Is it Selfish to Have a Baby in Your Forties?

If you had asked me when I was a young career girl just setting out in the world whether I would be having a baby in my forties, I would probably have told you absolutely not. Back then, pregnancy in your forties seemed to be an accident of fate, not something a woman would, or could actively choose. Despite this, I had my children at 43 and 45 (I’m now 56) and I know that I have been extremely lucky.

pregnancy in your forties - baby on a bed drinking from a bottle

My grandmother had a child at 45 so, whether or not there is a genetic predisposition to being able to have children later in life, I’m still aware that I managed the best feat of my life just in time – which leads me to …

Pregnancy in your forties

Is it selfish to have a baby in your forties?

One of the most frequent questions I am asked is “is it selfish to have a baby in your forties?”.  Aside from the fact that, if you are financially solvent and in good health it is nobody else’s business, I think that nature designed us to have babies until menopause – which is, on average around age 51.

The question is, are you happy to accept that you may not be around for your kids as long as younger parents?

Even then, life does not hand anyone a guarantee of a long life span – the COVID-19 epidemic has surely proved that one.

And what about crime rates, poverty, climate change and all the other global issues facing us daily? Is this world really a great place to bring a child into?

History teaches us that our world today is safer than that experienced by previous generations.

Ultimately you must do what is right for you – whether to have children or indeed not to have children is your choice – not that of a keyboard warrior on Twitter!

Oh, and by the way, I rarely see older dads getting criticised.  Usually, it’s a slap on the back and a hearty ‘well done’!

So, that said, here’s my story.

Is natural conception still possible?

What was surprising was just how long it took. Despite being in my 40’s I somehow thought that conception would be nothing short of immaculate and when it took over a year, I found myself reading numerous books on improving your fertility the natural way and taking my temperature every morning to track ovulation.

My temperature never seemed to budge. Tracking the ‘ten most fertile days’ made sex about as exciting as cardboard and turned it from recreational fun to a chore and a duty.

I suffer an early miscarriage

I lost my first child at approximately 6-7 weeks. The charmless consultant gynaecologist we saw made it clear that he viewed this miscarriage as nothing more than a missed period. “You can hang on to see if there’s a heartbeat”, he told us, “or we’ll have you in and whip it out”. A managed miscarriage at home was the option we eventually took, wanting to see if the initial scans were wrong. They weren’t.

Pregnancy in your forties - Caitlin

Caitlin born 2007

It was back to the temperature taking and the headstands for about another year until, one Valentine’s evening, having practically given up, we went out for a romantic meal and got ever so slightly sloshed.

Caitlin was born the following November. And then, the October before Caitlin’s 1st Birthday, Ieuan was conceived. Having waited so long for Caitlin, we assumed it would take a couple of years to give her a sibling. I should have listened to my wonderful midwife who told me that once you have had a child, it’s as if your motor starts to work properly and that I shouldn’t be surprised if it didn’t take long.

Ieuan, born 2009

Pregnancy Scans

We were aware of the risks of late pregnancy. I had a nuchal translucency scan (which we paid for) with Caitlin and amniocentesis (on the NHS) with Ieuan. What we would have done in the event of any genetic problems, I still couldn’t tell you.

I had two perfectly healthy pregnancies

Aside from a slightly low iron level for which I was required to take supplements in order to be admitted for Ieuan’s Caesarian, I sailed through both pregnancies.

As an older mother, I was put under the care of a consultant and this led us down the route of a hospital birth close to an operating theatre and surgeons rather than the candle-lit water birth in a nearer hospital I fancied.

I suffered the discomfort of permanent indigestion for the first trimester with Caitlin and very mild morning sickness with Ieuan but that was it.

I did put on a lot of weight (4 stone) with Caitlin but I found that eating cheese was the only thing that stopped the terrible heartburn.

Both babies were born by Caesarian

Caitlin was delivered by emergency Caesarian as her breathing became laboured due to the umbilical cord becoming wrapped around her neck.  Ieuan was born by elective Caesarian.  I did have the option of a VBAC (vaginal birth after Caesarian) but given my age, preferred the reassurance of a swift and managed delivery.

The recovery time after a Caesarian is something to consider.  I had anti-clotting injections and had to wear special socks for a few days and, of course, driving and lifting were no-nos.  My recovery from both C-sections was swift and, apart from having to have antibiotics for an infected scar, I was quickly back on my feet.

I do think that having two Caesarians close together may have had an effect on my abdominal muscles and my back but that could equally be a factor of all the weight I gained.

I struggled to breastfeed

I really wanted to breastfeed but after 10 weeks with Caitlin, we discovered she really wasn’t putting on weight so we swopped to Formula.  When Ieuan was born he went straight on to bottle feeding.

I found breastfeeding challenging and certainly not the straightforward experience I was expecting.  There’s an art to getting your baby to latch on and you may well need to be shown how to do it.  Of course, some mums take to it like a duck to water, but I wasn’t one of them.

I should point out too that I find the bullying of those mums who choose to have their babies by Caesarian or those who, for whatever reason, choose not to breastfeed totally obnoxious.  Luckily I have not experienced either but I do know mums who have. In these cases, it really isn’t the baby who needs to grow up.

Why didn’t I do it sooner?

I have friends older than me who have had children at an equally late age. I also have quite a few friends in their mid-thirties who think that they have all the time in the world to reproduce, when the truth is, the clock is ever ticking. Some of my friends must look at me and think “well, SHE did it” but it’s easy to kid yourself, isn’t it?

I regret not having had my children at least ten years ago. In the end, my career (as a Marketing Manager and later Director) simply could not match up to the joy of having kids but I didn’t meet my husband until I was 41.

This is the dilemma facing many women. Do we put our heart and soul into a career and hope that Mr Right will just come along, by which time we may no longer be fertile or able to carry a child? Or do we pursue a partner and children whilst we are still in our most fertile years, hoping that we can resume our education and career when the children are in school?

