Birth rates have been falling in every age group in the United States except one: women in their 40's.
Why? Here are a few reasons that reflect the change.
Many women are not content to work only until they "settle down to start a family." This generation has been sold the "you can have it all" story and has worked to make it happen. When posed with the choice of family, or work, many are interested in pursuing work. They have earned their degrees, promotions, and salaries, and are looking to return to those responsibilities after having their baby. These are working moms, and they are sampling out what work-life-balance means now that there is a baby to consider.
This group of women has seen a considerable spike in divorce in the generation before them, and have statistically waited to marry. Finding a partner may have been a desire, but not one to rush into a contract as serious as marriage.
Women's fertility starts to decline in early 30’s, but more and more women can get pregnant into their 40's and 50's with the help of fertility treatment. IUI, IVF, donor eggs and sperm, and surrogacy are all a part of a broader discussion on starting a family. While infertility has always been a part of the human experience, now more and more people are talking about their struggles to get and stay pregnant. For women who know they would like to be a parent, they know there is help available.
But now that 40-year-old are becoming parents, how does that experience compare?
For those who have waited to have children, they may be in a more robust financial situation if they have children in their 40's. Having financial security can afford things like reliable childcare, tuition to preschools, or additional educational programs, and professional support in the early years, such as postpartum doulas, sleep experts, house cleaners, and classes.
Sleep will always be hard for parents. But this may be one area where younger parents have a bit more "bounce back" than those in their 40's. Or at least, they can make themselves they do. Babies, and more so, toddlers, take an enormous amount of attention and energy. Taking care of your self is even more important as you age, to cope with the long periods of stress, strain, and loss of sleep that come with a newborn.
Having a baby in your 40's means you may not have many close friends going through the same life experiences. With the majority of people having babies in their 20's and 30's, there is a larger likelihood of having support from others experiencing similar circumstances. If you are without this group of support organically, it is worthwhile to seek out classes, parks, and support groups that could allow for new friendships.