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Brooke Shields had one at 40. Courteney Cox Arquette was two days from the big 4-0 when she had hers. Marcia Cross and Marcia Gay Harden were 44. Geena Davis was 45 and 48. Holly Hunter was 47. Salma Hayek is 41, and so is Halle Berry — the latest star to join this long and populated list of over-40 mothers. After years of rumors and public declarations of her maternal desires, the Oscar-winning beauty confirmed Tuesday that she was, in fact, expecting her first child with her 31-year-old model boyfriend Gabriel Aubry, at the ripe ol’ — or is it young? — age of 41.

In the past few years, Hollywood actresses have been seemingly turning back the clock and getting pregnant closer to — and over — 40, the landmark age once deemed too old for children. So what gives? Is 40 really the new 30? Definitely, Sarah Michaud, Celebrity Baby Blog news editor, tells OK!. I think it’s part of the nationwide trend to delay marriage and, in effect, childbearing,” she says. “We’re seeing many more announcements from 35 to 45-year-old celeb moms-to-be than we are from 20 to 35 year olds. Also, we’re noticing many celebs are content with being married or engaged for longer periods of time before bringing children into the mix.”

And in many celeb moms’ cases, they were also content chasing their career goals, which, of course, means no diaper duty just yet. Needless to say, having kids during the prime of your career in showbiz is frowned upon. Some, such as Courteney and new mom Jenna Elfman — who turns 36 on Sept. 30 — have admitted to putting their livelihood first. “Many of these celebrities have been so focused on getting their career off the ground or keeping themselves in demand that they often place it above other wants they have, such as having children,” Sarah says. “Then they realize they don’t have much time remaining and get pregnant or begin treatments.”

Not that there’s anything wrong with career advancement. It is the 21st century after all. “Who could blame a gal for preferring to win an Academy Award over being elbow-deep in poopy Huggies?” Marcie Jones Brennan, author of Great Expectations: Baby’s First Year, tells OK!.

True, Halle can call herself the first African-American to win a Best Actress Oscar. All of the career focus and, hopefully, success pay off because “with older celebrity moms, they’re very often the main breadwinner of the relationship.” Salma’s fiancé, Yves-Saint Laurent owner and billionaire Francois-Henri Pinault, might have something to say about that.

While it may predominately be work, work, work early on, that doesn’t mean these older mamas aren’t thinking about reproducing. Desperate Housewife Marcia, who welcomed twins Eden and Savannah in February, has wanted to be part of that “club” for, well, ages. She conceived her girls via in vitro fertilization and has been outspoken about her over-40 fertility issues. What I didn’t want to do was put out the myth that you can be in your forties and just pop out kids,” she said.

Natural fertility rates decline after the age of 35, Robin Elise Weiss, from About.com’s Pregnancy Guide, tells OK!. “A woman who is 40 has about a five percent chance of conceiving in any given month. Even with IVF, that rate is about 10 percent because of the higher rate of abnormality in the eggs.” Unlike Marcia, some over-40 moms have not discussed whether or not they sought treatments. But regardless of medical intervention, more and more of them are getting knocked up, which may give the public false hope of conceiving later in life. “It gives people the idea that they can focus on career first, then start a family once they are established,” Sarah says. “But this glosses over the need for fertility treatments that many older mothers have.”

No, it sure isn’t easy getting pregnant later — miscarriage is more common, prenatal vitamins are more necessary and that glass of milk you’ve been avoiding? Drink it. You need the extra calcium because there isn’t any in the prenatal vitamins, Marcie says.

But it is all worth it in the end — a healthy baby, a new beginning and delayed gratification that you’re prepared for. Or are you? Many older celeb moms like Brooke, who was infamously vocal about her fertility issues with Rowan, 4, say they’re more ready and better appreciate everything older and wiser. No one is ever ready, Marcie says, but Sarah believes age is just a number. “Everyone has an opinion on what it means to be an ‘older’ mom,” she tells OK!. “But I agree with it. It’s the quality of the parenting, and an older parent has the maturity, wisdom and life experience to be an excellent parent able to focus on the child since they have had 20-odd years to get to know themselves.”

By Joyce Eng

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