After four boys, 54-year-old Brigitte Nielsen is now a mama to a baby girl.

The actress and reality TV star welcomed her first daughter on June 22 with her husband Mattia Dessi.

"We are overjoyed to welcome our beautiful daughter into our lives," the couple told PEOPLE. "It's been a long road, and so worth it. We've never been more in love."

The couple chose the name Frida for their daughter, who came into the world weighing 5 pounds, 9 ounces.

The announcement

Nielsen's other children are decades older than Frida. Her oldest son, Julian Winding, is 34. Her other three sons—Raoul Meyer Jr., Douglas Meyer, and Killian Gastineau—are all in their twenties.

Nielsen announced her pregnancy in late May via an Instagram post, sparking a flurry of headlines about her age. At 54, Nielsen is certainly older than most new moms, but it's not like she's the only woman to have a baby in her fifties.

Other high-profile moms to welcome babies after their fiftieth birthday include Senator Tammy Duckworth and Janet Jackson.

It's not easy

That's not to say having a baby after 50 is easy. Duckworth and Jackson have both reportedly used IVF technology, and while Nielsen hasn't publicly discussed the particulars of Frida's conception, back in 2008 she told Hello! magazine that she and Dessi were considering IVF. Back in 2008, Nielsen (then 44) would have been approaching the cut off age for many IVF clinics, but times have changed.

The Chicago Tribune reports that "many IVF clinics once refused to treat women over 45, but today that number is more typically set at 55." Dr. Helen Kim, chief of Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility at the University of Chicago, told the Tribune she's seen a change in recent years in how older mothers are viewed within her profession.

"People are saying, well, people are living longer now, women are healthier now," Kim explained. "There's no evidence that someone who's 50 is any less healthy than someone who's 44, and I think that's another reason that there's an increase is that doctors are willing to do it."

Media messages

Kim notes that positive media portrayal of older mothers are great, but cautions that "people don't realize how rare it is and probably that they used an egg donor. I think many of these celebrities have used egg donors, and they just don't come forward with that, and it gives people a false impression. It sort of makes you feel like maybe you can have it all, but there is still a biological clock."

Her comments echo the findings of a recent study by New York University's School of Medicine. It determined the way the media covers Hollywood pregnancies may be misleading people about how easy it is to get pregnant after 40.

Birth rates for older moms are rising

Still, figures from the U.K. show that the over 40 demographic is the only age group experiencing a rise in pregnancy rates, and it's the same in the U.S. Birth rates have declined for women aged 15–39 from 2016 to 2017 but rose for women aged 40–44, according to the CDC.

At 54, Nielsen is statistically off the motherhood charts, as the CDC includes moms over 50 in the birth rates for women aged 45–49. The number of births to women 45 and older rose 3% from 2016 to 2017.

Nielsen is older than most mothers, but her journey reminds us that how and when a woman experiences motherhood is for her to judge. Some women embrace the journey in their 20s, while others are in their 30s, 40s or, like Nielsen, even older. We mamas may have been born in different decades, but we can all support each other.

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When I was expecting my first child, I wanted to know everything that could possibly be in store for his first year.

I quizzed my own mom and the friends who ventured into motherhood before I did. I absorbed parenting books and articles like a sponge. I signed up for classes on childbirth, breastfeeding and even baby-led weaning. My philosophy? The more I knew, the better.

Yet, despite my best efforts, I didn't know it all. Not by a long shot. Instead, my firstborn, my husband and I had to figure it out together—day by day, challenge by challenge, triumph by triumph.


The funny thing is that although I wanted to know it all, the surprises—those moments that were unique to us—were what made that first year so beautiful.

Of course, my research provided a helpful outline as I graduated from never having changed a diaper to conquering the newborn haze, my return to work, the milestones and the challenges. But while I did need much of that tactical knowledge, I also learned the value of following my baby's lead and trusting my gut.

I realized the importance of advice from fellow mamas, too. I vividly remember a conversation with a friend who had her first child shortly before I welcomed mine. My friend, who had already returned to work after maternity leave, encouraged me to be patient when introducing a bottle and to help my son get comfortable with taking that bottle from someone else.

Yes, from a logistical standpoint, that's great advice for any working mama. But I also took an incredibly important point from this conversation: This was less about the act of bottle-feeding itself, and more about what it represented for my peace of mind when I was away from my son.

This fellow mama encouraged me to honor my emotions and give myself permission to do what was best for my family—and that really set the tone for my whole approach to parenting. Because honestly, that was just the first of many big transitions during that first year, and each of them came with their own set of mixed emotions.

I felt proud and also strangely nostalgic as my baby seamlessly graduated to a sippy bottle.

I felt my baby's teething pain along with him and also felt confident that we could get through it with the right tools.

I felt relieved as my baby learned to self-soothe by finding his own pacifier and also sad to realize how quickly he was becoming his own person.

As I look back on everything now, some four years and two more kids later, I can't remember the exact day my son crawled, the project I tackled on my first day back at work, or even what his first word was. (It's written somewhere in a baby book!)

But I do remember how I felt with each milestone: the joy, the overwhelming love, the anxiety, the exhaustion and the sense of wonder. That truly was the greatest gift of the first year… and nothing could have prepared me for all those feelings.

This article was sponsored by Dr. Brown's. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

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I was blissfully asleep on the couch while my little one was occupied elsewhere with toys, books and my partner. She got bored with what they were doing, escaped from his watch and, sensing my absence, set about looking for me. Finding me on the couch, nose-level, she peeled back my one available eyelid, singing, "Mama? Mama? ...You there? Wake UP!"

Sound familiar? Nothing limits sleep more than parenthood. And nothing is more sought after as a parent than a nap, if not a good night's rest.

But Mother Nature practically guarantees that you are likely to be woken up by a toddler—they're hardwired to find you (and get your attention) when you're "away."


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