It all seems rather perfect. You finish school, get a degree, start the career of your dreams and work your way up the proverbial corporate ladder. The next thing you know, you’re 35 and in a great position financially and personally, but you’re only now thinking about having kids. Don’t feel guilty, you’re far from alone.
In fact, worldwide, the average age of first-time mothers is increasing. Today, there are 9 times as many “first births” to women over the age of 35 than there were 40 years ago. But that’s not the only interesting statistic: “first births” to women under the age of 30 have also dropped.
So why are women waiting longer to have kids?
The cost of living, medical expenses, education and a career are the most common reasons women give for putting off starting a family. Add to that the fact that women put secure relationships and travel experience ahead of having kids, and it becomes clear why this has become the norm.
Are there any benefits to having kids later in life?
Almost certainly! An established career means better income and your own home, and your own life and travel experiences mean you’ll also be in a better position to raise, guide and educate your children the way you see fit.
There’s a catch though, and it’s a biggie
Mother Nature doesn’t consider modern economics, and the biggest risk in delaying pregnancy is infertility. When you’re in your mid-late 20s, you’re at the peak of your fertility, but you still only have around 20% chance of conceiving during any given menstrual cycle. And once you reach your mid-late 30s that number drops to around 10%. As you get older, you also run the risk of developing conditions such as PCOS (polycystic ovarian syndrome), endometriosis and uterine fibroids – which can make conceiving even more difficult.
Pregnant women over the age of 35 also run the risk of developing high blood pressure, are more likely to miscarry, have twins or triplets, or have a baby with a congenital abnormality such as Down’s syndrome.
Don’t panic – there’s plenty you can do to help boost your fertility
By keeping yourself as healthy as possible, you significantly increase your chances of conceiving. Key lifestyle factors to focus on are:
- Maintaining a healthy weight (if you’re over or underweight it has a negative impact on your fertility)
- Eating a balanced diet that includes plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables, lean proteins, and healthy fats
- Exercising regularly (3-5 times a week)
- Quitting smoking and cutting down on the amount of alcohol you drink
Please bear this in mind though while you’re keeping one eye on your ticking biological clock: there are plenty of women who have perfectly healthy babies well into their late 30s and early 40s, so stay positive and keep doing everything you can to help nature take its course.