HOW I GOT PREGNANT AFTER 40 NATURALLY
I'm grateful my husband and I didn't give up on my body. We believed our baby would arrive, even after four losses in 2021.
Basically, my doctor told me it would NOT happen for us without fertility treatments; she told me my body and my eggs couldn't do this because of my age.
In fact, she suggested using a donor egg.
Well, Pip (as I called her when she was in my belly—and what I will call her here on the blog) arrived Thanksgiving day, 2022, with the sweetest smile, about a month after I turned 42.
She was conceived naturally despite what my doctor told me.
Here are all the things I did to get pregnant after 40 naturally:
I advocatED FOR MYSELF, AND A THOROUGH CHECK
I am passionate about advocating for oneself in today's medical climate, especially in the journey to getting pregnant after 40 naturally.
You can’t go to a doctor and expect them to advocate for you as well as you would yourself.
If I had not been my own advocate, I might still be trying to conceive or have given up on naturally trying to conceive.
HOW TO ADVOCATE FOR YOUR PREGNANCY AFTER 40
- Do your research, and show up with a list of questions to ask.
- Speak up and ask for what you want; do not rely on any doctor to be as proactive as you will be.
- Do not be intimidated because they are experts; follow your gut (a woman's intuition is powerful!)
- You can and should ask for certain checks to investigate all the possible issues with your uterine cavity.
- Let your doctor know if you have a differing opinion than her.
- When in doubt, get a second OB's opinion.
My gut told me to request a polyp check the same day my OB told me my egg quality was poor because of my age and that I should pursue the IVF path instead.
I hadn’t had an ultrasound during all my pregnancy losses (they all happened before the first nine-week check).
So I requested an ultrasound that day she said my eggs were too old. We found a 1.5" polyp that needed removing.
We removed the polyp in an outpatient procedure later that month, and she also performed a D&C. I remember thinking about my friend from high school who told me she conceived her twins after a D&C.
I stayed hopeful.
We naturally conceived Pip my 2nd cycle after that procedure.
ASK YOUR obstetrician TO CHECK your uterus for:
- Endometriosis (this can be one of the top silent infertility reasons—some women don't realize they have it for years)
- Uterine septum (where the uterus starts to divide into two)
- Silent infections
- Any other concerns regarding your personal history
I JOINED THIS FACEBOOK GROUP, AND IT gave me community
I found the Pregnancy After Forty Private Group of 10,000+ women supporting each other through pregnancy after 40.
The number of success stories I read daily is astounding.
Plus, I also feel like the young one in the group. Women aged 45, 46, and up share their stories of conceiving both naturally and with fertility treatments.
I started visiting this group daily after our first miscarriage.
It quickly became my happy place, where many women like me normalized pregnancy after 40.
The effect this community had on my mental health was astonishing.
I switched to green & clean PERSONAL CARE and Home products
The reason behind changing to a clean and green product regime is that many of the ingredients and chemicals in today's mainstream personal care and home products can disrupt our hormones and endocrine systems. Yes, the products we buy can directly affect our reproductive systems.
CHEMICALS CAN HIDE IN THESE PERSONAL CARE PRODUCTS:
- Hair & nail products
- Makeup and skincare
- Perfumes and body sprays
- Scented lotions and oils
- Sunscreens and self-tanners
- Toothpaste and mouthwash
- And more
I checked the Environmental Working Group website to learn the scores of all the products I use.
I replaced all my products with low toxicity or EWG-verified products. I even stopped wearing nail polish. (This was hard for me, especially the toes!)
MY favorite clean beauty products
Did you know the fragrance in candles often contains harmful phthalates that are toxic to your reproductive health? I wrote a post about phthalate-free candles that won’t harm your health.
CHEMICALS CAN HIDE IN THESE HOME PRODUCTS:
- Cleaning products
- Laundry detergents and dryer sheets
- Anything scented (candles, air fresheners, scented wall plugs, other aerosols)
- Plastic containers (use glass containers instead, this includes your plastic k-cups!)
- Non-stick coatings on cookware
- Cheap mattresses, pillows, bedding, and furniture (all can off-gas flame retardants, formaldehyde, and other chemicals used in manufacturing)
- And more
EWG also includes a section of their site that shares cleaning product scores:
MY FAVORITE NON-TOXIC home PRODUCTS
I read a lot of BOOKS about fertility after 40
These are the two best books that helped me immeasurably. I don't recommend one over the other because they have different messages. Get them both and deep dive into each one.
I scaled back my crazy supplement regime
After my second loss, I decided my body needed supplementing. So I went a little crazy and took nearly ten supplements daily that some of my research recommended.
THE SUPPLEMENTS I WAS TAKING to boost FERTILITY:
- Prenatal vitamin
- Ubiquinol CoQ10
- Alpha lipoic acid
- Vitamin E
- Vitamin C
- Vitamin D
- Liquid B12
Based on articles I read, I convinced myself that I needed this complete suite of supplements and that it would only do me good.
