Pregnancy in Your 20s, 30s and 40s

December 20, 2018 — Leave a comment

Today’s women have the luxury (can we call it a luxury, really?) of choosing when they begin their families.  Of course, this is not disregarding fertility issues that women (and men) of any age may face, but reasonably healthy parents can typically expect that they can build their families in their 20s, 30s or 40s.  Everyone always says that every woman and every pregnancy is different, and this is true.  But, there are things that you can plan to expect depending on what decade in life you are making your family.

Having a Baby in your 20s

Is it the right time?

It might be.  Biologically speaking, your body is primed and ready for pregnancy.  Conception is typically pretty easy in your 20s.  Most women will conceive within 2 months of trying.  Most medical risks are at the lowest points, including the risk of miscarriage, Downs syndrome, and other medical risks that lead to the need for a Cesarean.

Another positive to having children in your 20s is that you are still very youthful.  Things like feedings every 2 hours or chasing after an active toddler are much easier for a 20-something than a 30- or 40-something.

Financially speaking, 20-somethings may not be in as stable of footing as their 30- and 40-something counterparts.  But, the other side to this coin is that when the children are all raised and gone, you most likely have the health, the means and the ability to have a very active and fulfilled lifestyle.

Is it the wrong time?

It might be.  Although, parents in their 20s might be winning in the biology category, they probably aren’t in the financial column.  Many couples may be attending college or graduate school.  Or, they may be at the beginning stages of careers where money is tight, time off is a luxury they can’t afford, and daycare, formula and diapers are . . . well, dear God, no one mentioned how much these things are, right?!

Another thing to consider is what your friend-set is doing.  Are you in a group of other mommies-to-be or are your friends frequenting happy hour?  If your friend group is typically on the go, how will you feel when a sick child or lack of sitter prevents you from joining them?

Having a Baby in your 30s

Is it the right time?

It might be.  Your body can still hang – at least for the early part of your 30s – but your medical risks do start to increase, especially after 35.  Although, it might be a little harder to conceive than someone in their 20s, it shouldn’t be too bad.

The energy level is still pretty good in your 30s, too, but those active toddlers and feedings every 2 hours will definitely wear on you more now than in your 20s.

Parents in their 30s have typically finished their educations and have become at least somewhat established in their careers.  Financially speaking, they are usually a little more stable.  The daycare, diapers and formula become a little bit more manageable (but seriously, those things are way too expensive!).

What about your friend group?  Some of your friends might have done the early parenthood thing and some of them still might not be ready.  But, it’s a safe bet that most of them diving in to the parent pool right about now.  This makes for a ready-made support group, play-date group and a pool of resources for advice and babysitters. Win!

Is it the wrong time?

It might be.  To be honest, most of the characteristics we looked at point to your 30s being the right time for most.  But, we’ll hold to the adage that everyone is different, so there certainly may be reasons why your 30s is the wrong time for you.

Having a Baby in your 40s

Is it the right time?

It might be. Once upon a time, pregnancy this late in life was pretty rare, but we’re fortunate that lots of women in their 40s can choose to become parents now or whenever suits them.  The numbers of pregnant women in their 40s have drastically increased in the last few decades, as women have become a greater presence in the workforce and science and technology have allowed women to delay parenthood with too much cause for concern.  That said, if you haven’t yet joined the parenthood club yet, and it’s something that you want to do, it’s definitely time to get going.

Let’s be honest, the financials are probably as good as they’re ever going to be.  You’ve probably also watched many people around you build families.  You’ve learned what works and what doesn’t, so you’re well prepared for what to expect.

And most of the older parents I know tend to be wiser, calmer and more patient with their children, which are decidedly wonderful qualities to have when it comes to raising your children into well-adjusted adults.

And, what about the friends group.  Well, if your friends all had children in their younger years, they probably have kids that are looking for babysitting gigs right about now.  Win!

Is it the wrong time?

It might be.  Have you ever heard the saying about “having your cake and eating, too”?  Whenever this one is used, it never really works out to be a good thing.  In this case, it’s having that successful career AND having the perfect family all in good time.  Unfortunately, it doesn’t always work out for the best.

We as a society have accepted 40-somethings starting families as a pretty normal thing, but biology hasn’t quite gotten the message yet.  Women in their 40s have a much harder time conceiving since fertility rates have decreased significantly in the previous decade of their lives.  It isn’t impossible, though, and a healthy woman in her 40s can actually have an easy time sometimes. Her risk of complications with pregnancy, however, increases, as she has a higher chance of Cesarean, Downs, miscarriage and a number of other medical complications.  But, that doesn’t mean that a 40-something can’t have a perfectly healthy pregnancy.  It’s just something to consider.

And the friends group?  Well, a friend of mine told me the other day that she is so happy that she can go to Target by herself now and leave the children at home unsupervised.  Yes, it is liberating when they can fend for themselves.  And now when your friends are all getting together for that winery tour, you might find yourself supervising the preschool field trip to the zoo instead.

As a 40-year-old mom with a 2-year-old and a 12-year-old, I’ve definitely noticed that the toddler stage feels a little harder than it did a decade ago.  Maybe I just don’t remember the challenges a two-year-old throws at you.

When is the Right Time?

That’s really the beauty of it.  There is no right or wrong time.  Everyone is different with different goals, priorities and life circumstances.  Your family is what you make it – whenever you choose to make it.

 

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