception for some women.

I sailed through the pregnancy, although I managed to put on four stone! Although I did not have morning sickness, I had a constant gnawing hunger and indigestion which only cheese would stop. Aside from slightly low iron levels, rectified by a simple supplement, I had no other problems. You would not have known that I was 42.

Something that we did do, however, being aware of the increased risk of Down’s Syndrome and other genetic problems for older mothers, was to have a Nuchal Translucency Scan, for which we paid privately.  This is an ultrasound scan to measure the collection of fluid under the skin at the back of the baby’s neck which is an indicator of Down’s if the baby has an increased amount.  The results of my scan were encouraging and on par with those of a woman in her thirties apparently.

My waters broke in the early evening on 14th November and we duly took ourselves into the University Hospital of Wales where Caitlin was born by emergency caesarian the next morning weighing in at 7lb 14oz.  I had dutifully studied the Mothercare catalogue and typed up a birth plan but this was of no use whatsoever.  The surgery team were fantastic.  I felt no pain whatsoever thanks to an epidural and top up anaesthetic when I went into theatre. Two days later we were home.

I tried to breastfeed.  Expressing the colostrum (the pre-milk) to get things going was very painful. Once my milk came through Caitlin had difficulty latching on and never seemed to be able to get enough milk.  I used to watch whole episodes of Midsomer Murders whilst feeding.

When it became clear that Caitlin was not gaining sufficient weight and feeling incredibly guilty, I consulted my lovely midwife who said that I should not beat myself up about introducing Caitlin to the bottle and formula and that many, many women struggle with breastfeeding.  I had managed ten weeks so, although this wasn’t ideal, at least I had tried. Whether my breastfeeding problems had anything to do with my age, I’m not sure.  I think it’s doubtful.

We had decided that, if it were possible, to provide Caitlin with a sibling and started trying relatively soon on the basis that it took so long to conceive our daughter.   Ieuan was born when I was 45, just 18 months after Caitlin, this time by elective caesarian, at a bouncing 9 lbs 2 oz.  I put him straight onto formula and he downed 4 oz immediately.

Now I know that my way may not be yours.  You may not approve of caesareans or bottle feeding. You may not be as lucky as I was in terms of your own fertility.  I was lucky enough to find a wonderful man to support me and who wanted to start a family.  The truth is each of us may have our own obstacles to overcome but, as the quote says “we will either find a way or make one”.

What I want you to take away from this is that being an older mum and it is possible to have a baby after 40 is possible.  It is your life. Decide what is right for you and what compromises you are prepared to make. For example, I worry sometimes about dying before my kids have reached middle age. There is an increased pressure on us as a couple to keep ourselves healthy and young in outlook.

Baby Ieuan - having babies over 40 - motherdistracted.co.uk
Ieuan’s First Christmas in 2009

But if I think of my life without Caitlin and Ieuan now, it would be somehow pointless, barren and flat.  Of course, I wish that I could have met my husband ten or fifteen years ago, but perhaps I wouldn’t have been ready then, wouldn’t have had the wisdom, patience or, more importantly, the courage I have now.

And that is what I wish for you.  Courage.  And hope.


  1. Jenny
    26 September, 2021 / 1:15 am

    I had my first two children at 30 and 32. Around 38 I began craving another baby. I did at 42. We tried for years.When I gave up, I got pregnant. Also, got a dog and got my hormones checked two months before, had low testosterone and was given a cream. Within a month of getting the puppy, I was pregnant. Relax, have faith, be natural and don’t let anyone get in your head. I am a way better mother now, no regrets, it’s was meant to be. Great article.

  2. Tafa
    25 May, 2021 / 5:34 am

    Great perspective! I’m 40 and preggo right now. Just to disagree slightly though, I don’t think having a child – your own, or adopted, or fostered- is a selfish act. Never will you give so much of yourself, never will you make such sacrifices, even to the extent of being willing to lay down your very life. To the naysayers who yell ‘selfish!’, I call BS. But I appreciate you trying to embrace the label 😀

    • Lani
      22 June, 2021 / 12:09 pm

      Choosing to have a child is absolutely a selfish act. It doesn’t have to mean that the word “selfish” is negative… but let’s be honest… you are having that child for yourself. The child didn’t exist before…so you can’t be doing it for them.
      And then – yes – a lifetime of selflessness once the child is born, and as you raise the child.

  3. Candi
    10 March, 2021 / 5:31 pm

    Thank you! It was as if this was written for me! Your daughter Caitlin’s birth weight is my actual birthday, so I took that as a sign! Really inspiring – thank you for being so transparent!

  4. Nicole
    15 February, 2021 / 12:13 am

    Thanks for this, I’m 38, single and the panic is there. This helped.

  5. Kyla Prior
    9 February, 2021 / 9:33 am

    This has filled me with hope and lifted my determination to keep trying after a recent miscarriage, thank you. At 47, my husband is 37, we are trying for our first child together. My other children from a previous relationship are older and I lost my eldest son at just 17. We would love the joy of sharing a life with our child and believe after everything we’ve been through some luck and joy is waiting somewhere for us. Happiness to you all x

  6. Andrea Drysdale
    29 October, 2020 / 5:09 pm

    Love this story. I’m about to be 41. I need to have fibroid removal surgery over the next 6 months & then I really want to try for a 2nd & 3rd baby (My first is now 17yrs old) I love being a mum & definitely am having the urge to do it again now that i’m older & settled into my life. My son is actually encouraging me as well!! We’ll see how it goes…

  7. Kirsteen Mackay
    11 January, 2019 / 7:49 pm

    This is a really nice post, not preachy and very encouraging in a sensible way.

  8. amy cooper
    19 April, 2015 / 2:56 pm

    such a lovely post no-one has the right to judge whay age people choose to have children I decided to have mine alot younger than most but along as everyones happy who cares! I think this will silence the critics well done xx

  9. Karen (@karenjwhitlock)
    13 April, 2015 / 7:07 pm

    Such a lovely post that will no doubt give a lot of hope to "older" couples trying for a baby. Your two are gorgeous x

  10. Caro Davies
    12 April, 2015 / 9:24 pm

    What an absolutely lovely post! I love how positive you are — I read a post last year about how having babies in your 40s was a nightmare, which prompted me to write a response on my blog.

    I struggled to conceive — for many many years — but finally had our babies when I turned 40. I have found it an amazing experience and loved every second. So glad that you're having a similar experience! x #SundayStars

  11. Esther James
    6 March, 2015 / 9:14 pm

    Love your post- really inspiring and you have 2 beautiful kids!

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