Number of women starting a family after they turn 40 skyrockets
QUEENSLAND women are waiting until they feel ready for children, with the trend seeing soaring numbers of new mums in their 40s.
The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, which tracked births between 2003 and 2013, has found the number of mums over 40 increased by more than 1000 in the decade to 2013, with the age group showing the biggest upward trend in Queensland.
It was part of a shift throughout Australia to older motherhood with women over 35 surpassing the under-24 category for the first time – which, conversely, dropped by 2 per cent.
QUT late motherhood expert Karen Thorpe said an overriding sense of preparedness was ultimately holding women back. It comes amid social changes such as improved tertiary education for women, partnering later, financial pressures and improved reproductive technologies.
“We were talking about late motherhood as over 35 but now it is really over 40 because having babies in your late 30s has become so much more common in developed economies,” Professor Thorpe said. “Women generally are delaying having children, waiting in psychological and social terms until they feel ready emotionally and financially.”
Banyo’s Alison Gordon, who fell pregnant with her son Jackson one week after she turned 40, said that waiting until she had found the right partner and work life made her a better mother.
“It was definitely the right time. I don’t think I could have done it earlier and been the mum I am today and love it as much as I do,” said Ms Gordon, who now works in management part-time.
“I knew I always wanted children but the time was never right – I hadn’t met the right person, I had a fast-paced career. It’s not a matter of age, it’s purely when it’s right for that person.”
The AIHW report shows more women are congruently giving birth by caesarean section – rising to 33 per cent in 2013 – with women over 40 three times as likely as teenage mothers.
It also reflected a nationwide rise in antenatal care during the first trimester and a drop in smoking while pregnant, which fell to 12 per cent in 2013.