Four Reasons Women Delay Childbirth Until Midlife
Anyone reading recent news has surely seen the myriad of articles about the birth rates for women in their 30s being at the highest levels in four decades. You might wonder why women are delaying having children when the medical establishment is so gung-ho on informing us that “Advanced Maternal Age” raises the risk of miscarriage, congenital disabilities, twins, high blood pressure, gestational diabetes, and difficult labor. Here are the four main reasons moms wait to have kids until later in life.
Science and technology give women a choice
Women still struggle with social permission to delay marriage and childbirth. We are no longer labeled spinsters after a certain age, but the question remains, “when are you going to get married?” Or the equivalent, “don’t wait too long to get pregnant!”
In 2016, for the first time in history, more women in their early 30s were having babies than younger moms. The social pressure may still exist, but reliable birth control and assisted reproductive methods have given women control over when they want to begin a family.
Pursuing higher education
High school graduates are increasingly encouraged to pursue higher education; women with degrees have children about seven years later than those without further education. On average, women delay motherhood to age 28 for a bachelor’s degree and age 30 for a Master’s degree.
At least six years are typically required to achieve a post-graduate degree, which accounts for the delay in starting a family. Although literature defines advanced reproductive age as a moment in time, e.g., at 35 years old, there is no threshold where it takes effect. The effects of age on fertility and pregnancy occur on a continuum after the mid-30s and newborns are more likely to suffer a serious birth injury as maternal age increases. The experts at Tinker Law Firm note that new parents can face unexpected medical costs from birth complications that could lead to financial insecurity.
Trying to establish a career
There’s a promise of better employment after higher education, but even the smartest college graduate isn’t guaranteed regular work. As the country moves more toward a gig economy, people of all education levels require multiple jobs to make ends meet. It requires more experience to land a full-time job with benefits, so it takes longer to establish a secure position in the workplace.
Cost of having a child in the U.S. is astounding
More opportunities to have children at a later age exist than ever before, but with staggering college loans and low-paying jobs, it takes women forever to get on their feet. Delaying motherhood measurably increased women’s earnings. The Great Recession had a noticeable impact on pregnancy rates because women put off pregnancy to put aside a nest egg before taking on the responsibility of raising a child. In the only first-world country without paid parental leave, in addition to expensive daycare, the cost of having a child in the U.S. and enrolling them in childcare is disqualifying for many women. Americans also pay almost twice the cost for healthcare than any other advanced country.
Although the news might lead you to think there’s a birthing crisis, there isn’t a perfect time for women to get pregnant. Ultimately, it’s up to you to decide on timing based on your circumstances. Although the risks of pregnancy increase with your age, it’s okay to wait until you are confident in your education, career, and finances to begin a family.
Tags: midlife motherhood