Whether your career has kept you busy or you chose to hold off on children during your 20s and 30s, having a baby in your 40s can be an equally rewarding experience. While you might run into a few age-related stumbling blocks when you begin breastfeeding the new addition to your family, a little knowledge and planning will help ensure you can enjoy bonding with and nurturing your baby.
When a woman has a baby in her 20s, she often has enough energy to manage a number of sleepless nights. A new mother in her 40s has a somewhat slower metabolism and might not feel revitalized after a few broken hours of sleep each night. Rest is a vital component to producing a good milk supply. If you're taking on the responsibility of all the nighttime feedings, try to compensate for the reduction in sleep during the day by napping when your baby naps. When you can't nap, rest your body through yoga, breathing exercises or even a bubble bath. To ensure the best night's sleep possible, keep your caffeine intake to a minimum and don't go to bed with a full stomach.
A nutritious diet is necessary to maintain an adequate supply of milk. In addition to keeping track of the vitamins and nutrients you consume, you'll also have to maintain an increase of as much as 400 to 500 calories above your pre-pregnancy diet, explains the Wisconsin Women's Health Foundation. At first you might worry about those increased calories heading straight for your hips; a woman in her 20s has a high metabolism, whereas it has generally begun to slow down during the 30s and 40s, making it more difficult to lose excess weight. But your body requires those extra calories to produce an adequate milk supply and breastfeeding your baby even has a secret little perk. Nursing burns extra calories, helping to shed the pregnancy pounds that were easier to take off 20 years ago.
It might feel strange to think about menopause so soon after having a baby, but perimenopausal symptoms can begin anywhere from a few months to 10 years before menopause. Symptoms can include breast and nipple soreness -- generally midway through your menstrual cycle and in the week before menstruating -- irritability just before menstruation and exhaustion. If these symptoms interfere with your ability to breastfeed comfortably, your health care provider may suggest vitamin supplements, herbal therapy, acupuncture or changes in your diet.
The sudden shift in lifestyle can be shocking, and even more so when you are breastfeeding your infant who requires feedings on demand -- whether you're due in a board meeting or out with friends. Your baby now controls your daily schedule and it can be difficult to make such dramatic adjustments. Find a local breastfeeding support group for women in their 40s to share your experience with others in a similar situation.