Things to consider when planning your family include the age you plan to have kids at.
For starters, the obvious reality is that having children changes a person’s life. All of a sudden, you find yourself living with someone who truly depends on you for their livelihood. In Quebec, the average age for motherhood (regardless of whether it was a first pregnancy or not) went from 27.3 years old in 1976 to 30.3 years old in 2013. We can therefor conclude that women are having babies increasingly late in their lives.
Becoming a mother in your forties is no longer such a marginal phenomenon. Since fertility techniques have evolved dramatically, fertility rates for women between 40 and 44 have gone from 2 in 1 000 to 11 in 1 000.
Despite certain risks and difficulties, such as miscarriages, health issues, difficulties getting pregnant and other problems, waiting until later in life to bear children can also have some advantages.
Parenthood is Better when you’re Prepared
Your baggage of accumulated experience and your self-confidence are usually much better when you’re 40 than when you’re 25. Moments of panic or discouragement during difficult situations will happen less frequently and with less intensity. Another benefit is that by age 40, many of your friends may have already parented children for years, and may be in a position to offer advice or help.
Financial and personal preparedness is also usually better once you’ve reached 40. Youthful experiences have been lived out in full, you’ve got an established career, you’ve started accumulating some savings, and are generally better prepared for life’s surprises. You also have the necessary added maturity to face challenges, which everyone knows will be a near-daily occurrence as a mother. As a calmer, more flexible person, you’ll be better equipped to relativize your situation and act accordingly.
A Swedish study published last year in the Popular and Development Review shows that children born to older parents grow up healthier and more educated.
Why wait so long to bear children? In the past, women used to bear children in their twenties and enjoy life in their forties. Now, this model is reversed: people are making the most of life while they’re young, and have the energy to do fun projects, travel, etc.
Relationships have also changed dramatically since our grandparents’ generation. They’re much less stable and short-lived, especially at a young age. Free from the obligations of marriage and the religious pressure to procreate, society now tends to tread more carefully before deciding to parent more people.
Women who already have children are also choosing to wait for longer before having the next one. Sometimes, this is because it’s not with the same partner. Other times, it’s to allow for more time to raise the first child properly. Some people want to have children of both sexes, or simply don’t want their child to be raised alone.
In any case, waiting for longer between children means you have experience, patience and wisdom that are incomparable to when you had your first child, so things should go pretty well this time… Right?