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03rd Apr 2022

Mum-of-7 reveals whether it’s easier to be a mother in your 20s, 30s or 40s

Laura Grainger

She gave birth for the first time at 23 and the last time at 41.

A mum-of-seven who has given birth in her 20s, 30s and 40s has revealed which age she found it easier to be a mother at.

46-year-old Jeanie Bastyan, from Cardiff, South Wales, became a mum to three children in her 20s, another three (including a set of twins) in her 30s and one last baby in her 40s.

In the Sun’s Fabulous magazine, the mum shared what labour and parenting during each life decade was like and at which age she found it easiest.

Jeanie and her husband Gavin had their first child, Michael, in 2000 when she was 23. Though she didn’t find this pregnancy and labour stressful, she says she found being a first-time mother “scary”.

“I struggled to breastfeed, and I wanted everything perfect – I fretted about every tumble and scratch,” she shares.

A year later in 2001, the couple welcomed their daughter Paige. This labour was a little more complicated as the epidural “temporarily froze my face and I briefly lost all sensation down one side of my body”, Jeanie says.

However, she found having two kids under two easier than expected as they were on the same schedule.

She soon had three under three at the age of 26 when the couple welcomed their son Ben, who she describes as “unexpected but very wanted”.

“I discovered getting three babies all changed clean, fed and ready to go at exactly the same time was almost impossible,” the mum notes. “I would get one ready and then straight away another would want a feed.”

Still, the couple decided to try for a fourth – but when nothing came of trying for two years, Jeanie visited a specialist who diagnosed her with endometriosis and told her cells from her womb were growing elsewhere.

“Scans showed my left ovary had also attached itself to the wall of my womb,” she says, adding that she had surgery to remove this and the endometriosis cells at the age of 32.

Though doctors thought conceiving would then be difficult for her, she was pregnant with twins within two months.

Aged 33, she welcomed twin daughters Ava and Emily via C-section. “I felt so unwell in the lead up to the birth and ended up with pre-eclampsia, high blood pressure and was in intensive care with shock.

“But I loved being a new mum again. For the first time I breastfed properly, which I loved,” she adds.

“Seven years on from my last, playgrounds were newer and more impressive. I also felt more confident and made my own food rather than relying on pre-packaged mixes.”

26 months later, Jeanie was surprised to find out she was pregnant on Tobie, who arrived by vaginal birth.

“Being a mum in my mid 30s was a world away from being a mum in my early 20s,” she reveals. “I was so much more confident, happy to ignore the well-meaning advice of others, and was more relaxed and easy-going about routines.

“The new babies had to fit around us – not the other way round. But I had changed too. I’d become far more chilled about motherhood. Whereas with my first I was so paranoid about everything – temperature, feeding and whether they were meeting their milestones – by my sixth I was so much more chilled.”

At the age of 40, the mum again felt “that familiar yearning and really wanted just one more”. She was 41 when she and Gavin welcomed their last child, daughter Ettie, in 2017.

“From the moment she was born she was a very easy baby. She’s smothered in love by her other brothers and sisters and we joke she has multiple dads and mums,” Jeanie shares.

So, at which age did she find welcoming a new child to parent the easiest?

“When people ask me the easiest age to be a mum, I say 36,” she says. “I recovered quickest from my vaginal births and was treated differently at different ages by medical staff.

“At 23 when I had my first child, midwives gave me conflicting advice and I felt like a deer in the headlights. In my 30s people were more respectful because my chart showed I had had three children already.

“By my 40s I was reminded about the dangers of having a baby in later life.”

Unlike parenting though, labour doesn’t get easier with age, in Jeanie’s experience.

“Ettie at 41 was quickest but the birth was super fast and I felt a little out of control. In my 30s having twins via c-section was the scariest and in my 20s having my first was easy because of the labour being just over three hours.

“When it comes to giving birth it doesn’t matter how many kids you have, each birth is unique. But either way having a huge family is wonderful – we’re all so close and I’d never regret it,” she finishes.