Can Women Ever “Have It All”?

I am a great fan of the late Helen Gurley Brown (who, with her husband, created the Cosmopolitan magazine empire) and read her book “Having it All” (still available from Amazon) from cover to cover in my early twenties. Helen believed the sky was the limit – primarily in terms of work and sex, but I think most women will agree that today, “having it all” is an impossibility. That said, I’d still recommend Helen’s work just to admire her incredible work ethic and zest for life.

I’m now faced with the prospect of staying as fit, healthy and mentally ‘young’ as possible. Not so much because I worry about the opinion of other mothers (although I’d be lying if I said I was totally immune to it), but for the sake of my children. As Hubby says “well, we just can’t conk out early”…

Pregnancy in your forties is not a decision to be taken lightly. All pregnancies are life-changing and I think older mums face a different set of challenges in terms of juggling their health challenges with the needs of young children. Facing the fact that you might not have as long with your kids as younger mums can be hard – but there are no guarantees of long life at either end of the age spectrum, are there?

If you are considering pregnancy in your forties, I’d advise visiting your GP to check you are fit and healthy before trying to conceive so that you give yourself and your baby the best possible chance of a successful pregnancy and a healthy delivery.

The process may take quite a while and you may find out that you need help to conceive but it is better to discover this early on rather than risk the heartache of miscarriage and other pregnancy complications.

The Best Pregnancy & New Mum Bibles I Swear By

When you’re pregnant, you’ve often plenty of time to research every aspect of pregnancy – and there’s LOADS of information out there. If you’re anything like me, you’ll be reading all the pregnancy and baby books you can get your hands on! Particularly if you’re an older mum too (anything over 35).

pregnancy and baby books - pregnancy woman reading on a yellow sofa

There are distinct schools of thought on the best way to bring up baby, from the controlled crying techniques of Gina Ford to the co-sleeping recommendations of James J. McKenna.

Pram or baby sling? Breastfeed or bottle feed? Cot or Moses basket? There are reams of information on every aspect of motherhood even down to what to put in your hospital bag.

You really need clear, concise information from a reputable source you can trust and these pregnancy and baby books became my bibles. I heartily recommend all of them.

What to Expect When You’re Expecting by Heidi Murkoff

This was the book I turned to every night and at every twinge.  Murkoff does not sugar-coat the information and points out what can go wrong as well as what is usually nothing to worry about. Don’t expect cuddly photos of newborns, but do expect practical, “does what it says on the tin” advice.

Pregnancy and baby books: cover of What to Expect When You're Expecting (4th edition)

The latest edition (the fourth) has been completely revised and updated.

“Heidi Murkoff has rewritten every section of the book, answering dozens of new questions and including loads of new asked-for material, such as a detailed week-by-week foetal development section in each of the monthly chapters, an expanded chapter on pre-conception, and a brand new one on carrying multiples.

The Fourth Edition incorporates the most recent developments in obstetrics and addresses the most current lifestyle trends (from tattooing and belly piercing to Botox and aromatherapy).

There’s more than ever on pregnancy matters practical (including an expanded section on workplace concerns), physical (with more symptoms, more solutions), emotional (advice on riding the mood roller coaster), nutritional (from low-carb to vegan, from junk food-dependent to caffeine-addicted), and sexual (what’s hot and what’s not in pregnant lovemaking), as well as much more support for that very important partner in parenting, the dad-to-be”.

Your New Pregnancy Bible – The Experts Guide To Pregnancy And Early Parenthood by Dr Anne Deans

On the other hand, if you want to spend, like I did, hours staring at pictures of developing babies so you can gauge how big your little one is at every stage of your pregnancy, this is the book for you.

Pregnancy and baby books: cover of Your New Pregnancy Bible by Dr Anne Deans

Far friendlier in tone than “What to Expect”,  it has clear explanations of the labour process and a great medical reference section. It gives added peace of mind because it was written by a team of eminent specialists under the direction of a leading UK obstetrician.

“….this latest edition of Your Pregnancy Bible has been updated to take account of recent changes in antenatal and newborn care and to provide a more comprehensive discussion of caesarean deliveries.

Given a fresh design, it still contains special fold-out sections on each of the trimesters and the birth process; week-by-week images of the developing baby; in-depth chapters dealing with all aspects of antenatal care, labour preparation, delivery experiences and care of the newborn; comprehensive reference sections on medical treatments and procedures in both pregnancy and the postnatal period and an extensive glossary of ante- and neonatal terminology”.

Secrets of the Baby Whisperer

When Caitlin was born I was completely clueless.  I hadn’t even put a nappy on a baby before.  And I certainly didn’t know anything about a day in the life of a baby.  For example, I had no idea that a newborn will need substantial naps during the day and will not be able to play for much more than 45 minutes at a time.

Pregnancy and baby books: cover of Secrets of The Baby Whisperer

It was with a huge sigh of relief that I stumbled upon Tracy Hogg’s wonderful Baby Whisperer books. Both this one and her problem solving guide (below) were invaluable in teaching me the importance of routines so that everyone in the family knows what is happening and where they are. Tracy sadly died in 2004 but her advice is still relevant today I think.

“In this remarkable parenting book, Tracy demystifies the magic she has performed with some five thousand babies. She teaches parents how to work out what kind of baby they have, what kind of mother and father they are, and what kind of parenting plan will work best for them.

Believing that babies need to become part of the family – rather than dominate it – she has developed a practical programme that works with infants as young as a day old. Her methods are also applauded by scientists: ‘Tracy’s is a voice that should be heard. She appears very knowledgeable about modern infant research and has incorporated this to a level parents can understand. In spite of all the baby how-tos on the market, this one will stand out.’

In case you’re wondering The Baby Whisperer method is often described as being in between crying it out methods and no tears methods. I liked it because Tracy does not advocate letting babies cry it out (unlike Gina Ford).

BUT she does not advocate “accidental parenting” which is where parents accidentally use props to get baby to sleep – like giving them a bottle, or rocking them, for example.

