At 41 years old with six kids ranging in age from 1 to 22, Tami Tibbs Northey knows all about being pregnant. And she knows what it’s like to be pregnant as a young woman and a more seasoned one. Her last child, the only girl out of six, was born when Northey was 40.
Some aches and pains come with pregnancy. Northey says hers increased as she got older. Her first live birth was when she was 18 (she had a daughter at 16 who died right after birth).
“When you’re young, you don’t have the aches and pains,” she says. “I wouldn’t say I was healthier with my younger pregnancies. I’m always very healthy pregnant, but I think it’s mostly the age thing. Our bodies are old.”
Northey says she struggled to lose weight after some pregnancies and not as much after other pregnancies—no matter her age. She had more energy when she was younger, but being older and pregnant brought the challenge of taking care of her older children.
“Everybody thinks that because your kids are older they’re not as much work, which is wrong,” she says. “It’s exhausting. It really is. I just took the adage that basically my kids knew if mom was sleeping, you don’t wake the mama bear. They were very respectful of that if I was taking a nap.”
Another concern for pregnant women over 35 is the increased risk for complications. Northey says her doctor presented the risks to her during her last two pregnancies. At the same time, she had confidence to make her own decisions and assert herself. For example, Northey opted out of having an amniocentesis. She pressed to deliver her youngest two children (ages 2-1/2 and 1) vaginally, even though her fourth was a C-section delivery.
“Age and experience taught me to stand up for what I believed in and say no,” Northey says. “Every woman needs to empower herself to ask questions and be educated.”
When she was younger, Northey didn’t mind as much when people touched her pregnant belly. But, the older she got, the more she learned to stand up for herself.