Whether you're hoping to conceive for the first time, or already have a child or two, age is often a deciding factor as you plan your family.
Becoming a parent as a teenager used to be the norm as a matter of fact; in the 1800’s and 1900’s the purpose of most women was to procreate and look after the family, after all. I’m not saying that women weren’t happy with their lives by any means, but as the years progressed and women were able to seek out more education and independence, the age of becoming a mother for the first time changed to be later and later in life.
No doubt about it - the role of women in society has changed even more drastically over the past 100 years. As females, we can make the decision to plan our pregnancies and have children as we feel it fits in our life plan. Unplanned babies aside, women today have uncounted reasons for having, or not having babies, or choosing a specific age at which they choose to embark on the miraculous journey of motherhood.
Which age is the best for having children? I truly believe the best answer to that question is different for all of us. But if you are not certain about how to go about your family planning, take a look at 22 facts which will cover topics like health and education, that may help you decide when to have a baby.
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1. While having children in your early 20’s (or earlier) is much less common these days, many women are still doing so and have a myriad of reasons why they would not have changed a thing. Of course, a few women may feel that having a baby at a young age caused them to “grow up fast”, but for certain, doing so doesn’t change your life goals - it just rearranges them a bit.
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2. If you choose to have a baby in your early 20’s, your chance of conceiving and carrying a baby full term are very high. By reason of your youth, your body is strong, prepared for reproduction, and at it’s most fertile. Many women choose to start young, and are thrilled with the speed at which their body springs back to it’s pre-pregnancy state. If you are someone who may unknowingly have fertility issues, getting the heads up early in life prepares you for the treatments and trials that may be in store.
3. From the ages of 20 to 25, your risk of miscarriage is 9.5%, the lowest it will ever be. Because your eggs are young, there is less chance of them having a genetic abnormality which can cause disorders such as Down’s syndrome, the most common genetic chromosomal disorder. The risk of either of these rises only minimally from age 25 to 29.
4. Statistics show that having a baby between the ages of 20 and 25 substantially reduces your chance of getting breast cancer later in life. This is because being pregnant helps young breast tissue to mature and cells to develop normally. The pregnancy hormone, hCG is thought to help prevent breast cancer.
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5. Younger moms for a fact, have been known to not only bounce back from labor and delivery more quickly, but are able to cope with the reduced hours of sleep that go part and parcel with having a new baby in the house. Because of their young age, moms in their twenties traditionally have more energy to go around when it comes to keeping up with a busy baby.
6. Having a baby at a very young age can present financial difficulties for some couples who may not yet have their money matters in order. On the other hand, starting your family when you are young presents the incentive to start the college fund early. Speaking of school, because not so long ago you were a student yourself, you may find it easier than an older parent to relate to your school age child’s homework.
7. Disrupting your career plans does not really come into play if you start a family at a young age; because you are new to the workforce, it can be easier to take a maternity leave and return to work if desired. Your career will really get going as you mature, and you can use the time at home to build on your education on a part time basis - setting yourself up for a positive re-entry into the workforce. However, there is always the reality that your professional goals may not be achieved.
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8. Not that you want to think about this at all right now, but having babies early means the empty nest will happen sooner, leaving you ample time for travel and other activities while you are still quite young. If thoughts of this leave you reeling, at least think about the fact that your kids will be older while you are still very young - and you can go on great travel adventures together.
9. Pregnant women risk having a low birth weight baby if their nutritional habits are not good. Many young moms have stated that having a child in your twenties gives you the incentive to eat healthy, exercise and give up youthful habits that may not be so good for you, such as junk food and excessive alcohol consumption. Not to mention the fact that you did not have a lot of years on your own makes it easier to leave the single life behind.
10. Though being of a younger age may make conception easier, it is a fact that having a baby soon after marriage will decrease the time spent alone with your partner, getting to know each other while enjoying a few years as a couple. Some may find having a baby early in the relationship can cause a strain, while others feel having an addition to the family brings total unity and empowerment to the partnership.
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11. Trying to conceive and have a healthy pregnancy is easier when you are in your early 30’s as opposed to later in the decade. The problem here is, that your fertility can begin to wane markedly after the age of 35. If you are 30, but planning to wait until after 35 to start your family, you may want to consider looking into freezing your young eggs just in case there are problems in the future.