Several methods are given in the book to help parents teach their baby the all important sleep basics which includes a strictly structured routine (E.A.S.Y.) and the pick up put down (pu/pd) method for putting baby to bed.

E.A.S.Y. stands for Eating, Activity, Sleep and You and Tracy suggests timings for each activity according to the age of the baby.  The Pick Up, Put Down Method looks at how you put your baby to sleep in her cot and focuses on getting her to sleep alone.  Tracy suggests a “Four S” wind down ritual to set the scene (swaddling perhaps, sitting quietly, and shush-patting to help quieten your little one down). Even if you don’t adopt her ideas wholesale,  there are enough ideas in the book to help you work out what works for you and your baby.

The Baby Whisperer Solves All Your Problems

The follow-on book to “Secrets Of The Baby Whisperer”, this one answers a whole host of questions from parents of babies at differing stages of development.


It focuses on the “Big Three” – sleep, feeding and behaviour from infancy to the age of 3 and explains Tracy’s philosophy and methods in much greater detail.  I think you really need both of these books to get the best out of the system.

Annabel Karmel’s The Complete Baby and Toddler Meal Planner

Once Caitlin started her weaning around 4 months and had got past the baby rice and simple apple puree stage, I became completely stuck on what to feed her.  Annabel Karmel’s books were fantastic at giving a range of ideas for simple purees and combinations to educate your child’s palette and to introduce a wide range of foods.

I think it’s no coincidence that Caitlin will now eat anything and is quite adventurous in her tastes (olives, for example).   By the time Ieuan came along, he had less of a range of purees and mini-meals and is far fussier with food than his sister.

You will need a good blender and a range of freezer-proof pots in varying sizes.

Annabel Karmel is undoubtedly the UK’s No.1 author on feeding babies and children and this particular book is the one I turned to time and time again.

It contains: “the best first foods to try, tasty recipes and ideas for introducing more complex flavours and textures; meal planners and time-saving menu charts allowing you to highlight and record which recipes your children liked and disliked. The original version of this book has sold over 4 million copies worldwide, with Annabel becoming a leading resource for parents who want to give their growing family tasty, wholesome meals that even the fussiest eaters will love”.

So there you have it – my bibles, the pregnancy and baby books now handed on to other expectant and new mums so that they can feel as comforted by them as I did.  I’d love to hear about the books that you turned to during your pregnancy or that you are finding helpful whilst you await the arrival of your little one.

Things You Should Never Say To An Older Mum

I am an older mum. I had my first child at 43 in 2007 and my second at 45 in 2009. I believe the NHS termed me a geriatric mother, even though I was in better health and fitness than many of the much younger mums to be.

In the back of my mind, I was well aware that there would be those who would look on having a child in my forties as being selfish but, in general, most people have been accepting and nothing but kind.

older mum - new born baby in a blue blanket

On the other hand, there are those who can’t quite resist trotting out a few of the gems below:

“Oh, was it, you know, a natural conception?”

People are fascinated by how we late mums conceived.  It is a reasonable enough question I suppose and I do know women older than me who have travelled abroad for IVF by donor egg.

But why people can’t quite grasp that until you have your menopause, you are still technically able to have a child, I don’t know. Does the method of conception affect your ability to be a good parent? Hardly. And, the answer to the question is, yes it was.

“But aren’t you menopausal“?  

The average age for menopause in the UK is 51.  And average, maths lovers, means that many women will reach menopause AFTER that age.

“But aren’t you very tired?”

Having a child is tiring.  Having two children is even more tiring.  Prior to giving birth, I was not spending my days lying on a chaise longue being fed peeled grapes.  I could even walk unaided. Younger mums also feel very tired, trust me.

“I suppose you find you’re so much more patient

Nope. I still have all the patience of my son in the Lego shop.  I think anyone who has a child (or adopts, fosters or becomes a stepparent, come to that), goes through a rapid learning curve, taking on all sorts of skills and personality traits that they never previously considered.  I’m still as impatient but I am learning strategies to deal with it. Rioja for instance.

“So when you’re reaching retirement, they will only just be going to college?”

Possibly true but given that retirement age will probably reach 70 for all of us sooner or later, I might not quite have a bus pass. Us late mums are hit by a triple whammy – retirement, kids’ university fees and caring for elderly parents.

I think in future the shape of the family will change; extended family will become much more important and child care will be shared through the generations (in a model which already exists in parts of Europe).

I think our friends will play an important role too. Stats say that something like 1 in 4 women born around 1964 (my birth year) are childless. I have many friends who are single, childless and in poor health and I can quite envisage adding them to the family mix!

older mum Linda Hobbis, hubby Mat, Caitlin and Ieuan

But don’t you and your husband worry about dying while your children are still young?”

Of course we do!  One of our main preoccupations is staving off illness and making sure we maintain a decent level of fitness. But life doesn’t come with a guarantee and parents can die at any age. I wish I had met my husband ten years ago. I wish my first pregnancy (a year before my daughter) hadn’t ended in an early miscarriage. I wish I wasn’t an older mum. I wish. I wish. I wish.

I would still tell younger women to have children in their twenties and thirties whilst their fertility is much higher, but I completely understand why women choose to have babies in their forties.

For me, the chance to experience having children and build a family would always outweigh anything I could possibly achieve in my career (I was a marketing director for a Welsh law firm).

You can call it selfish if you like. But I maintain that having a baby is always a selfish act. As Richard Dawkins explains in his book “The Selfish Gene“, we are programmed to reproduce to ensure our species’ survival.  The drive is more primal than just the urge to paint a nursery and knit booties.

When the time is right we will sit down with our kids and tell them the story of their birth and reassure them that we will do everything in our power to stay with them as long as we are needed.  We will tell them that they were wanted, loved and not some random throw of a dice in the last chance fertility saloon.

