The average age of new mothers in the UK has risen to over 30, according to new data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS).
Mothers across the UK are increasingly giving birth later in life, according to new ONS data.
Nearly half of babies born in England and Wales – 49 per cent – in 2012 were to mothers aged 30 and over.
At the same time more than 60 per cent of women aged 35 to 45 in England say they feel stigmatised if they haven’t had children.
Increasing number of older mothers
In 1973, 135,255 babies were born to mothers over the age of 30 across England and Wales.
That number has been continually increasing since then and reached 361,033 in 2012.
This trend is mirrored in other parts of the UK.
In Scotland in 2012 there were 29,323 children born in hospitals to mothers over 30 years old, an increase of 3,809 from 2002.
In Northern Ireland the difference was 2,750 more babies compared to 10 years before.
Why women are having children later
In 2012 the average age of women having a first birth was 28.1 years old, compared with 27.9 in 2011 and 26.8 in 2002.
The ONS report says that women have been delaying having a child for a number of reasons.
- More women attending university.
- More women going to work with the increasing importance of a career.
- The rising costs of childrearing.
- The instability of partnerships.
Elizabeth Duff, senior policy adviser at charity the National Childbirth Trust (NCT), said: "These women are often fit and well.
"There is no reason the majority should not have a straightforward pregnancy and a healthy baby.
"There are many reasons for women choosing to have their children later in life.
"This includes parents waiting until they are best placed to welcome their baby into a financially stable family setting."
Feeling judged for not having a family
The Infertility Network UK says many women are affected socially by not having a family.
Its research found 60 per cent of women aged 35 to 45 in England feel judged for not having had children and many are not seeking help for infertility problems fast enough.
Family and friends are cited as the greatest sources of pressure on women to have children and about 40 per cent are too embarrassed to talk about fertility.
Clare Lewis-Jones is chief executive of Infertility Network UK.
She said: "Feelings of embarrassment and being judged are ultimately preventing some women seeking the help they need for their fertility problems.
"Women still consider up to two years a typical waiting period before seeing a GP about infertility, and alarmingly, a greater proportion of older females would wait even longer."
Getting financially prepared for a new family
Matthew Lloyd is head of life insurance at Confused.com.
He says: "The ONS report highlights a number of reasons why women may choose to delay starting a family and it’s not surprising that the rising cost of childrearing features within it.
"It’s sensible to consider your financial situation before starting a family and many new families are financially savvy.
"However, research has shown that only 20 per cent of families take out life insurance.
"Despite the financial pressures new parents face, I would urge them to find out more about life insurance and make sure their new families are properly protected."
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