I stuck with this regime and noticed after a month or two that I felt terrible.
I was tired, my digestion was slow, and I had gained ten pounds in a month. My intuition told me I was over-supplementing, and my body was trying to tell me to stop.
feeling crappy was not going to help me have a baby
Listen to your body and what it is telling you. Supplements are beneficial in many ways and can help us, but we can abuse them, take things we don't need, and overload our bodies.
The only two supplements I took PRE-CONCEPTION
I stopped drinking ALCOHOL while trying to conceive
Whatever all the studies say about drinking alcohol in moderation, I knew it wouldn't hurt to stop completely. I haven't had a drink since our wedding.
Giving up drinking felt like a small sacrifice if it helped me meet my baby.
I limited coffee (a hard one for me!)
I'm finally totally caffeine-free. This was one of the more challenging modifications I made.
I'd quit coffee while trying to conceive until I took a pregnancy test. I had no problems staying off of it if the test was positive.
But when I would have another miscarriage, I'd go back on it for a few weeks until it was time to try again. So I was inconsistent with eliminating it.
The latest research says it's fine in moderation; pregnant women can have up to 200 mg daily. In any case, I tried to limit it because, like alcohol, I figured it wouldn't hurt to cut it out of my diet.
Not to mention, I am extremely sensitive to caffeine; one cup and I'm "Turbo-Sarah," so it made me question what it could be doing to my hormones and reproductive system.
I gave up trying to be gluten-free and sugar-free
Both sugar and gluten are inflammatory, and I had been eating some of each during my first two losses.
I was willing to cut them out of my diet in hopes it would help. So I eliminated them simultaneously for almost two months.
At the end of the second month of no sugar or gluten, I had my third miscarriage.
Feeling defeated and rather hungry, I returned to eating my regular diet.
Not to say that cutting gluten and sugar might help you get pregnant after 40, but I felt restricted while eating this way, like I was always hungry and never satisfied.
I wanted to send my body a message of abundance, not restriction. I thought feeling constantly hungry would not help my body grow a healthy baby.
My regular diet is healthy, with minimally processed grains, tons of fruits and vegetables, lean protein, eggs, and dairy. I made it a point to eat salmon twice a week while trying to conceive because omega-3 is great for fertility.
But I also ate all my favorites when we conceived Pip, like:
- Toasted PB&J on sourdough bread
- Pasta with this amazing sauce
- Plenty of dark chocolate
- An occasional bowl of ice cream
80% of the time, I ate well, and 20% of the time, I indulged.
I improved my sleep quality
My 6'7" husband and I, plus our dog, were sleeping in a queen-sized bed. I remember waking several times each night because the bed was just not big enough for us.
We upgraded to a king. As a result, I immediately returned to sleeping solidly through the night. I also started to remember my dreams. My sleep quality improved so much by making this simple adjustment.
Sleep quality is hugely important on many levels (not just for fertility). So if you aren't sleeping well, try to find a way to sleep better!
You might not need a larger bed as we did, but there are many ways to improve your sleep.
Ways to improve your sleep quality
I remembered HOW TO RELAX AND RECHARGE
For a long time, I forgot how to relax and recharge. I stopped listening to what I needed to feel good. I was going at the pace of everyone around me all week and never stopping to catch my breath.
I went 100mph seven days a week. Then, I'd wake up on Monday morning, feel exhausted after a jam-packed weekend, and do it all over again.
This pace went on for a few years.
It's great to make the most out of every second of your life and have an "I'll sleep when I'm dead" philosophy. But I knew I had to slow down for fertility reasons. I felt too depleted trying to keep up with my schedule to grow a human.
Some people, like my husband, recharge by going, doing, sweating, road-tripping, exploring, and generally finding lots of stimulation.
I had forgotten that I recharge by doing the opposite: resting, quieting, staying home, and getting lots of sleep.
Throughout the year-long period I was miscarrying, I had been going at an overwhelming pace, never taking a day for myself, saying yes to everything, spreading myself thin, and making fatigue my standard.
I finally set a firm boundary around my schedule and told my loved ones I needed weekends to recharge, and I wouldn't be available to run around like I had been doing; I needed to rest.
It might sound woo-woo, but I needed to send a message to my future baby that my body was a welcoming, peaceful, low-stress, chill, and restful place to call home for nine months.
Determine what makes you feel relaxed and recharged, and ensure you're doing it. It's easy to get swept up at a pace that is not your own.
HAVE YOU FORGOTTEN HOW TO RELAX & RECHARGE?
- Do you feel rested on Monday mornings?
- Do you rely too much on caffeine to keep up with your schedule?
- Do you say yes to things you don't want to do?