I often wonder what my life would have been like if I had not had children.  I might have had a better wardrobe, more exotic holidays and a flasher kitchen but I think I would have felt dead inside – like my life had been a bit of a waste.

It is, of course, a personal choice and, equally, there are many women who just don’t want to have children and whose lives are just as rich and fulfilled.

But I’m talking here to those fighting against their biological clock whilst wondering if it’s too late or even whether they should try for a baby.

I’m happy to talk about my experience as an older mum but please try to remember that it is the Pacific Salmon that dies after spawning.  I’ve never felt more alive.


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 -
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.

Baby On The Way? Home Hacks For House Proud Parents

Getting your home ready for a baby is one of the more pleasurable aspects of pregnancy – at least it is something else to focus on instead of any pregnancy aches and pains.  There’s a particular joy in planning a nursery and buying those cute bedding sets and soft toys.

It’s more of a challenge, of course, to keep the home looking spick and span once baby has arrived and you may find that the way you use your home space changes entirely.

I think I missed a trick because I probably should have got myself a bit more organised before I had kids and, when you’re in that nesting phase, it’s a great time to prepare yourself for the nappy onslaught whilst still maintaining an elegant home.

If you’d like to know how your home can look more polished than demolished, then here are some tips from Tommee Tippee ambassador, Sommer Pyne, owner of House Curious and mum to Lyla and Indy.

How to get your home ready for a baby

1. Get organised

As boring as it may sound getting organised and having everything in its place before the baby arrives will help you feel empowered and in control.

When you have the energy, start sorting through your cupboards and do a big cleanout. Get rid of anything that you don’t need to make space for all your new baby supplies!

Some things you’ll want to store away such as bottles, sterilising equipment and toys, but there may be other things that you need on display for quick and easy access.

Go through each room and think about how you’ll use the space.

Make a list of the things you need quick access to or that can be put away.

2. Feeding

Like many of us, Somer had a hard time with breastfeeding the first time around.  “I was feeding hourly and my daughter never seemed to get enough milk”, she says. “My saving grace and something I recommend to all my friends is to swap the night feed for formula. It was life-changing for me and my daughter slept through and gave my body a much-needed break”.

With formula feeding, you have a lot more equipment so that’s why it’s good to be organised. Make things easy for yourself so when you need to prep the baby’s bottle at 3 am you have everything to hand.

3. Storage solutions

Baby station

In the rooms that you spend most of your time in – like the living room, bedroom and kitchen – set up baby stations with all your baby essentials neatly packed away and on hand whenever you need them.


Somer says “my daughter has a lot of toys but we cleverly hide them away so our house doesn’t look like a toy shop”.

Baskets not only look great but can also hide a mountain of things. Buy a decorative basket, put a sheet inside and fill it with all your child’s toys. Tie it up or just twist the top so it keeps everything together.

On top place a lovely woollen blanket or throw to hide the sheet and toys. This makes a great decorative piece just like you’ve seen in those stylish boutique hotels.


If you don’t have money to buy storage units or cupboards, a nice vintage chest is a great way to store games, toys or even blankets. You can also use them as a side table for when guests show up.

Built-in units

If you’re doing a renovation or redecorating it’s worth investing in good storage. Don’t go to branded cupboard designers, a good carpenter should be able to knock something bespoke up for half the price.

4. Practical and fuss-free interiors

Somer doesn’t like to compromise on her interior style so she still has velvet and fabric sofas. “My house probably doesn’t seem that kid-friendly but it is in so many ways”, she says.


If comfort and style are high up on your list, what can you do to protect your furniture? The simple answer to this is to have a large throw or sheet to hand that can be easily stored under the sofa or in a cupboard.

When you are nursing or playing with your baby on the sofa cover it with the throw or sheet so that it’s protected.

Let’s be honest there are going to be moments of projectile vomit and if you’re already a mum/dad the chances are you have enough poo stories.


If you’re redecorating consider the flooring carefully because this not only has a huge impact on the overall style of your home but we also know how messy kids can be… carpet may not be the smartest idea!

In Somer’s house, she only has concrete floors and wooden floors. So, no matter how many accidents there are, they’re easy to clean.

Clutter free

Get rid of the clutter and simplify your space with just the essentials and decorative pieces you absolutely love. In Somer’s family room, there is no coffee table in the middle and most of her decorative pieces are up high on the fireplace or on shelves. This way her daughter can run around freely without bumping her head on sharp edges. The other alternative is to have a soft ottoman.

Different zones

Have areas that are no go kid’s zones. Somer has a great family room and her daughter’s bedroom for her many toys, but there are certain rooms that are out of bounds.

Low cost interiors

It can be expensive prepping for a baby’s arrival but there are so many low-cost options. Ikea is brilliant for nursery furniture, Primark Home and the baby section for your essentials and Next is great for affordable clothing.

5. Decorating your nursery

Decorating the nursery can be a lovely experience but I know for some parents it can be a bit overwhelming. Here are some of my tips to help ease the pain:

Don’t worry about matching furniture I think it looks more eclectic and fun when you mix it up.

Don’t be fooled into thinking you must buy nursery furniture. Other than the cot the rest can be furniture that you already own.

For example, for Somer’s first baby she didn’t buy a changing station but simply used a vintage chest of drawers and placed a changing mat on top with all her essentials on display.

Be bold and creative; think about what colours appeal to you and how you want the room to feel. The baby won’t notice the décor but you will and you’ll be spending a lot of time in the nursery.

It’s important to create a relaxing environment so you will want to invest in a comfy chair – you don’t have to buy a nursing chair – buy something you like that will outgrow your children. Soft rugs are always a good idea and don’t forget your throws and cushions.

Are you getting your home ready for a baby?  How are you preparing your home?

Why I’m buying pregnancy testing kits in my 50’s

It’s highly ironic, I think, that I have spent more on pregnancy testing kits in my late forties and early fifties than I did in my twenties. This has nothing to do with not using contraception but everything to do with not knowing exactly whether I am menopausal or not.  The question is, can you get pregnant during menopause?

