Many couples just starting out on their lifelong journey together want to start a family but feel they aren’t ready to take on the responsibilities of having children just yet. Sometimes they are still in college or have just taken on new professional jobs and would like to have the opportunity to gain some financial security before committing to the expenses (and pressures!) of having a family. Although they may spend hours discussing the best age to have a baby in terms of their lifestyle and the goals they hope to accomplish, they find there is no easy solution to the problem. There are so many things to consider when deciding how long to wait before having a baby which include not only financial stability, but emotional stability as well. In fact, there are a number of factors which can actually affect the best age to have a baby and each of them should be weighed carefully.
The Biological Clock
From a pure biological standpoint, a woman is most fertile in her twenties, while a man’s window of opportunity is best between the ages of 20 and perhaps his late 30’s. Although both a man and a women remain fertile after that, the number of risks to both mom and baby increase significantly after those magic years. Based on statistics, the best age to have a baby for a woman is roughly in her mid 20’s but any time between the ages of 24 and 34 seem to be some of the safest years for getting pregnant. After the age 35 the risk for birth defects starts to climb and once the women reaches the age of 40 there is even a greater risk of birth defects in the baby and health related complications for the women. By the time a woman nears 50, there is a 50% chance that she will not be able to carry the baby to term and/or deliver a child without genetic birth defects. If the male is over 40, each year after than increases the odds of birth defects in the child the woman is carrying.
From a Financial Perspective
Granted, most of us are more financially stable once we have received our degrees at university and enter the workforce on a professional level. Most often students graduate college by 22 or 23 years of age and then either continue on for an advanced degree or choose to get a job with a Bachelor’s degree. In either case, it takes a number of years to establish yourself in your profession. Oftentimes, people are well into their thirties before they have established any kind of job security with an income that can support a fledgling family. If you wait until this point, there are other things which must be considered such as your commitment to your career and civic or social activities in which you have become involved.
The Emotional Impact to Be Considered
Any time parents decide to have a baby there is always the potential for emotional upheaval. If you choose to have a baby too young and your finances are not in order, the stress level of making ends meet could have severe consequences for mom, dad and even baby. On the other hand, if you wait until you are financially stable, you may have become so involved in your day to day lives that adding a baby to the mix might mean a radical change in your lifestyle. Then, if you wait until your forties to have a baby you would need to consider the very real possibility of your waning energy levels as the child begins to grow. By the time that child is a teenager you are ready to start winding down toward retirement but your child is a healthy, active and highly social teenager! (And don’t forget he/she still has at least 4 years of college to go through!)
After all is said and done, the decision is still in your hands. If you feel that starting a family young is what would work best for you, there is no reason to let societal pressures affect your decisions. Yes, it is more socially acceptable to wait a bit before having children, but those well meaning people who are offering you advice aren’t privy to the inner workings of your relationship and the circumstances of your lives in general. Just keep in mind that anytime is the best age to have a baby if you are ready to face the challenges that go hand in hand with parenthood. Discuss with your partner what his or her goals are and then try to find a time that will fulfill both of your wants, needs and obligations. It may take some compromising on the part of both partners, but in working together you can agree on the best age to have a baby that works best for you.
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