The average age of first-time moms in many developed countries has risen to just over 30 this year. South African women are also waiting longer to have kids. According to a 2019 report by Statistics South Africa, the average recorded age for first-time mothers in 2018 was close to 28 — higher than at any point in the last 20 years.
Why women are having kids later
“South African women want the freedom to start a family on their own timeline,” says Karabo Ramookho, Strategic Retail Marketing Manager at Old Mutual. She believes this trend is a direct result of greater mobility presented by an open economy and improving opportunities for women in the workplace.
Although there’s still plenty of room for improvement, the percentage of women in senior management roles in South Africa has has increased from 26% in 2014 to almost 29%.
But women who choose to get established in their careers before starting a family may find that becoming pregnant and giving birth at a later age can be more complex, biologically. It can also be significantly more expensive.
“Having children later may have many pros, including higher earning power, better job security and greater emotional maturity,” says Karabo. “But it’s also true that women over the age of 35 are more likely to need some form of medical help to fall pregnant and are at a greater risk of pregnancy complications. Medical interventions can be distressing and costly and come as something of a shock if you aren’t financially and emotionally prepared.”
When is the best time to have kids?
According to healthline, experts say the best time to have kids is between your late 20s and early 30s. They say this age range is associated with the best outcome for both you and your baby.
Risks of having a baby after 30
- Age-related pregnancy complications increase. For example, the risk of eclampsia — a rare but serious condition in which high blood pressure causes seizures in pregnancy, posing a threat to the health of mother and baby — is greater after 35.
- The risk for stillbirth is also higher.
It’s not all bad news
The good news is that medical science has made enormous gains in supporting women over 30 to fall pregnant and have healthy babies.
“All in all, women today have more choices — and this really ought to be celebrated,” says Karabo. She adds that early and careful planning for the possibility of fertility issues or pregnancy conditions means you can reach more of your career and other goals without compromising your ability to become a mother at a later stage when you feel more prepared for it.
There’s even special insurance for moms who want to have kids later
Old Mutual’s Illness Insurance, part of its new range of Personal Cover solutions, now includes an optional ‘For Women Benefit’ that caters for medical support for women who opt to have kids later. This comprehensive benefit covers 15 illness events, such as fertility-related conditions and pregnancy complications, including endometriosis, eclampsia and stillbirth.
Karabo believes many women will now also want to delay their pregnancy plans until the worst of the COVID-19 pandemic — with its very real health concerns and financial pressures — has passed.
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