Emotional Health

Older mum’s are usually more settled in life both financially and emotionally.  An Australian study showed that older women are more psychologically prepared for pregnancy, able to deal with the stress of parenthood and were less likely to experience depression compared to younger mothers.

Dr Julia Berryman of the University of Leicester Parenthood Research Group says that being an older parent can hail a new lease of life. Research found that 90% of the older mothers surveyed said they thought it had given them more energy and zest for life.

However being an older mum can be an emotional juggling act if you also have younger children, a career and older parents to look after. Anxiety levels might be higher during pregnancy and birth especially if the baby has been long awaited for, there have been previous miscarriages, or assisted conception like IVF. The older you are the more you tend to know and educate yourself which could provoke anxiety if you start worrying about all the risks of pregnancy and birth.

Older mothers are often more confident and relaxed than they probably were in their twenties.  Research shows that they are calmer when coping with the many challenging situations of parenting.  Having acquired more life experience brings maturity and wisdom that translates well to mothering skills.  Older women tend to invest more time in their children benefiting their development on every level. Studies show that late parents are often more loving, tolerant, patient and kind mainly because the child is very, very wanted.

Older women are more likely to be involved in a stable relationship. Being in a stable relationship or marriage helps balance the parenting workload.  Those women who aren’t in relationships tend to have a solid support network of friends and family.  However one study found that older mums are less likely to live near family or other friends with children and are therefore more at risk from feeling isolated.  To help build up a local support network meet other mums at antenatal classes or mother and baby groups. Becoming a ‘parent blogger’ can also be a great way of sharing your experiences and meeting lots of like minded mums over the internet, and on social media.

US research concluded that older women are both mentally and physically just as capable of being effective mothers as their younger counterparts.  The research was carried out by the University of Southern California (USC) on 150 women in their 30’s, 40’s and 50’s who had fertility treatment between 1992 and 2004. The women were given surveys to measure their physical and mental functioning and parental stress.

The scientists found that they did not have higher stress levels or health risks than younger mothers.  However many of the women, as is often the case with older mums, had younger partners which may have benefited their ability to cope.  Even though the study was small the researchers said their findings should challenge current thinking that older women should be excluded from IVF programmes on account of their age.