What is the Best Age to Get Pregnant?
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This is the big question that many women who want children ask themselves at some point: Is it more important to be at the 'prime' physical age to carry and give birth to a child, or is it more important to be financially and emotionally secure when wishing to have a baby?
The health nitty-gritty
The facts are clear: 84 out of 100 women under 35 conceive naturally within one year of unprotected sex whereas 94 out of 100 women over the age of 34 conceive naturally within 3 years. After the age of 38 this goes down to 77 out of 100 women. Unfortunately for us, fertility in women decreases from the age of 30 and the speed of decline picks up from the age of 35. For a woman, the hard facts show that biologically it is easier and healthier to start a family before the age of 35, simply your age affects fertility. After age 35, there is an increased risk of pregnancy complications; interestingly there is also a higher chance of conceiving multiples.
Some men become fathers in their 60s and 70s and currently there is some evidence to suggest that older fathers pass on longevity to their children. However, there are also studies that indicate there may be a higher risk of passing on some mental disorders when men have children later in life. As with women, men's fertility also declines with age, although the decline is more gradual than women's and most men remain fertile into their 50s and beyond.
Despite the fertility and health risks associated with having children later in life, many couples conceive naturally after the age of 35 and go on to have healthy pregnancies and children.
Financial and emotional factors
The ideal physical age for pregnancy may be during your 20s, but this is not necessarily the best time either financially or emotionally to have a child. Most women and men in their twenties have not yet conquered their chosen profession and are more than likely still climbing that slippery career slope. For a woman, to step off the career ladder to have a baby can make it very difficult for her to get back on; some women take years to win back the ground they have lost. However, by their 30s most women are more established and more able to take a break from work without losing ground. Owning or renting a home that would be suitable for a family, and being in a stable relationship can also take a while to achieve.
The older you are, the more likely you are to be settled in many aspects of your life, but of course many people are ready to start a family when they are younger. Maybe 'the perfect time' doesn't really exist. The average cost of bringing up a child in the UK is estimated to be over £200,000; even the wealthiest of people don't often have that kind of money lying around. There will always be other things to spend your money on until children come along, and perhaps it is when we have them that we become ready for them. You are probably more adaptable than you think you are. There are plenty of unplanned pregnancies in the world which have developed into loving and stable families. Whatever age you decide is the best age to have a child is a personal decision.
Are you ready to give up your regular girlie nights out - at least for a while anyway? Can you accept that you won't be able to have a full conversation without interruptions for several years? If you can answer 'yes' to these questions it could be that now is the right time. It needs to be remembered that although these events will take place and will probably be disrupted that having children is not an antisocial event! Having a child opens up a whole new area of social opportunities for you and your baby to enjoy.
If you pose this question to a random group of mothers you will get many different answers as it depends on the circumstances of the individual. Whatever age you choose to embark on this adventure, (and remember no one is ever fully ready for the responsibility and pressures of being a parent), the most important thing you can do for yourself and your child is to ensure you are as healthy as you can be before you conceive.