Welcome back to How I Parent, where we get a glimpse into how the nation is raising their kids.
This week we’re speaking with Lucy Baker, from Lincolnshire, who is on a mission to reclaim the term ‘geriatric mother’, after having her third child at the age of 42.
While the NHS no longer uses the term ‘geriatric mother’ to describe mums over 35, it hasn’t disappeared. Expectant mums might hear the phrase banded about in hospitals, or see it in their notes, and it’s often still used by those not in the medical profession.
After coming across so much judgement regarding her age when she was pregnant, Lucy has launched a blog titled, ‘Geriatric Mum Blog’ which she says has ‘connected people, helped them be understood and enabled women to feel good about their age.’
Speaking to Metro.co.uk, Lucy explains how she and her husband, Dan, 39, were delighted to be expecting their third child – but after sharing the news, they weren’t always met with enthusiasm.
‘When I found out I was pregnant, I noticed the midwife wrote down “older mum,” in my notes,’ she explains. ‘Doctors and medical professionals began referring to me as being of ‘advanced maternal age’.
‘Then, I went online and all I could see was “Risk! Risk! Risk!” and the term “geriatric” everywhere.’
‘People, including friends, began to ask me, “Was it an accident?” or “Did you need to use IVF?” as if it was a negative that I was pregnant, or that I was perhaps being selfish,’ she shares.
‘As the pregnancy continued comments came in from school mums who would say, “I thought you’d given up nappies?” and “Haven’t you just got your life back?”
‘I was shocked that anyone could say these sorts of things. I mainly laughed them off but the words did stick a bit.’
Lucy shares that one of the particularly bad comments came from a travel consultant when she went to book a holiday.
‘She asked me if it was a mistake so I shot back, “Why on earth are you asking?”
‘Needless to say, I decided not to book the holiday with her after that.’
Above the age of 35, according to data by baby charity Tommy’s, mums can experience high blood pressure, diabetes, placental problems and birth complications.
But despite this, the conception rate for the over-40 age group has now more than doubled since 1990 and has been steadily increasing year upon year.
Lucy says, ‘I began to read about all the awful things that can happen if you are seemingly a geriatric mum, and I felt like there was nothing positive, no one was sharing the good stuff or the other side of the story.’
So, at four months pregnant, Lucy decided to start a blog, Geriatric Mum Blog, an online community to help other mums who may have been experiencing similar reactions. The support was instantaneous.
‘I met many other mums online going through the same thing of being called a geriatric mum. But some of their reasons were different. Some had got married and that relationship had sadly broken down. Or it took a while to meet someone new so they were having a baby later.
‘There could be many other reasons; ill health, cancer, or even losing their partner. People don’t think of the bigger picture and shouldn’t judge others.’
Yet despite the success of the blog, Lucy says that others couldn’t stop doing calculations on her.
‘Others would do mental mathematics on where I’d be in life, depending on my age.
‘They would say, “Do you know old you’ll be when the baby goes to university?” which was being highlighted while I was still pregnant.’
Lucy notes that being pregnant can already be a worrying time and people’s opinions can heighten that anxiety.
‘When women are pregnant there are already other negative comments about our bodies, for example.
‘There are plenty of mums having babies later, and it’s a choice,’ she says.
Ultimately, Lucy believes that creating her blog connecting with mums all over the U.K has been really beneficial.
‘I started meetups and lots of women started connecting.
‘A group of women in Kent still meet up regularly, at least five times a year. I introduced these women to each other back in 2019.
‘It warms my heart that some of the women found their besties through my group.’
Lucy parents her three children Nancy 13, Ivy 10, and Rocky 4 according to their needs and says she doesn’t have a particular rule book when it comes to parenting.
‘I pivot to suit what works for my children. I talk to my children and work with them on their level. I parent two of my children very differently from the other one. And it works!’
‘My approach is all about communication. I don’t, and never have, read parenting books. I listen to my intuition and follow what I believe to be right for my children based on their needs.’
Despite the comments and reactions about her being an older mum, Lucy says she’s focused on enjoying her life.
‘I had my son at 43. I am truly loving being an older mum and feel more confident in myself than ever before.’
‘There are many positives to having a baby in my 40’s. I feel I look after myself a lot now, exercising, sleeping and making time for self-care. I also feel that I have more clarity and confidence, which really helps.’
‘I am now 47 with a little boy who starts school in September. I am proud of us and hope that I have shown other parents that 40 plus isn’t old – and it certainly isn’t geriatric.’
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