It seems as if we hear news stories all of the time about celebrities becoming first-time mothers after the age of 40, right alongside stories about how hard it is to have a baby after reaching that milestone. I had my first child at age 34, closely followed by two more children before turning 37. But knowing how much I loved being a mom, coupled with the knowledge in our hearts that our family was not yet complete, led us to adding three more children to our family through adoption… all after the age of 40.

Parenting young children in your 40s, tweens and teens in your 50s, and supporting college-aged kids in your 60s does indeed add another dimension to the challenges of parenting, so why are so many women approaching motherhood for the first time after age 40?

First, the Facts. Are More Women Having Babies After Age 40?

Yes they are. According to an April 2010 report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, birth rates in 2008 dropped among women in their teens, twenties, and thirties. But the 40-to-44 age bracket as well as the over-45 age group each saw a 4% increase in birth rate. The reports also found that women over 40 were also more likely to be first-time mothers than in the past.

Women Over 40 Often Have Reached a New State of Personal Readiness

Women over 40 tend to feel more confident and secure about becoming mothers than do younger women. Having used their 20s and 30s for personal growth and self discovery, they are ready to devote themselves to children. And women over 40 tend to feel better equipped financially to bring a child into their family while still maintaining their current lifestyle and continuing to fund their own savings and retirement plans.

New Avenues to Motherhood Have Been Opened

There have certainly been many technological advancements in reproductive medicine, and this, coupled with a longer life expectancy for women, makes 40 seem less like, well, 40! Today there are also many new possibilities to become a mother through adoption, both with partners and as single women.

But Are There Challenges in Parenting After 40?

Well, let's be honest here… there are challenges in parenting no matter what age you begin this journey! Many people worry that they may not have enough energy to "chase a toddler" or have been out of school for so long that there is no way that they will be able to assist their school-aged child with homework. These are valid concerns… but there is certainly an offset to these challenges by embracing the wisdom gained by the age of 40 and the greater likelihood of personal financial security.

Not to mention, there were great career and personal opportunities that I enjoyed in my 20s and early 30s that I would have missed out on if I had started on my path to motherhood earlier. These things shaped the woman and the mother than I have become in my 40s. So while there may be some challenges, I feel that they are outweighed by the strengths that I now bring to my "mommy game."

Finding Support for Your Decision to Parent After 40

Finding support for your decision to begin parenting after age 40 can be challenging. Family and friends may not readily cheer on your decision to begin this new journey. And you may find yourself looking to connect with other women seeking options to parenthood.

FlowerPowerMom.com is a website that attempts to share"The Truth About Motherhood After 40" featuring real mom stories, expert advice, and an online community to empower all women on the journey of motherhood after 40. The site has an "Ask Our Expert" educational forum on midlife motherhood — from fertility, ART, pregnancy, birth or adoption, to parenting after 40.

And really, it is just a great place to connect with other women who are in the same point in their life as you. I personally loved this comment that I found from reader Jennifer:

"I had my first daughter at 40 and second at 42 so I like the idea that I might have both a mother's heart and grandmother's wisdom! (Though there are days when I seem to have a mother's job and a grandmother's energy...)"