Those who are in their twenties or thirties and don’t have children tend to constantly hear questions and comments about whether or not they plan on conceiving anytime soon. To be better prepared for this barrage of questions, you can learn what scientists consider the best age to have a baby.
One top expert for reproductive aging says that women should have children before age 35 due to biological reasons. This can seem to be patronizing advice for those who are waiting for the right time to start a family.
What Is the Best Age to Have a Baby?
In 1968, the average childbearing age of women was 23, but a recent study by the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists found that now it is 29.3 years old. This information comes from a review of multiple studies and also showed that the number of women who had babies when they were over 40 has tripled within the previous 20 years. Last year, there were 27,000 babies born to mom’s over 40.
The study was done to help women understand their fertility lifecycle. They still argue that the safest time to have a baby is between 20 and 35. In fact, 30% of 35 year olds need more than a year to conceive while only 5% of 25 year olds need this much time. There is also an increased risk of complications such as stillbirth, ectopic pregnancy, pre-eclampsia, and miscarriage for women in the late 30s or 40s.
Although research tends to focus on women, the study also found that male fertility starts declining at age 25 and most 40 year olds will need two years for their partner to conceive including if she is still in her 20s.
If you would like to learn more about the best age to have a baby, you can watch the video below:
What Are the Pros and Cons of Having a Baby in My 20s?
- Fertility at its peak
Your fertility is at its peak during your mid-20s, making it the best time to conceive and carry your child. At birth, you will have all one or two million eggs that you have. By puberty, only 300,000 to 500,000 remain, but only 400 or so will be released during your lifetime. The problem is that as you age, so do your eggs. This means that as you get older, chromosomal abnormalities in your eggs become more likely leading to conditions such as Down’s syndrome.
- Reduced chance of miscarriage
Moms in their 20s also have a reduced chance of miscarriage although early miscarriage can still be a large risk. There is also a lower risk of health conditions such as endometriosis or fibroids. You will also be healthier while pregnant decreasing your chances of a baby with a low birth weight, a premature baby, high blood pressure, or diabetes. You will even have more energy to care for your child.
- Affect career paths
Most 20 year olds aren’t set in their career paths yet, making it harder to bounce back into the work force after having a baby. In fact, those who have babies younger tend to have lower lifetime earnings than women who have babies later on in life.
- Not stable enough to raise a baby
When you are younger, it is also harder to be financially stable and in many cases you will still be paying off college loans or other debt, making it hard to take care of a baby. Some relationships aren’t stable enough yet either as the parents don’t have enough life experience or simply aren’t well-settled.
What Are the Pros and Cons of Having a Baby in My 30s?
- The optimal time
Your 30s is the optimal time to have a baby in terms of your career. You should have a good financial cushion in place, but probably won’t be far enough along in your career where taking some time off for your baby is a major setback. If you plan on going back into the workforce after having the baby, you can easily keep your skills up to par and stay in touch with the industry.
- Mature enough
At this age, you will still have resilience and stamina and will also be more willing to deal with changes than those in their 20s or 40s. You still have enough energy to play with your children, and are confident enough to know what to do.
- The risk of genetic abnormalities
In terms of biology, experts agree that you should have kids before you are 35 as it will become harder to conceive and your risks of Down syndrome, miscarriage, and other genetic abnormalities increases after this point.
- Increased risk of complications
If you are over 35, you also have an increased risk of complications such as an ectopic pregnancy and are more likely to need a C-section. Moms who want two kids need to keep in mind that by their late 30s, it will be much more difficult, so you should ideally start having kids by the early 30s at the latest.
What Are the Pros and Cons of Having a Baby in My 40s?
- Stable enough to raise a baby well
By the time you are in your 40s, you will be financially and emotionally ready to have a child. Additionally, you will have a comfortable and secure relationship with your partner, so your child has a good foundation. Older parents also have more life experience allowing them to make better parenting decisions and do so with increased confidence.
- Easier to go back to work
It is also easier for women in their 40s to go back to work after a pregnancy as they are already established. You are also already financially secure with enough cushion to take care of your child. There is actually an increased chance of women over 40 having twins as the hormones frequently cause two eggs to be released instead of one, allowing you to start your family quickly. Despite the following cons, it is still entirely possible to get pregnant and have a healthy pregnancy in your 40s.
It is harder to conceive in your 40s and if you do, you have an increased risk of health complications than younger women. There is double the chance of the following problems:
- Placental abruption
- Placental previa
- High blood pressure
- Gestational diabetes
There is also an increased chance of:
- The baby being premature
- The baby having a low birth weight
- The baby having an awkward birth position
- Needing a C-section
You also have an increased chance of your child having a chromosomal problem compared to younger women and because of this, genetic testing can be more important. Women in their 40s also have an increased risk of miscarriage.