Delaying pregnancy means it might not come naturally

The Statistics Department is marking Mothers Day by publishing some of the numbers on mothers:

One of those showed the increase in multiple births:

  • A total of 953 mothers gave birth to twins or triplets in 2008, compared with 537 mothers in 1978. Twins were born to 475 first-time mothers, and another six new mothers had triplets.
  • In 2008, 189 mothers who gave birth to twins or triplets already had at least two other children.
  • Mothers having multiple births tend to be older. While just under half (49 percent) of mothers who had single births in 2008 were aged 30 or over, for multiple births this rose to almost two-thirds (61 percent).
  • This is partly explained by the increase in the median age for mothers from 25 in 1978 to 30 last year.

    I was 28 when our first baby was born and I was one of a few “older” mothers-to-be in an ante natal class of about a dozen. There was one woman older than me, one my age, another was 25 and the others were in their early 20s or younger. That was 24 years ago, now 28 is the median age for first time mothers.

    The age people become parents depends on several factors and its a personal decision for individual couples, or even these days with IVF, for individual would-be mothers.

    However, the growing number of people delaying parenthood has coincided with an increase in infertility and research suggests it’s not only a problem for women:

    Age is the most important factor when it comes to conception. It has a significant effect on the chance of conception per month. Even for a ‘normal’ fertile couple, the older you get, the longer the time it takes to conceive. Fertility levels diminish with age particularly with women, but recent research also indicates that age can also play an important part for men.

    A woman’s most fertile window is approximately between the ages of 16 to 25. On average, it can take about three to four months for a 25 year-old to conceive if everything is normal. From 35 onwards there is a significant drop in the chance of conception per month. The average 35 year old takes at least six to eight months to conceive.

    There’s a sad irony that couples who’ve spent years ensuring they won’t get pregnant find that when they want to conceive, pregnancy doesn’t necessarily come naturally and the longer they leave it the harder it’s likely to be.

    Dealing with infertility, going through IVF and possibly accepting that they can’t have children is very difficult for people who desperately want to have a family.

    Starting earlier definitely improves the chances of conception but runs counter to the message women my age and younger have been given about being in control of our lives.

    The message that women can do -almost – anything hasn’t changed. But it doesn’t mean we can do everything and putting off parenthood to pursue a career, to travel, build up finances or any other reason decreases the chances of becoming a parent at all.

    5 Responses to Delaying pregnancy means it might not come naturally

    1. Colin Lucas says:

      We were lucky. Others sadly are not and does affect relationships as well.

      Our first son was concieved when my wife was 39 and our second, with surprisingly little effort, when she was 41.

      We were the geriatrics of our ante-natal class!

      I should add that having children late was not unusal in my mothers side of the family. Her mother had her children in her ’40s as well.

      As an aside, I’m continualy surprised at women thinking that having children in their ’20s is a career hinderance. I know a number of women in my profession who are incredibly successful (i,e are Partners in major professional service firms, QC’s and Judges) in their careers who had children early in their lives and then go on with things.


    2. JC says:

      Its all related to pendulums and equilibrium and things.

      In 1960 it was one man, one job, one family, over 4 kids and compulsory wife and mother.

      Now its two parents, two jobs, 2 kids and other families/partners optional.

      The big difference is that equal opportunity and pay had the effect of making two jobs a necessity for the average family as the state could spend vastly more on social spending, allow plenty of inflation that eroded the value of just one wage packet and allow the concept of the nuclear family to erode.

      Somewhere between 1960 and today we allowed the equilibrium between the nuclear family and fairness to women to be lost, to the point where two wage packets are needed to support a national structure where 50% of the population are net beneficiaries of the state.

      It seems to me that what was initially a fair recognition of women in the workplace has morphed into women becoming an economic necessity first with family in the rear.



    3. Paul Walker says:

      The answer may be to reintroduce the draft.


    4. Deborah says:

      The multiples rate increase is interesting. Some of it will be due to drugs, but some of it will just be increased maternal age. The rate of twinning increases as mothers get older.

      (I read a lot about twinning once I knew we were pregnant with twins, but mine are monozygotic, so that was just random good luck.)


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