It’s a fact that the average age of first-time mothers has been rising steadily. In 1970, the average age of new mothers was 24.6. Today, the average first-time mother is 28. Among the reasons cited by researchers for this change are higher education and a woman’s ability to decide when to have children. Women attending college want to establish careers before pursuing motherhood, and access to reliable birth control methods enables woman and their spouses to put off parenthood until the time is right.
So, how do you know when the time is right for you? There are many issues to consider when trying to decide if the moment has come to become a parent The accompanying infographic, When Is the Right Time to Start Your Family?, offers a comprehensive list of questions to consider when deciding if you and your partner are ready to be parents.
According to the evidence, conceiving a baby is generally easier for women in their 20s rather than in their 30s. However, many women choose to wait because circumstances are less than ideal when they are younger. Why might you choose to wait? A major reason why women are waiting to have a child is that they haven’t found the right partner. People today marry later than they did previously. According to the U.S. Census Bureau the median age of marriage in 1970 was 23.2 for men and 20.8 for women. In 2018, the figures were 29.8 for men and 27.8 for women. Being in a committed relationship is among the major determinants in the decision to have a child.
In addition to having a strong relationship and the ability to work together, you need to consider personal life issues, such as career and travel goals. The state of your finances is important, too; the infographic provides figures on the costs of raising a family — and having children is expensive!
You also want to consider whether you have a strong support network of family and friends living nearby, and if you don’t, decide if you are willing to join other parents in an effort to support one another. What about your neighborhood? Is it kid-friendly, or would you have to rethink your location? As it turns out, the saying, “It takes a village to raise a child,” is true.
Now we come to the very important issue of health. Being in good shape and at your optimal weight makes conception, pregnancy and parenthood easier. You may be in good health, but still have problems conceiving, perhaps due to the mother’s age, perhaps due to other reasons, including genetic and reproductive problems. If you are serious about becoming parents regardless of biological issues, we recommend being open to genetic testing of you and your partner as well as testing the baby’s health in utero. If you experience several miscarriages, you may want to seek answers and consider in vitro fertilization (IVF) to improve your chances of conceiving and giving birth.
We wish you the best of luck in making your decision, and hope you have a healthy baby — whenever you decide to start your family.
Infographic provided by Natera