It’s a well known fact that in recent decades more women are starting their families later in life. Whether that is due to lifestyle, career, fertility, or personal choice, currently in New Zealand more women give birth between the ages 30 to 34 than at any other age.
Back in the 60’s
In 1967, for every 2000 women in New Zealand in their 20s, there were 425 births. In 2017, the rate is almost a third of that figure – at just 149 births. For women in their 30s, the rate has increased slightly from 159 births per 2000 women in 1967 to 183 in 2017. So we’re not just starting later, we are also having less children.
The right time to start a family?
In 2015, a study by Oxford researchers considered the best age to start a family and reported that this mainly depended on how many children a couple wished to have. Unsurprisingly, the desire for more children means starting earlier before age-related fertility issues may have an adverse effect. The study published in the Oxford University Press journal, Human Reproduction, concluded:
The maximum female age at which couples should start a family for a 90% chance of realising the desired family size is: 32 for one child, 27 for two children and 23 for three children, without the assistance of IVF. With assistance, the ages increase to 35 for one child, 31 for two children and 28 for three children.
Of course, this is just the result of averages and there are many factors beyond a woman’s age that determine fertility rates. Research shows that infertility among couples is around 40 percent related to the female, 40 percent related to the male, and 20 percent unexplained. Requests for fertility assessments reportedly increased 20 per cent between 2013 and 2016.
Just as there can be a range of fertility factors, the right time to start a family may also be affected by personal circumstances, living environment, financial stability and other influences. So, although science may have suggested answers to the question, “when is the right time to start a family?”, it is obviously never that simple!
How old were you when you started your family? Or if you delayed starting a family, what were the reasons? Join the discussion in the comments below.
A side note: Less teenagers giving birth
After a high of 69 babies per 1000 women aged 15-19 in New Zealand in 1972, birth rates for teenage mums have almost continuously fallen to around 15 births per 1000 teens in 2017. Despite this, New Zealand still has one of the highest rates amongst OECD countries.
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