My periods now turn up every 8 weeks or so and it seems to be a lottery as to which month they choose to appear.

pregnant during menopause - baby Caitlin

Caitlin Elizabeth, both in 2007 when I was 43.

It can take so long that it’s a toss-up whether the menopause has finally started, or whether I am pregnant – which, at 53 would be a surprise I really don’t want.  We have all read those surprise baby at 50 stories and wondered how happy the mum to be really is to be pregnant during menopause!

In fact, the trip down to chemist for a pregnancy testing kit is far more fraught with mixed emotions than it used to be.

One the one hand a late baby (and mine were already pretty late at 43 and 45) would turn our lives upside down but the thought of no longer being fertile is quite a psychological event in any woman’s life.

I can understand why menopause used to be referred to as “the change”.

Some women define themselves by their fertility.

They love having babies.

For them, it is the ultimate proof of womanhood.

For many of us though, having children is something we do to complete a relationship – because we believe in family – rather than an obedience to the ticking of our biological clock.

There is plenty of information online about pre-menopause symptoms.

This article at lists no less than 66 symptoms to look out for – including headaches, exhaustion, decreased motor coordination, night sweats, insomnia, muscle cramps and backache.

But there is such a wide variety of symptoms that could apply to almost any illness, it doesn’t really help you to decide whether you do indeed have menopause symptoms.

Irregular periods are certainly one symptom, as is menopause weight gain, the appearance of a rounder, fuller middle.  And while I suspect I might occasionally have experienced a hot flush or flash (as our American cousins call them), I’m still not entirely sure.

My GP says that to see whether or not I am menopausal, I would need a blood test  to measure the level of the follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) which can be an indication of menopause, but there is no definitive test.

This could only be carried out if I stopped taking the contraceptive pill.

That sounds way too risky to me so I’m stuck in some sort of perimenopausal wasteland until I haven’t had a period for at least a year.

So, what are the chance of conceiving naturally during your 40s and even 50s, and what about pregnancy during menopause?

In your 40s, your chances of getting pregnant naturally are about 20%, falling to less than 5% in your mid-40s and 50s.

There is also the increased risk of chromosomal abnormalities and a higher chance of miscarriage.

Nevertheless, I conceived naturally twice during my mid to late forties so there is hope if you have also left it late to start a family.

In terms of IVF, in your early forties, you have roughly a one in five to one in 10 chance of a live birth per treatment cycle.

From age 43 onwards, success rates fall to around one to five live births for every 100 women.

From 43 to 44 onwards, your chances of success using your own eggs really are minimal, because conception rates per cycle of IVF are so low. (source

Also, mothers over 50 are at almost three times the risk of low birth weight, premature birth, and extremely premature birth and their risk of giving birth to an extremely low birth weight baby and the risk of fetal mortality was almost double. (source:  Wikipedia).

Surprisingly. pregnancy during menopause (which you’d think would be impossible since you’re not producing any eggs), is possible. Here’s an explanation from

“Menopause drastically changes a woman’s body. When menopause occurs, a woman no longer gets a monthly menstrual period.

This is because the hormones that trigger ovulation and pregnancy are no longer as strong in the body as they were when the woman was twenty years younger.

Estrogen and progesterone will drop, and this will cause the body to no longer have the ability to get pregnant.

But since the process of menopause takes anywhere from five to ten years to complete, this is an awkward time in a woman’s life.

She will still have a chance of getting pregnant.  She could still be one of those pregnant at 50 stories.

With menopause, the hormone levels will drop, but there are times when they will spike during the course of the change.

At this time, a woman’s body can be able to still conceive a child, giving into the fact that a woman can get pregnant during or what they think is after menopause”.

So, even though I know the chances of conceiving are very small, I don’t want to take any chances.

If I were to get pregnant through some random last throw of the fertility dice, I would have the baby but as a late mother, I am already worried about being in my 60s when my kids leave school.

That’s the thing late mothers may not admit to;  the pressure to live longer, not to conk out, to remain a fully functioning parent to support their kids as long as possible.

To undertake this commitment in your 50s must be huge.

The other day I was asked by a lady who had her three children in her twenties whether I thought having children in your forties was selfish.

My honest, and immediate answer was yes.

I’ve written before that having children is in many ways a selfish act at any age but there is the extra poignancy of having a late baby – a kind of bitter-sweetness overladen with a hefty dollop of guilt.

For the next year or two, I’m guessing I’ll be a frequent visitor to the chemist.

Update – April 2018:  I haven’t had a period in over 2 years and although my FSH levels indicate I am menopausal, my doctor has not yet given me the ‘all clear’ so I am still on the pill – at nearly 54!

IVF With Donor Egg – Your Options When Infertility Strikes

The journey to parenthood isn’t always easy, especially for the one in seven couples or 3.5 million people in the UK having trouble conceiving. It’s becoming more and more common to see fertility tests for males happening at clinics along with the older women, whose fertility dramatically decreases after the age of 35.

Mums hands with baby's feet. IVF with donor egg could be the way forward when infertility strikes

As many women look to start families in their late thirties and forties, it’s not surprising to see In Vitro Fertilisation (IVF) using donor eggs grow in popularity, especially since the cost of donor eggs with Donor Egg Bank USA is much lower when compared to the cost of other fertility options.

If you’re struggling with infertility, the good news is there are options available that can help you to start a family.

Infertility Options

Understanding your options can provide an important sense of relief and hope after learning you’re infertile. It’s not unusual to experience a range of strong emotions such as shock, anger, anxiety, fear and sadness. One of the most effective ways of dealing with these feelings and regaining a sense of control is to gather as much information about your options as possible.

Fertility options can include medical treatment to improve ovulation and surgical procedures. Yet, these options may not address the infertility causes for all couples.

Intrauterine Insemination (IUI) or In Vitro Fertilisation (IVF) may be a better option for many couples, but there’s no guarantee it will be successful. The success rates for IVF treatment for women over 40 using their own eggs is quite low.