- Do you have time for self-care?
- Do you make time for others but not for yourself?
- Do you feel there's no time for things you want to do?
- After a busy work week, what does an ideal weekend look like for you?
I STAYED POSITIVE
I had no trouble steering clear of statistics of getting pregnant naturally after 40. The only statistic I needed was that I had countless friends and acquaintances who were "poppin' past forty." If it could happen for them, it could happen for me, too.
My husband and I had zero tolerance for anything that might let fear or doubt creep in. So, I kept firm boundaries with friends who (with all good intentions) encouraged me to "stop wasting time, go do IVF!"
We created a "belief bubble" and spent time mentally preparing for our baby's arrival. We didn't talk about if she arrived; we talked about when. I gave her a name ("Pip!") so we could better talk to her, and call her forward.
Each miscarriage was hard to bounce back from emotionally, but my husband remained steadfast. Not for one second did he doubt my body or suggest going the IVF route. His confidence in my body helped me stay full of belief.
A dear sister-type friend (who is only two weeks younger than me) became pregnant naturally at 41. I focused on her journey, which strengthened my belief in mine.
I stayed in daily touch with her via voice memos and text. She shared so much about her pregnancy which helped me emotionally prepare for all the details of each trimester and labor and delivery.
Our daughters are now just six months apart in age.
HOW TO STAY POSITIVE ABOUT YOUR 40+ NATURAL PREGNANCY
- Stay away from Googling post-40 pregnancy statistics.
- Create firm boundaries with people who don't align with your plan.
- Don't stop believing it will happen; prepare for your baby's arrival.
- Make sure your significant other keeps positive too.
- Stay in regular touch with other women who are pregnant after 40.
I SURRENDERED TO GOD'S PLAN
I should have been my most hopeful after my polyp removal, but the fear of trying again and possibly experiencing another miscarriage brought me to a low point.
If I had another miscarriage, that would mean my fertility issue was beyond the polyp, and more testing, investigating, and doctors appts would start all over again.
Instead of staying stuck in that low point, I had an absolute all-in surrender to God.
I was in my car and cried while sitting in a parking lot.
I told Him that I authentically, with my whole heart, was OK with whatever His plan was.
If He wanted me to be a mother, or if He didn't want me to be a mother, I was 100% OK with either.
i promised to be authentically happy with whatever outcome.
Hitting that low point helped me reach the point where I felt at peace with whatever happened. Giving it to God to decide was the next step.
Pip's positive pregnancy test came one month after this total surrender.
I asked for prayers
My husband and I didn't open up about our struggle while miscarrying in 2021. I kept everything pretty close to my chest. I didn't want a pity party, or anyone's sadness or skepticism bursting our "belief bubble."
Also, I didn't want more opinions about going to a fertility specialist because I still believed my body could do this.
We have a remarkable church where people ask you directly how they can pray for you.
One day a woman named Deborah asked me. I burst into tears and blurted out, "fertility!" It felt like such a relief to ask for prayer.
Before long, we had a community of people praying for our baby.
I started asking for prayers at the end of 2021. We conceived February 2022!
A FEW More thoughts on getting pregnant after 40 naturally
LISTEN TO YOUR body
All I heard while I was going through my losses was that it was age-related/egg quality-related.
No one ever proactively checked my cavity until I requested it.
My gut always told me it wasn't my age or egg quality. I saw a pattern in all my losses; they happened around the same time. So I had such a strong instinct that something wasn't going right during implantation.
I believe the conversation for so many women needs to pivot from "advanced age and poor egg quality" to "does your uterus need more checking than the status quo?"
Whatever your instincts might tell you, listen to them! They are so often leading you to the root of the issue. You know your body better than anyone.
you know your body better than any0ne. listen to what it is telling you.
DON'T GIVE UP
I hope you can keep faith that your baby is on her way despite whatever fertility turmoil you've experienced.
It's easy for doctors to scare you and tell you this will never happen or give you some made-up micro percentage chance it will happen.
I hope you keep believing that your body can and will do this. I know how low the lows can feel and how this is sometimes easier said than done.
I clung to a story a friend told me while I was experiencing my miscarriages. She had her first child in her early 40s via IVF and a second child naturally a few years later.
I told her about my losses, and she told me she knew many women 40 and up who had been on the same journey. And she said every single one she knew got past it and went on to have a child. I needed to hear that at the time; it inspired me to keep going.
GIVING UP IS A DEFINITE WAY OF NEVER MEETING YOUR BABY.
I look back on the things that helped me through a long and dark year of loss. My gratitude is immeasurable to the people who helped me get to this point, the fertility books I read, the prayers that friends and family said for us, and the gut instincts that I listened to and followed.
I can only do it all justice by paying it forward.
Thanks for reading, and I pray something here might help you get pregnant after 40 naturally.
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