Age of first-time mothers increases

It all seems well, a perfectly planned life, but it never is.

It is every parent’s nightmare to have a daughter fall pregnant before they complete high school. And more girls than before are taking heed. More and more women are choosing to focus on their studies and careers ahead of starting families early.

So it starts with a university degree, the beginning of a career, perhaps a masters degree and moving up the corporate ladder, concentrating on making a mark and in no time, she is 35 years old.

Studies have shown that more women than before are entangled in their careers and advancing themselves academically. However, unlike their male counterparts, women’s biological clocks begin to close in on them when they reach a certain age.

For those women who want to start families later in their lives, they have to come to terms with the fact time is not always on their side.

But why are more women choosing to start families later in life than before?

“In my opinion, many women today have the ability to make choices about their reproductive health. They have more information about their bodies and most are able to choose when they fall pregnant. Some women no longer believe that marriage is not the ultimate achievement. Instead they choose to look after their careers first,” said Matilda, 31, a Zimbabwean woman based in South Africa.

“I’m now over 30 and I’m sure my parents are worried that they may not see a grandchild from me. I think about it sometimes but I am still young. I have a lot to do before I can start taking care of a child. I will start to worry when I get past the age of 35,” Matilda said.

For those women like Matilda who choose to have children later in life, they have the advantage of having a stable income – giving their children access to better education and quality of life. But it is never as clear-cut and as straightforward as that. Some, after nurturing their careers, reach the age of 35 only to realise that, firstly, potential husbands are hard to come by and secondly, naturally conception becomes difficult.

Experts have said fertility rates begin to decline gradually at age 30. Even with fertility treatments, women have more difficulty getting pregnant as they age.

“A woman may not ovulate as often or as easily later in life because the older she gets the less responsive her uterus becomes to implantation – so her eggs may never implant, or the woman may experience a miscarriage,” said a Johannesburg-based doctor .

However, research has shown that for women who wish to stretch out their baby making time, there is more to fertility than just age. Fertility rates also depend on the type of diet, weight and whether one smokes and exercises or not.

Worldwide, the average age of first-time mothers is increasing and the number of first time mothers under the age of 30 has also dropped. It’s a trend that shows shifting dynamics in family and community power balances.

Post published in: News

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