updated 02/05/2009 AT 6:00 PM ET
•originally published 02/06/2009 AT 11:45 AM ET
Salma Hayek has some words of wisdom for women who are hesitant about starting a family later on in life.
“When you turn 40, it’s a lost easier than 30,” the actress, 42, tells USA Today. “They lied when they said you get old when you’re 40. The best is the 40s.”
Hayek, who gave birth to daughter Valentina in September 2007, says she’ll “maybe” expand her brood, adding that she won’t let her age determine whether or not she’ll have more kids.
“I had her at 41. I don’t sleep because she doesn t sleep, but I have a lot of energy,” she says. “I don’t feel like, ‘Oh my God, this is too late.’ ”
Helping Children in Need
On Thursday the actress launched the second annual Pampers/UNICEF program, a campaign aimed at eradicating tetanus in mothers and their children around the world. For her work with UNICEF, she recently traveled to Sierra Leone.
“We went to a hospital, which was shocking. The conditions there was nothing to administer the vaccinations – they don’t have alcohol, clean water or electricity,” she told PEOPLE Thursday. “There was a child that was the age of Valentina that was half the size of Valentina it is just heartbreaking.”
Seeing the conditions made Hayek even more grateful for her life and her daughter, she tells PEOPLE. “I appreciate everything in my life more. I want to be a part of making a difference for them,” she says. “I appreciate that my little baby is healthy. I thank God everyday that she is healthy.”
Speaks About Her Ex
As for ex-fiancé and Valentina’s father, Francois-Henri Pinault, “[He] is the best father. I was meant to have this baby with this man,” she tells USA Today about the French billionaire. The two called off their engagement in July but remain a couple.
“I am so happy I didn t settle and I waited for him,” she says. “Had I not, I don t know what my life would be like. You always have to believe there’s a greater future and you have to recognize it when it comes.”
Reporting by LISA MARSH