Becoming a mom is incredibly special no matter how old the mother in question is. But there are differences in how women experience pregnancy depending on what age they are.
From the changes every woman undergoes as she ages to the perceptions of other people while they’re expecting, a mom’s age can be way more influential over her pregnancy than she might think. After a certain point, for example, it can become tough for moms to even get pregnant without a bit of help.
On the other hand, a lot of younger moms can struggle with the same thing, but for different reasons. From health status to how familiar a woman is with her body, getting pregnant can be quite the experience no matter how old she is.
Of course, experiencing the pregnancy is a lot different depending on age, too. Once she’s got a bun in the oven, a mom may notice a lot of differences when she’s, say, 21 and expecting versus having her first kiddo at 25.
From what people think to how moms manage their pregnancies, here are 20 ways it’s majorly different if she’s having her first baby at 21 versus at 25 (or beyond).
20 Age Is An Important Number (To Strangers)
When a mom looks young, no matter how old she actually is, strangers tend to comment. And for a mom who’s just had her 21st birthday? It’s tough to get people to take you seriously when they see you’re sporting a baby bump. Maybe it’s just that you have a young face, or maybe there are just a whole lot of older people around you so they think you’re super immature when you’re not, but either way, being 21 and pregnant isn’t often as fun as it might sound. Especially when you’re the designated driver during a night out with your friends and you’re the only one who gets weird looks at the bar.
19 Age Only Matters To Mom's OB
On the other hand, if you’re 25 or older when you have your first baby, the only person your age seems to matter to is your OB. Especially if you’re over 35, for example, because studies show that moms beyond that age are more likely to have babies who need special attention. But that aside, a mom at 25 is less likely to get stares from strangers—unless she’s got a baby face, of course! But there’s a big difference between 21 and 25, at least to most people, and being older and wiser often earns you a reprieve from judgmental strangers’ questions.
18 College Fun
When you’re 21, you’ve probably just had your first adventure at the bar scene, and you might still be in college or at least still in that student mindset. In general, at least, it’s uncommon to find a 21-year-old who’s set in their job and their life overall. Which is why many moms at this age are just coming off of all that partying and unhealthy eating (like Doritos at 2AM in the dorm), plus bingeing and staying up all night. Even if you don’t party hard at
17 Knowing The Body Better
As a mom who got pregnant with her first child (on purpose) at age 20—I turned 21 right after he arrived—I can say with much confidence that I knew nothing about my body at that point. And while most 21-year-olds probably have quite a bit of experience with things like acne and birth control, they don’t usually know much about their monthly cycles or how birth control can impact their bodies. Moms over 25, on the other hand, tend to have more experience with their cycles and stuff that’s beyond teen growing pains. In general, a more mature mom means someone who’s more confident in her body and its abilities.
16 Baby Has Aunties & Uncles Aplenty
When I had my first child, none of my friends were having kids yet, and my little one was set with “aunties” and “uncles” aplenty. Which is pretty common if you start having kids at the relatively young age of 21. After all, for most kids who go off to college after high school, that’s nearing the end of their college stint and typically the beginning of their ventures into the “real” world. On the other hand, if you’re having a baby at 21, especially one who was planned, then you are way ahead in terms of maturity anyway. But for now, that just means having more doting grown-ups around for your new baby to love.
15 Every Mom For Herself
On the other hand, if you’re 25 or older when you start your family, you probably won’t get much special recognition from your friends. After all, the majority of them are likely trying to have a baby too, so it’s basically every mom for herself at this point. Each mom is focused on her own child, so there’s not as much time for friendly get-togethers and doting on the only expectant mom in the group. Nope, you’ll all be sitting at home on your respective couches, wearing your comfy leggings and refusing to put on real clothes because they’re too uncomfortable. Welcome to motherhood.
14 Bonding Based On Babies
For younger moms who are 21 when they have their first child, it can be tough to navigate new parenthood on your own. But if you join moms’ groups or play date get-togethers, odds are that most moms you meet will be a bit older than you. Of course, that just means you’ll bond based on the ages and interests of your children instead of your similarities—which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. After all, when you have kids, it’s normal for your friend zone to open up a bit, as you’ll be stuck with these people as your children grow up together!
13 Mature Moms Meetup
For moms who are 25 or older when they have their first baby, they’ll likely be in good company in terms of both moms and babies if they join groups or try to make mom friends. It’s more likely that you’ll find moms who are your own age when you’re 25 or so and having your first baby, especially if you attend birth classes and whatnot. The difference between older moms and 21-year-old moms, though, is that the older moms tend to have their pick of mom friends in their age group, regardless of the ages of the kids involved.
12 People Expect Incompetence
If you thought getting rude looks was bad when you were a 21-year-old who was rather fresh-faced for her age, imagine what it’s like once you actually have your baby! From personal experience, I can say that people will want to instruct you on how to do everything with your baby because they’ll often assume incompetence based on your age. It’s a sad fact, but plenty of people think that young moms can’t figure things out on their own and that they need someone older and wiser to help them. So let’s just stick with the whole we’ll ask for help if we need it thing, okay?
11 People Think You Know What You’re Doing
This one is both a burden and a blessing, because as you get older—whether you’re a parent or not—people somehow just expect that you’ll be more competent in whatever it is you’re doing. So even if you’re a 25-year-old first-time mom who has absolutely no clue what she’s doing, people will assume you’ve got it all figured out since you’re older. On the other hand, it’s nice to not have people second-guessing you at every turn, even if internally, you’re still second-guessing yourself. Fake it ‘til you make it, mama—that’s what everyone else is doing (me included)!