If traditional IVF fails, couples may believe adoption is their only option, but there is also the highly effective alternative of IVF with donor egg to consider. This option gives the woman the chance to carry her child, and the couple the opportunity to experience the joy of pregnancy first-hand.

Hands holding a nest and an egg inscribed with the word Hope - IVF with donor egg could be the way forward when infertility strikes.

The Donor Egg IVF Process

The donor egg IVF process starts with sourcing an egg donor. Some women find a donor among family or friends, while others use a clinic, agency or egg bank.

When choosing a donor egg program, look for one that provides sufficient information about the donor such as family medical history, physical characteristics of the donor, and other details such as education and accomplishments.

Fresh vs Frozen Donor Egg

If using a donor egg program, you will need to consider whether you wish to use fresh or frozen donor egg.

When using fresh donor egg, a donor and recipient’s menstrual cycles must be synchronised. The recipient is also responsible for the full cost of the donor’s medications and associated costs.

If you use frozen eggs there is no need to synchronise cycles, so the whole process can happen quicker – in as little as four weeks.

Additionally, the use of frozen donor egg is less expensive since the eggs have already been retrieved and may be divided among several recipients. The costs are about half as much as using fresh donor eggs, and can be bundled into a fixed-price financial plan. Some companies even offer money-back guarantee plans.

Frozen Donor Egg Process

Assuming frozen donor eggs are your preferred option, your selected donor egg lot will be shipped to a fertility clinic near you. You are likely to receive approximately five or more mature eggs that have been screened for genetic suitability.

The IVF Transfer

Once you are ready to proceed with the IVF transfer, you will be given medications to thicken your uterine lining. Your lining and hormones are monitored to confirm readiness for transfer. Next, the eggs will be removed from storage and quickly re-hydrated or warmed before your partner’s sperm is used to fertilise the eggs.

The fertilised eggs become embryos that are monitored for development over the next 3-5 days by an embryologist who will identify the most viable embryo or embryos for transfer.

Finally, the embryo or embryos will be transferred into your uterus using ultrasound technology and a thin catheter. The process is straightforward and painless for most women and doesn’t require an anaesthetic.

The Two Week Wait

One of the most difficult parts of the IVF process is the two-week period after the transfer when you are waiting to undergo a pregnancy test.

Try not to obsess about pregnancy symptoms during this period. Instead, focus on fun activities or other distractions to keep your mind off the wait.

After two weeks, you will have a blood test that measures the level of HCG (Human Chorionic Gonadotropin), also known as the pregnancy hormone.

Your clinic will advise you of your results and any next steps.

Build Your Family with Donor Eggs

If conceiving with your own eggs is no longer possible, donor egg IVF may be the answer to helping you realise your dream of having a baby.

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Pin for later: IVF with donor egg

Breastfeeding Products From Lansinoh Family

It’s sometimes easy to think that breastfeeding is something that we mums can just pick up automatically but the truth is that it can take time, effort and persistence to learn how to feed your baby.

Mother Distracted Breast Feeding Giveaway - sleeping baby

There is little doubt that breast is best if you are able to feed this way but not all of us can and I think it is important that mums support each other no matter whether they choose breast or bottle.

There are things you can do to make breastfeeding easier because let’s be frank, it can often leave you sore and uncomfortable.

If you’re new to breastfeeding, finding the best breast pump can be difficult have a guide to tell you the answer to that very question.

Lansinoh offers a range of products to support breastfeeding mums including, bottles, breast pumps, nursing pads and their multi-award-winning HPA Lanolin – 100% pure lanolin to help soothe sore and cracked nipples.  You can now buy it in a 10ml travel size too (and it makes a great lip balm!).

Lansinoh Family wants to encourage mums to feed with confidence and you can find loads of helpful advice on their website, including a new mums’ club- The Happy Tummy Club.

There are also loads of books which new parents might find helpful too.  These are some of my recommendations.

Here are some of the Lansinoh products which may make breastfeeding easier for you.

Lansinoh manual breast pump

Mother Distracted Giveaway Lansinoh Breast Feeding Products

BPA and BPS Free, this manual breast pump has adjustable 2 phase technology – the ‘let down’ phase enables rapid pumping rhythm to stimulate and initiate milk flow and the  ‘expression phase’ enables slower, pumping rhythm to maximise milk flow

It has a ComfortFit™ breast cushion – for better fit and suction for more efficient pumping, an ergonomic easy-express™ handle – to reduce hand fatigue and comes with a Lansinoh® feeding bottle which fits with the entire Lansinoh pump and bottle range.

Lansinoh nursing pads (pack of 24)

Mother Distracted Breast Feeding Giveaway Lansinoh Nursing Pads

These Disposable Nursing Pads with Blue Lock™ core are comfortable, ultra-absorbent, and designed to fit all breast sizes. They ensure that breastfeeding mums stay dry, night or day, and with their new ultra absorbency they can hold up to 20x their own weight.

Lansinoh Therapearl 3 in 1 hot/cold therapy

Mother Distracted Breast Feeding Giveaway Lansinoh Therapearl

Thera°Pearl 3-in-1 Breast Therapy packs have been uniquely designed by Lansinoh to be used either hot or cold to give advanced relief for a number of conditions associated with breastfeeding, and can even be used with a breast pump.

You can find Lansinoh products at a wide range of retailers, including Amazon, Morrisons, Sainsbury’s, Waitrose, Asda, Tesco and Boots.

Does Having a Baby Set A Woman’s Career Back Six Years?

One of the many important questions we women ask ourselves if we have invested heavily in our work is “will having a baby ruin my career”?

The bad news is that having a baby can set a woman’s career back six years, according to a study of mothers carried out in September 2017.

Will having a baby ruin my career? Woman taking notes at a laptop

Photo by Tran Mau Tri Tam on Unsplash

Will having a baby ruin my career?