12. If you are destined to develop health issues in life, your mid 30’s is often the age when they will appear. Diabetes and high blood pressure can develop, and therefore can become a complication during your pregnancy. If you already have high blood pressure, you may be at risk for preeclampsia, a dangerous possibility which will greatly affect blood flow to the uterus.
13. Between the ages of 35 and 39, the chances of becoming pregnant with twins is 1 in 5. The reason for this is that the shift in hormones that begins to take place after 35 may result in more than one egg being released at ovulation because of the increase in FSH, or follicle stimulating hormone.
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14. The age of 35 marks the official start of chances for a high risk pregnancy. This is not an open and closed book, here - you may have a perfectly normal pregnancy in your mid 30’s and beyond, but it is best to be aware of the increased possibility of abnormalities such as an ectopic pregnancy.
15. Some people say that becoming parents in your 30’s is a very happy medium between being a younger or an older mom and dad. As partners, you and your significant other have had ample time to get the savings started for the future, and are most likely very secure in your relationship. You have had time to do couples only activities and may be truly ready to add to the family.
16. As a woman in your 30’s, you may be happier to stay at home with your baby, if you choose to do so. You have been in the workforce for several years and are ready to make a change from working outside the home to raising a child as a stay at home mother, taking your child on playdates and outings while continuing to enjoy adult activities such as blogging, working from home or advancing your education.
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17. You may choose to return to work soon after the baby is born. Being a career woman and a mom in your 30’s may be a very flexible option because you are well established in your career, but not yet as tied down as an older career woman. The confidence you have at this stage in your career can give you the ability to negotiate on your terms in regards to flexible hours, telecommuting and job sharing.
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18. More and more women today are having babies in their 40’s. Reasons for this can be that they only found their life partner at an older age, or chose to pursue a career before having children. Let’s not forget those who may have had trouble conceiving and only now, through fertility treatments have been able to get pregnant. Chances of chromosomal abnormalities due increase with age as well. Being a mom-to-be with many life experiences under your belt can bring you the courage and confidence you need to be a parent.
19. Older moms have had the opportunity to pursue and complete their education and are ready to make the sacrifices needed to raise a child. On the flip side, some older women find it very difficult to make the change from career woman to mom and may miss the income they brought in before baby arrived. In support of older moms, patience may be easier to find and image security is rarely an issue.
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20. Women who become moms in their 40’s may be more impacted by the lack of sleep as a new parent than a younger woman would be. Our energy levels are naturally less than they were in our 20’s. Longer recovery from childbirth may be an issue, too due to the change in stamina as we age.
21. Fertility is always an issue for the older woman seeking to conceive in view of the reality of the number of eggs that are released at ovulation. Truth be known, our eggs don’t function as well during fertilization and that explains why the risk of miscarriage increases to 50% after the age of 42. Fertility is also compromised because older women tend to have irregular periods, making it even harder to get pregnant.
22. If you do get pregnant in your 40’s, your chance of having twins increases due to the actuality that shifting hormones can cause the release of multiple eggs, which means that the already high risk pregnancy of an older woman now becomes even more sensitive. Be prepared for more ultrasounds than normal, frequent visits to your caregiver and the chance of delivering premature. Rest assured though, many pregnancies in older women go just fine, whether it is a multiple birth or not.
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23. Becoming pregnant when you are in your 40’s can mean a longer labor is in store than if you were younger, particularly if this is your first pregnancy. It’s evident that most of us become less flexible as we age, which in turn can cause the body to labor longer. Statistics also show that older moms-to-be have a higher incidence of baby turning the wrong way and resulting in a breech position. Some older moms are induced before the due date to further avoid problems such as the very tragic stillbirth.
From minor issues with being an older mom, like increased chances of worsening varicose veins (I can vouch for that one), to the emotional difficulties of becoming a parent at a young age when you may not be quite ready, the journey of conception through gestation and ultimately to childbirth is never perfect at any age.
It’s fascinating though, that becoming a mother at any age always seems to be the right choice. No matter what age you decide to have a baby, remember to attend regular check ups with your health provider, start folic acid supplements before you conceive and take care in monitoring and maintaining a healthy lifestyle for the next nine months