10 Parents Are Surprised
Whether your first child at age 21 is a surprise or a planned event, people will be surprised. After all, if your baby is a surprise, they might be surprised that you’re embracing becoming a parent at such a young age. If you planned your child, they might wonder why you’re “giving up” your young adulthood in favor of smelly diapers and a lifetime commitment. Essentially, whatever mom's circumstances, people are going to question things, because they’ll either think you’re irresponsible or that you’re crazy, and neither of those is fun to deal with. In the end, though, you kind of have to laugh it off—and know that when your kiddo arrives, they’ll love him or her just the same.
9 People Are Getting Impatient
For moms who are in their mid-20s or beyond and are just now expecting, most people around them are probably heaving a sigh of relief! After all, there’s a certain point—usually around 25 or so—that people start to expect that you’re going to start trying for a baby. Of course, the pressure is worse if you’re married, but these days, that’s not a requirement for your parents to start harping on you to give them a grandbaby. And if you do want to have kids, and people know that, they’ll be bugging you to find out when it’s going to happen—as if you don’t have your own timetable for that whole process.
8 Mom Will Have More Energy
One of the perks of being a young parent, even if you didn’t plan it that way, is that younger people inherently have more energy. When I was 21 with my first child, for example, waking up ten times a night wasn’t fun, but I could do it. At 25? I could barely keep my eyeballs open while rocking my newborn—and I had been sleeping through the night with the first one for three years by then. Overall, younger parents tend to have more energy, so we can make up for our lack of experience and whatnot with an exuberance unmatched by 25-year-old and on moms.
7 Mom Is Nearing Thirty, ‘Nuff Said
Although there’s no magic point at which young adults start becoming drained of their energy, it seems to happen around age 25 or so. Of course, the closer you get to 30, the closer you are to the other side of the hill, if you know what I mean. It’s universally known that 30 is the magic point at which you truly become an “adult” and should not only know how to handle everything life throws at you, but also exist on exactly eight hours of sleep per night but in a perpetual state of exhaustion. And that’s before kids! So if you feel more tired as a parent who’s 25+, that’s why.
6 People Think It’s An "Oops"
Here’s another misconception people have about young moms: if they’re under a certain age, the baby was an oops. And sure, we get a lot of that thanks to MTV’s shows about teen moms who start popping out babies at age sixteen or so, but there really are women out there who plan their babies at a younger age—yes, on purpose! And whether they’re truly equipped to handle a pregnancy and becoming a parent isn’t the point: if a mom chooses to have kids at 21 or any age over 18 really, it’s just that—her choice. As adults, we’re allowed to make the choice—and even if we didn’t, making the choice to parent is just significant, too.
5 People Assume All Is Planned
Of course, moms on the other side of the age spectrum get a whole other judgment. If a woman is over 25 or so, even if she’s unmarried, people will probably assume she’s planned her baby. Maybe you don’t care what people think of you—but a lot of us do! So it can be tough to have people think that you planned a baby in the middle of your successful professional trajectory when you would have rather waited. Maybe the congratulations make you feel a little bitter at first as you come to terms with the change in your life plans, but if you choose to parent, people will think what they want to think anyway.
4 Super Smooth Skin Lasts
One of the things that I always noticed about MTV’s Teen Mom series was that the moms who had babies at sixteen tended not to have stretch marks. And let me tell you, at 21 with a ton of stretch marks all over from my first baby, I was jealous! But in general, the younger a mom is, the more elastic her skin is, so that means I was probably a rarer case than I’d imagined. Many moms avoid these marks with their first babies if they start in their early 20s, although there are a handful of other factors that come into play, too.
3 Not So Lucky With Stretch Marks
On the other side of the young-moms-don’t-get-stretch-marks generality is that older moms are bound to get them. And it’s true, the older you are when you start having kids, the likelier you are to develop stretch marks. But there are exceptions to this “rule,” and of course, some of it is just because moms are getting older to begin with, not necessarily that they’re new or expectant moms. Overall, though, moms should expect a bit of striping to come from having carried and delivered a baby—and there’s nothing wrong with that! After all, it’s just a sign of everything amazing that your body did to welcome your little one(s) into the world.
2 The Job Isn’t As Important
For a lot of women who start having babies early on in their 20s, work isn’t exactly a priority. And it’s not that we were lazy or didn’t have a job, but it’s just that most moms aren’t exactly set on their professional paths at age 21. Personally, I planned on working part time when I had my first kiddo at 21, and the job I had definitely wasn’t my dream role where I’d want to stay forever. And I know this is true for other moms, too, especially those who have their partners’ support to be stay-at-home moms—there’s always time for professional goals later, too.
1 Mom Might Be Skipping Some Stuff
For women who start having kids at age 25 or older, their work goals are probably front-and-center, at least until the baby making plans start up. At this point, some women either choose to postpone their professional lives, or they move things around so that they can still be successful and enjoy what they’re doing, but also be able to take time off when the baby comes. And some moms do the opposite of those 21-year-old parents and plan on resuming their path after the kids are grown—after all, what’s a break of a few years when you’re taking the time off to do something else you love?