There are more than a few myths and misconceptions when it comes to the topic of infertility. The Office on Women’s Health at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services cites statistics that one in every ten couples aged 15-44 has trouble conceiving. And it’s no secret that the older you get, the harder it becomes to naturally conceive (about a third of couples that include a woman over 35 have a problem with fertility). Yet the challenges that can go along with trying to conceive and have children at an older age are often obscured by the number of celebrities who give birth after 40—which can, in turn, perpetuate a belief that it’s easy to get pregnant later in life.
Ahead, we’ve highlighted 30 celebrity mothers who welcomed children in their 40s—some of whom have been candid in how they got there, others who have remained quiet. From countless cycles of IVF, to surrogacy, to just pure luck—here’s some of our favorite A-listers who became proud moms, post-40.
This article originally appeared on Harper’s Bazaar US.
Julianne Moore gave birth to son Caleb in her late 30s. Her daughter Liv was born five years later, in 2002, when the actress was 41. In a recent interview with The Daily Telegraph, the Still Alice star says she and husband, film director Bart Freundlich, keep their two (now teenage) children grounded. “They live a regular life,” she says
The mother of two boys, Sasha and Kai, whom she had at 39 and 40, respectively, Naomi Watts told People that she wished she and then partner Liev Schreiber had more children. “I should have had more kids, started younger,” Watts said in the magazine’s October 2014 issue.
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The A-list actress welcomed her first child Nahla at age 41, then gave birth to her younger son Maceo when she was 47. In an interview with Ellen DeGeneres, Berry revealed that her second pregnancy in her late 40s (which she explained to be a “geriatric pregnancy“), was a total surprise. “I was, you know, on my way…this is probably way TMI, but I was really, you know, kinda premenopausal so to have this happen was a huge [shock],” she explained on The Ellen DeGeneres Show.
Sarandon gave birth to her first child, daughter Eva Amurri in 1985, with Sarandon’s then-boyfriend, Italian filmmaker Franco Amurri. A few years later Sarandon had two more children, sons Jack and Miles, with then-partner Tim Robbins, at 42 and 45, respectively.
When discussing her decision to have children later in life with Time Out New York, Sarandon said, “I wasn’t in a hurry, but I actually had a medical condition and was told I could never be a mother.” Of her pregnancies after being diagnosed with endometriosis, Sarandon explained: “It was just such a freak [thing] that I got pregnant that I thought I can’t ignore this. And so I jumped.”
Christie Brinkley gave birth to her third child, daughter Sailor Lee, in 1998 when the model was 44 years old. Brinkley revealed that she and husband Peter Cook went through various miscarriages before they were able to get pregnant with Sailor, using IVF.
Pop Sugar reported that Brinkley revealed her pregnancy struggles in a 1998 interview with Good Housekeeping. “After the first miscarriage, I tried to take the attitude that it was my body’s way of telling me that this pregnancy wasn’t meant to be,” she explained. “But after the second one, it was really devastating. Four months is a lot of living with that little life in you—thinking about it, eating right for it, nurturing it and all of a sudden, it dies. After the second one, we decided to try in vitro, because both Peter and I felt we couldn’t handle another failure.”
The Big Little Lies star has been very candid about her struggles with infertility. The actress has been married twice, previously to Tom Cruise and currently to Keith Urban. Early in her marriage with Cruise in her twenties,, which led to the couple’s decision to adopt their two children, Isabella and Connor. at the end of her marriage to Cruise.
When Kidman married Urban she thought she’d be unable to conceive naturally, but gave birth to her biological daughter, Sunday Rose, in 2008, when the Australian actress was 41 years old. Kidman has never discussed whether or not she used IVF to become pregnant, but in a 2012 interview with Australian magazine Who, reported by The List, she explained, “I’ve done all the stuff you can possibly do to try to get pregnant. So, the way it just happened with Sunday was like, ‘What?’ The percentages were so low. It is the miracle in my life.”
Three years later, Kidman and Urban welcomed their second biological child, Faith Margaret, via surrogate. Despite a tumultuous pregnancy journey and four children, The Sunreported that Kidman said she would still love to have more children.
Brooke Shields and husband Chris Henchy had their second daughter, Grier, in 2006, when the star was 40. In the years prior to Grier’s birth, Fertility Today reported that Shields and Henchy had immense difficulty conceiving; they tried multiple attempts of fertility treatments and rounds of IVF, with no success.
