While biology remains a limiting factor in fertility, plenty of women have successful pregnancies after age 35. Advances in fertility treatments have helped many couples who struggle to conceive naturally achieve their dream of having a baby. These treatments have also made it possible for more women to delay adding to their families until they’re ready. In fact, if you’re starting a family later in life, you may enjoy some additional benefits as you enter motherhood.
You can’t put a price on the joy and happiness that children bring to life, but food, housing, medical, and other childcare expenses add up. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has been tracking the costs of raising a child since 1960. Based on the most recent data (and taking inflation into account), parents can expect to spend nearly $300,000 to raise a child through age 17.
Women in their 30s and beyond tend to have more time to become established in their careers, build their savings, and maybe even hit some financial milestones, like purchasing a house or paying off student debt.
Women really can have it all: an education, a career, and a family. Check out these fast facts about women in the workforce:
- Women make up 47% of the United States workforce overall, and 50.2% of the college-educated workforce.
- Nearly two-thirds of women with children under 18 work full-time.
- Rates of motherhood for women who have earned a bachelor’s degree and beyond are on the rise.
Women are an invaluable part of the workforce, but the office playing field still isn’t quite level. Despite women making up the majority of college-educated workers, the gender pay gap between men and women still exists – and it’s largely attributed to childbirth and maternity leave. There are even differences in lifetime earnings amongst women, depending on the age that they first became a mother. Research suggests that women who become a mother after age 31 earn more over the course of their lifetime than women who enter motherhood at a younger age.
To complete higher education, establish a career, and maximize lifetime earnings, it makes sense for many women to wait a little longer before starting a family. Women who have been working longer may also have more paid time off to cover maternity leave and caretaking responsibilities.
Research shows that mothers age 30 and older tend to worry less during pregnancy, are more positive about becoming a parent, and have more positive attitudes towards their children. They also appear to scold and physically discipline their children less. All of this contributes to a positive upbringing for their children. Research further suggests that the children of mothers aged 30 plus are less likely to have social, emotional, or behavioral problems.
Many couples find that their relationship changes after kids, especially during the newborn stage. You’re creating a new dynamic – the focus shifts from each other to caring for your new baby. You probably have much less time to spend alone together and very little availability to schedule regular date nights.
You’ve probably heard the saying: “The grass is greener where you water it.” Waiting to start a family gives you more time to nurture your relationship with your partner and build a strong foundation together.
Time to Complete Your Bucket List
Delaying motherhood gives you a little more time to check off a few of your bucket list items. Sure, you can still do most things once you have kids, but there’s no denying that some things are much easier when you’re only responsible for yourself. You also probably have a little more financial freedom before kids – family finances tend to shift towards practicality rather than pleasure.
Before spontaneity moves to the side to make way for security, take the opportunity to make impromptu weekend plans, throw a huge party, travel the world, treat yourself or your partner to an extravagant gift, or go skydiving – whatever makes your heart happy.
Everyone is on their own timeline – and nobody is wrong. It’s important that you feel prepared to start a family, and if that means you have children later in life, that’s okay. There is a multitude of benefits to entering motherhood in your mid-thirties and beyond. Biology still imposes limits though, so make sure you discuss your family-building plans with your healthcare provider.