Later, baby... why we delay motherhood
Sorry, Baby… only 4% of Australian women aged 18 to 44 see having a baby as their top priority in life, according to new research from Clearblue. And only 5% say that trying to conceive a baby is the most stressful event in their life.
Instead, the big issue is bills: being short of cash is the biggest concern for 48% of women surveyed in this age group, who said they feel most stressed about not being able to pay their bills.
Another 26% of women said that losing their job would be the most stressful event.
Money and job security issues are important for women and their partners when considering parenthood, says Clearblue.
‘It’s significant and surprising that the Clearblue study shows that having a baby is not a top life priority for Australian women in the fertile age group,’ says Professor William Ledger, head and Professor of Obstetrics and Gynaecology at UNSW.
‘This result reflects current social trends that show that Australian women are, on average, making the decision to start their family at a later age than ever before.’
The majority of Australian women – 70% - say they know of at least one person in their circle who has had difficulty conceiving.
Among women trying to fall pregnant, almost half (49%) have experienced difficulty.
The study shows that in Australia there are more than twice as many women trying to conceive (450,000) as are pregnant (190,000).
‘But women should be aware of the impact of delaying starting a family,’ William says.
‘Not only can waiting to have a baby beyond their early 30s lead to difficulty in conceiving for many women, the Clearblue survey also shows the possible effects of waiting on relationship issues such as stress (78%) and sex being seen as a chore (53%).
‘Over half of the respondents went as far as to say that trying for a baby would take over their life.’
Despite the trend in delaying having children, the findings show that Australian women mostly do want to have children in their lives (70%) – the issue is making sure the time is right for them.
Nine in 10 women could see the benefits of having children early in life, but these reasons were outweighed by the reasons for delaying motherhood, the survey found:
- 74% needed to feel financially secure;
- 59% wanted to wait until they were in a loving, long-term relationship; and
- 51% wanted time to travel and fulfil life experiences before settling down to have kids.
Timing it right
While women may not be stressed about having a baby, 58% are unaware that the best time to conceive is the day before and the day of ovulation.
There’s also uncertainty about the time it takes the average woman to fall pregnant. 39% believe that it takes 3 – 9 months on average, but 27% wouldn’t expect it to take so long, and 24% have no idea!
However, Australian women are at least better than their British counterparts in terms of knowing their menstrual cycle: 69% of Australian women knew the date of their last period, compared to 46% of British women.
‘Despite a general understanding of the ovulation cycle, women still have a low awareness about the details surrounding how to get pregnant,’ William says.
‘One in 2 couples planning a pregnancy are trying to conceive at the wrong time, hampering their chances of success.’
The majority of women – 86% - would be likely to consult a doctor or gynaecologist if they had a question about fertility, the survey found.
Online sources (46%) are more likely to be consulted than women’s own mothers (32%) about fertility queries; and women would be more likely to consult a friend about a fertility issue than a pharmacist.
The survey was conducted online among a representative sample of Australian women aged 18 to 44 by Galaxy Research.