“I was about ready to call it quits,” Shields revealed. “I was growing weary of the anticipation and the pressure, and Chris said he wasn’t sure he could handle seeing me rip off another estrogen patch in frustration… At wit’s end, we decided to try one more time,” she recalls. After that final round of IVF, Shields became pregnant. She has been a spokesperson for Fertility Lifelines, a resource that provides information and support to women struggling with infertility.
The Oscar-winning actress has four children, the youngest of which she gave birth to in 1991, just before she turned 42. Streep has seemingly never gone on the record discussing her pregnancies publicly, so it’s unknown whether or not she struggled conceiving in her 40s, or before then.
“I thought I was going to need help getting pregnant, and I didn’t,” Salma Hayek told WebMD after she gave birth to daughter, Valentina, when the actress was 41 years old. In the 2009 interview, WebMD reported that Hayek’s pregnancy was complicated by gestational diabetes, but despite a nauseous nine months, she said wouldn’t trade the timing of her pregnancy: “I’m a more fulfilled human being now, and I probably wouldn’t have been 10 years ago. She gets a better mother for being born now.”
The actress was 40 years old when she and husband, Paul Bettany, welcomed their third child, daughter Agnes Lark. Connelly told Allure she wanted to be done with pregnancies after Agnes, “I knew that we were going to be done after number three,” she told Allure in February 2014. “That’s enough for us.”
In 2013, Rachel Zoe was 42 years old when she announced that she and husband Rodger Berman were pregnant with their second child, Kaius. In a 2013 interview with She Knows, Zoe revealed that her first son Skyler, who Zoe had when she was 39, was unplanned.
“It just happened,” she said. “It was the best thing that has ever happened to me and Rodger unquestionably, and we just stare at him and love him more every second of the day, if that is even possible.”
Before Kaius, Zoe explained that she was unsure if she would be able to get pregnant again. “If we are lucky enough to have another one, we will have another one,” she explained to She Knows. “I think we are so blessed with Sky and [if] that is all we are supposed to have, then that is OK too.”
At 42 years old, after multiple failed cycles of IVF, Celine Dion gave birth to twin boys, Eddy and Nelson. The Grammy-winning musician struggled for six years to conceive, before enlisting the help of a fertility specialist and finally giving birth to her eldest son, René Charles, in her early 30s.
On trying to conceive again in her 40s, Dion told Good Morning America she wasn’t ready to give up. “It’s priceless,” she said. “So, you know what? We had a miscarriage. We tried [IVF] three more times. It did not work. … We are trying again for the fifth try. It’s aboard right now. All aboard,” Dion said.
Eva Mendes became a first-time mom at the age of 40, when she and Ryan Gosling welcomed daughter, Esmeralda. Two years later Mendes became pregnant with their second daughter, Amada. In a 2014 article with The Violet Files, the actress explained how motherhood completely challenged her. “I’m completely exhausted,” she explained. “I thought my wild nights were over but these are some of the wildest nights I’ve ever had.”
Kim Basinger and then-husband Alec Baldwin had their only child, daughter Ireland, in 1995, when Basinger was 41 years old. The couple filed for divorce just over five years later.
According to Us Weekly, in 2014 Gwen Stefani told Seth Myers that she thinks of her youngest son Apollo as a “miracle” baby, as she was 44 years old when she and then-husband Gavin Rossdale welcomed him to their family. In a 2015 interview with InStyle, Stefani revealed that the experience of getting pregnant in her mid-40s put her in “a whole new spiritual place.”
Iman gave birth to her first daughter, Zulekha, when she was in her twenties and married to NBA star Spencer Haywood. Almost a quarter of a century later, Iman married the late David Bowie and became pregnant again, this time at the age of 45. Her second daughter, Alexandria, was a “miracle” for Iman and Bowie. “People talk about the miracle of birth,” Iman said in a 2009 interview with Parade following her pregnancy. “No. There’s the miracle of conception. I did IVF, but nothing happened. So, I began to think of adoption, and then I got pregnant. It was definitely a miracle.”
Madonna had her second biological child, son Rocco, when she was 42 years old, after having given birth to her daughter Lourdes in her late 30s. Madonna has welcomed four adopted children into her family in addition to Lourdes and Rocco, bringing her to a total of six kids.
