Everybody will be an expert on the topic of the best age to have a baby. I think different ages have different advantages and disadvantages, so I will try to discuss some here.
Most women are at their most fertile between the ages of 23 and 31, though the rate at which women conceive begins to dip slightly in their late 20s. Around age 31, fertility starts to drop more quickly — by about 3 percent per year — until you hit 35 or so. From there, the decline accelerates. In general, by the age of 40 only two in five of those who want to have a baby will be able to do so.
If you have specific medical conditions that can affect your fertility, or a family history of infertility, you should have a discussion with your health professional about the best age to try to get pregnant, challenges you might face and information about medical and alternative therapies that may help.
Other things can affect your fertility levels, such as smoking or drinking moderate to large amounts of alcohol. If you want to start a family, it might be a good time to review your lifestyle choices and make some decisions for your own health now and for once you have children.
How young is too young? I think most would agree that being a teen mom is probably less-than-ideal for many girls. I’m certain there are some teen moms who plan well, manage their pregnancy and raising their baby well, and would easily prove me wrong. However, I think most would agree that it is preferable to spend your teen years focussing on education and setting yourself up for a secure future as much as possible.
Parenting is a 24/7 job, expensive and stressful. Make sure you understand the responsibilities that come with being a parent and are committed to this and willing to make the sacrifices necessary to care for your child.
There are some advantages to being a teen mom of course, in that the mother and baby are closer in age and can “grow up” together, and teenagers have plenty of energy to spend with their child. If you are lucky enough to be able to continue your education and access daycare for your child while you do that, it will be a definite advantage.
Best age to have a Baby
Your fertility levels are at the optimum levels in your 20’s, so that is most likely the easiest time to fall pregnant. If you are “running late” on parenting, talk to your healthcare professional to see what you can do to assist fertility and increase your chances.
In general, most people should fall pregnant within 6 – 12 months. If you are aged under 35, see your doctor if you have been unsuccessful after a year. If you are over 35, or have a pre-existing condition that may affect your fertility. you should see your doctor sooner than a year.
However, there are many other things that have to be considered when you want to start a family, so here are some things you might want to think about and discuss with your partner as you decide what age you want to start a family.
- Are you really ready to have a family, or are you getting pressure from others to do so? Have you made a definite decision to be parents? Just because you are married or in a committed relationship, doesn’t mean the next logical step has to be kids.
- If you are confident that you are ready, do some reading on parenting, talk to other parents, even offer to babysit so you can have some real life experience – very important if you have limited experience of caring for babies or children.
- Financial – babies and children cost a lot of money. And will do for 20+ years. So you need to make sure you are financially in a position to manage. Work out your budget, plan ahead and be as prepared as you can be.
- Who is going to stay home to look after the baby, and for how long? Are you entitled to family leave or payment from your employer? Check out daycare costs in your area – it can be surprisingly expensive.
- Career – what effect will it have on your career, and how will you manage the impact on earnings or career progression?
- What support is there available – family support, babysitters, financial support, church support.
- Remember that a lot of things you have planned and agreed may change as circumstances change, so keep discussing these with your partner and be prepared to be flexible.
- If you are going to be a single parent, or the pregnancy was unplanned, you will need to plan even harder to decide how you will make it work.
- Start saving and get lots of sleep!
Leaving it Late
Everyone knows there is a “deadline” for getting pregnant, on average menopause will arrive between the ages of 48 – 55 for women in developed countries like America.
Try to avoid reaching your mid-40’s and suddenly thinking “oh my goodness, I forgot to have children!” It’s most likely going to be much harder to conceive by then, if you can at all, and you will have missed your chance.
There is a new, rare trend in some areas of women “cheating” menopause, finding a willing doctor and taking lots of drugs and having babies at an advanced age – into their 60’s in some cases. I personally think that is a risk – it’s much harder for the body to recover from the high levels of hormone medication required, and surely it puts you at higher risk of developing serious side-effects and other complications. There is also the fact that you will have an increased risk of serious illness or dying while your child is still young – there are no guarantees in life, of course, but it’s important to have a realistic chance of being around until your child is an adult. If you give birth at age 60, the chances are much diminished. I would imagine the energy levels required to care for a baby and child would be a struggle too.
If a woman reaches menopause and then decides they want children, there are plenty of children in foster care who would love a family! And I know that’s not an easy option, but then neither is trying to force your body back into a reproductive state post-menopause.