Researchers found becoming a mum can lead to missed promotion opportunities, issues caused by staff, management or procedural changes in the workplace as well as the fact new mums arrive back at work with different priorities.

Around half of those polled said having a baby had a negative effect on their career, with 42 per cent of them believing they would be in a more senior position if they didn’t have kids.

It also emerged 37 per cent of working mums believe they have been discriminated against since having a child.

Commissioned by Easy Offices, the research of 1,000 mums with a child aged one to 13 also found four in 10 would advise mums-to-be to be ‘wary’ about returning to work following maternity leave.

A spokesman for Easy Offices said: “Many women will be wondering about how having a baby could affect their career.

“So we polled mothers who know from experience just what impact having a child can have.

“The findings show how difficult it is to adjust to the new priorities that come with having a baby but also suggest it can be hard to reintegrate into the workplace.”

Three in 10 have experienced negativity from colleagues because they have had to take time off to care for their kids.

And over a quarter admit they initially felt left out by colleagues when they came back to work.

Thirty-five per cent noticed a change in work processes, while a third said the dynamics in their team had changed.

Amid this, over a third of those surveyed believe it takes time to regain self-confidence in the workplace following the birth of a child.

Mums believe it typically takes 13 months to get back up to speed upon returning to work after maternity leave.

While half said it took time for them to get used to juggling work and looking after their children – on average taking them 15 months.

But, the survey carried out by, also found a quarter of those polled have left job roles because they found it too difficult to juggle both roles.

On average mothers said they went on maternity leave for 30 weeks – around seven months – for their most recent child.

However, three in ten didn’t return to the place they worked at prior to having a baby.

Those polled believe they have missed out on an average of two promotions during their time away from work.

A spokesman for Easy Offices added: “It may not be a surprise to learn having a baby changes your life but we might not realise just how long it takes to adjust to it – especially in the workplace.

“The working world moves forward at a fast pace so it’s understandable mums would find returning to work a bit of a shock to the system.

“Perhaps colleagues may not fully appreciate this point of view so mothers might feel more could be done to rectify this.”

For more information visit:

Problem Page Edition 16 2017

This week – handling commitment issues, spotting the signs of pregnancy and what to do when you can’t stop sleeping with your ex student.

Couple on a boardwalk looking over a lake and surrounded by mountains

If you would like any advice, feel free to treat me as your agony aunt. Just message me or pop a comment in the comment box at the end of this post. I promise to be gentle.

Here are this week’s questions.

Q: Should I stop casually dating this single mother all together? 

We’ve been having consistent casual sex for over a month ever since she moved close by. She has a 2-year-old toddler (boy) whose father isn’t involved much. What I don’t like is that she continually brings up step-dad talk even after I reject the role. She’s a cool person, but should I drop her?

A:I’m intrigued that you are ‘rejecting the step dad talk’ after just a month. 

Has she specifically mentioned this or are you just cheesed off that she rightly prioritises her son and his needs? 

This doesn’t sound as if it’s going anywhere and frankly if it’s just sex you’re after I’d move on before you mess with her, and her son’s feelings. 

If you date a woman with children, you can’t expect the child to take second place.

Q: I haven’t been in touch with my ex for a month (We just broke up) seems like he has had a new date already. Should I wish him happy birthday?

A: If you were the dumper as opposed to the dumpee and your ex took it badly, or you think there may be a chance of getting back together, then I would say absolutely. 

If you are hurting or want to send him the greeting to cast a little shade over his new relationship, I’m not sure it’s a good idea. 

Of course, after a little more time has passed, wishing your ex a happy birthday if you are on amicable terms is the mature thing to do, but this all sounds a little too soon and ever so slightly raw. 

Incidentally, the fact that he has a new date doesn’t mean much. Some men can’t stand to be on their own for two minutes. 

Without knowing the exact circumstances of your break-up it’s hard to advise more fully but I would let things lie this year and if he wants you back let him do the running.

Q: How soon will I know if I am pregnant?

A: Missing a period and possibly more than one period is the most reliable way to find out – although an over the counter pregnancy test will be 99.999% accurate and you can do a test after your first missed period. 

Some women do just know though – I had strange cramping in my uterus and felt tired and weepy.

It’s easier to know on the second pregnancy though. 

There are plenty of other signs – tender breasts, spots, frequent urination, increased discharge, light spotting (as opposed to the fuller flow of a period). 

If you are trying to get pregnant, make sure you are making healthy changes to your lifestyle and not stressing to give yourself the best chance – no booze, cigarettes, more exercise…. the usual common sense advice. 

And don’t expect to have sex once in a blue moon and then get pregnant first time. It may take a year or longer to conceive. It’s not necessarily the automatic process you think it is. 

If you think it is taking too long, see your GP to make sure you and your partner are in the fullest of health and whether any further investigation is needed.

Q: How do I handle a girl with commitment issues? 

We’ve been seeing each other for nearly 2 months. We’re exclusive and lately she’s been very intimate and likes to cuddle a lot and kiss more in public which she didn’t like to do before. However, she doesn’t want to label anything and would rather take things slow. How should I handle this?

A: 2 months is really a very short time and you probably don’t yet know each other very well beyond the initial attraction. 

You sound very keen and desperate to announce your relationship to all and sundry. She, on the other hand, does not. 

I think she is perfectly sensible to want to take things slowly. Perhaps she has been hurt before or she is mature enough to know that the initial passion can fizzle out leaving the relationship dead in the water if there is no solid friendship behind it. 

If, on the other hand, she won’t acknowledge your relationship to at least her family and closest friends, I would be a little suspicious. 

You use the term ‘exclusive’ – are you sure she’s not just trying to keep her options open? 

The only thing you can do is have a frank and open conversation about whether you really are exclusive but at just 2 months in, I don’t think you should be pushing for a firm commitment. 

Q: I slept with my ex student. I am married with kids. My body really craves for him. Is it normal?

A: I’m intrigued that you seem to ask completely the wrong question. 