In 2016, Janet Jackson announced that she was pregnant at the age of 50. The singer has kept the details of her pregnancy private, but whatever the means, Jackson gave birth to a healthy son Eissa, and is currently taking on motherhood in her 50s.
The Oscar-winning actress gave birth to all three of her children after turning 40. Her daughter Alizeh was born in 2002, when Davis was 46 years old. She gave birth to twin boys, Kian and Kaiis, two years later.
Of giving birth in her 40s, Davis told Good Housekeeping in a 2006 interview, “I felt 100 percent that I would be such a better parent than I would have been even five years earlier and certainly 10 or 20 years earlier,” she explained. “I’m sure there are younger people who have figured things out long before I did, but in my case, I became a parent with exactly the right person, at exactly the right time.”
The Golden Globe-winning comedian and actress was 41 when she found out she was pregnant with her second child, Penelope, in 2011. People reported that Fey’s attempt to have another child in her 40s was a conscious decision made by her and husband, Jeff Richman. “My husband and I really decided that we felt rather than risk having 30 Rock end in several years and feeling like part of our family is missing that we were going to prioritize our family,” the Bossypants author explained at the time.
Molly Ringwald and husband, Panio Gianopoulos, welcomed twins Adele and Roman in 2009, when the actress was 41. Ringwald had previously given birth to daughter, Mathilda, in 2003, but as Ringwald told People, the second attempt at pregnancy was a bit more difficult. “After Mathilda was born, I had some things fixed”—surgery to remove fibroids—“that made it easier to get pregnant again,” she explained. “There were some other issues, too. But I was so, so lucky to be 41 and to be so healthy during this pregnancy.”
After keeping her pregnancy under wraps, Laura Linney and husband Marc Schauer welcomed their first baby in 2014, when Linney was 49 years old. Us Weekly reported the birth, noting that Linney never addressed her pregnancy publicly and was never photographed with a baby bump, so, it’s unclear whether the actress conceived naturally herself or via alternative means, such as a surrogate.
When Milano was 41, she and husband David Bugliari welcomed their second child, daughter Elizabella. In the months before Milano’s pregnancy announcement in 2014, a source told Us Weekly that the couple was trying everything to get pregnant. “We are actively trying,” Milano confirmed on Access Hollywood. “There are very natural moments. It’s not like we’re machines or biological experiments. We’re very attracted to each other.” On pregnancy in her 40s, the actress said she was up for it. “I loved waiting a long time to be a mom,” she explained to Us Weekly. “I’d had my ladies’ lunches and my shopping days.”
The Mad About You actress was 40 when she gave birth to daughter Makena Lei in 2003. Hunt talked about her struggles with infertility to Ladies’ Home Journal in 2008, reported by Pop Sugar: “It turned out to be tougher to get pregnant than I thought it would be,” she revealed.
“I tried for a long time, and it just didn’t happen, to the point where getting pregnant became the greatest wish—and the greatest challenge—of my life. My fate wasn’t to jump into the backseat of a car and have a baby. My boyfriend and I were on our last big try, and if the baby hadn’t come, we would have adopted. But then I did get pregnant in 2003.”
Mary Stuart Masterson and husband, actor Jeremy Davidson, gave birth to their first child when Masterson was 43. Just 17 months later the couple announced they were pregnant with twins, when she was 44. When she was pregnant with her twins, Masterson told People: “We are four months along, so balancing career and family is becoming increasingly challenging for me…and in five months we are going to have three kids under the age of 2,” she said. “We are in happy shock about it.”
The First Wives Club actress was in her early forties when she had her first child, Eulala Grace, with husband Thaddaeus Scheel. Then just a few years later, she gave birth to twins, Hudson and Julitta Dee.
In 2001, Beverly D’Angelo gave birth to twins Anton and Olivia with husband Al Pacino. Though rapidly approaching 50, D’Angelo and Pacino say they were able to conceive using IVF. People reported that D’Angelo was nervous because of her age and was very uncomfortable at the end of her pregnancy, but ultimately gave birth to two healthy babies.
The 30 Rock actress was 42 when she and her then-fiancé, clothing designer Robert Godley, welcomed their first child, son Bennett.
The Chicago Tribune reported that Annette Bening has had four children with husband Warren Beatty, the youngest of which was welcomed to the family in 2000, when Bening was 42.