First time mothers are older than ever before, with more women delaying motherhood in order to further their careers. Would you do the same?
A study by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has revealed that in the US in 2014, the average age at which a women gave birth was 26.4. Back in the 2000s, the average age was 24.9. This increase is, at least in part, attributable to women deferring parenthood in order to focus on building their careers.
The government began tracking the age of new mothers in approximately 1970, when the average age was 21. This began to increase almost immediately after the US Supreme Court made abortion legal in 1973. Improvements in birth control and greater opportunities for women in the workplace have also contributed to the increase in age.
The average age of new mothers has, in fact, been climbing since records began. However, it has increased sharply over the past five years.
Dr John Stanelli, of Columbia University, says that women are choosing to stay in school longer and to enter the workforce. As such, they are waiting longer to get married and to have children. Women are thus choosing to forge a career and achieve financial stability prior to starting a family.
The average age of new mothers has risen not just in every racial and ethnic group, but in every state in the US too. The most noticeable increases since 2000 have been in black mothers and mothers living on the West Coast.
Yet, the highest average ages of new mothers are to be found in the North East of the United States. Massachusetts and the District of Columbia have average ages of around 29.
Freezing eggs to delay motherhood
In a 2014 poll of almost 1,000 women from Denmark and the UK, around 90 per cent of women said that they considered freezing their eggs an acceptable approach in order to focus upon their careers or simply to afford them a longer period in which to settle down with the right partner.
Oocyte cryopreservation – a technology in which a woman’s eggs are extracted, frozen and then stored – is now frequently used for precisely these career and social reasons.
A British doctor involved in the study believes that the practice is set to increasingly common.
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