Is it normal is really not the issue. Infidelity happens all the time. We know this and it does not excuse it. 

What you are really asking is can you justify sleeping with your ex student because your hormones are talking louder than your brain.

And the answer to that one is no.

But you know that, don’t you? 

To potentially throw away a marriage and embarass the hell out of your kids for a brief moment of passion doesn’t seem like much of an exchange to me. 

And as a mature woman, using the ‘my body made me and I can’t help myself’ card is a little lame, don’t you think? 

I sense that you are really miserable but unless you want to make things far worse (surely there’s a lack of professionalism in sleeping with an ex student too), I would quietly say goodbye to your fling, hope your husband doesn’t find out and focus on what you would lose if this all came to light. 

You’re human – of course you are – but if you’re looking for validation that you are still attractive and sexy, it’s your relationship with your husband that needs working on.

Don’t judge yourself too harshly but for heavens sake take a moment and think.

How would you have responded to these questions? I’d love to know. You can find more advice on my problem page

Disclaimer: All materials included in this post are intended for informational purposes only. This post/information is not intended to and should not be used to replace medical or psychiatric advice offered by physicians or other health care providers. The author will not be liable for any direct, indirect, consequential, special, exemplary or other damages arising therefrom. 

Review: I’m Wrecked This Is My Journal – The Alternative Baby Book For Frazzled Parents

If you’re not a fan of cutesy pastel coloured baby books and fancy recording the real experiences and emotions you felt as a frazzled new parent, Shannon Cullen’s I’m Wrecked, This is My Journal is a unique diary which will allow new parents to do just that.

I'm Wrecked, This Is My Journal by Shannon Cullen book front cover

Mother-of-two Shannon who is the publishing director for children’s books at Penguin Random House UK has created an entertaining and honest journal. She has a new baby as well as a toddler and aspires to wake up naturally – without the aid of children – one morning.

It’s a book for parents to record their own experiences – both the highs and the lows – and to chart the extraordinary transition to parenthood.

Shannon says “I created this journal for new parents who are looking for a bit of downtime, which probably amounts to about 96 seconds per day. I wanted to reflect my experience of parenting, which is that everything is a balancing act – balancing your baby with one hand and a glass of wine with the other.

But alongside the more frazzled moments, there are all the wonderful memories that you think you’ll remember forever, vastly underestimating sleep deprivation. My journal is intended as a playful way for parents to remember the ups and downs of their parenting adventure.”

Illustration from I'm Wrecked This Is My Journal: "What Song Is Number One This Week"?

The book is fully interactive with space alongside funny comments, quotes and activities for new parents to fill in, including pages to smudge your child’s fingerprints on, design parenting emojis and play baby bingo.

Inside you’ll find a wealth of fun ideas to do and doodle to take your mind off the fact that you’re probably knackered and don’t have a clue what you’re doing (at least I didn’t).

Illustration from I'm Wrecked This Is My Journal "List 5 Reasons Why You're A Good Parent"

For example, you can create your ideal playlist, do a dot-to-dot or challenge yourself to see how quickly you can get the baby into the babygrow.  Or how about this for a quote:-  “The quickest way for a parent to get a child’s attention is to sit down and look comfortable”.  Actually that one is STILL true almost 10 years later.

It’s a fun way to record how you were feeling in the precious early days and to keep and feel slightly smug later on when you realise how far you’ve come and how well you adjusted (because you will).

I’m Wrecked, This Is My Journal would make a great present for a new parent, parent-to-be or just to cheer yourself up when you are fighting sleep deprivation and feel that your life will never be fully under your control again.

Illustrations I'm Wrecked This Is My Journal "Smudge here the first solid food your baby ate"

Looking back on your experiences you’ll soon find that you’ve had more #parentingwins than #parentingfails even through the haze of sleep deprivation and pureed fruit.

I’m Wrecked, This Is My Journal is published by Michael O’Mara Books and available on Amazon.

If baby hasn’t arrived yet, why not check out the list of pregnancy books that got me through.

A New Lower Cost Fertility Technique To Rival IVF?

A new fertility technique has been proven to improve pregnancy rates at a much lower cost than IVF and with fewer hormone drugs.

Researchers from the University of Adelaide in South Australia in collaboration with the University of New South Wales in Sydney and UZ Brussel at Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Belgium (UVB) have developed a new method of in-vitro maturation (IVM) that uses growth factors to increase success rates.

Co-developer Jeremy Thompson said the new IVM cycle would be cheaper and safer than other popular methods such as in-vitro fertilisation (IVF) with a stronger success rate than current IVM models.

He said the improved method posed fewer side effects and would reduce treatment timelines.

Professor Thompson said.“In a normal IVF cycle it is necessary to enable a number of mature eggs that are collected at one surgical operation. IVM is a technique where we still have to recover the eggs but we can do it faster and with a lot less hormones – only about 10 per cent of the hormones that are used in a normal IVF cycle.

“In a normal IVF cycle, dependent on where you are in the world, the drugs cost about a third to half of the cost of the IVF cycle.”

Follicle stimulating hormones used in standard IVF cycles have been known to cause significant discomfort and can be harmful to women with a high sensitivity to them. This is often the case for women with polycystic ovarian syndrome.

Professor Thompson said the ability to harvest the eggs at an earlier stage allowed for a shorter time period before a patient was involved.

“This (new technique) results in a 50 per cent improvement in embryo yield compared to the standard IVM,” Prof Thompson said.

“It’s a significant improvement and it is very hard to make more and better quality embryo’s under any scenario.”

Professor Thompson said the method would also be highly beneficial for fertility preservation in cancer patients.

“Because IVM treatment requires virtually no hormones and is a far less truncated treatment, it is ideal to use with young women and girls that require their eggs to be harvested prior to chemotherapy or radiation treatment,” he said.

Professor Thompson said clinical trials for the enhanced IVM treatment were still being planned and would begin within the next few years.

Source: The Lead, South Australia