Each phase of life comes with challenges and opportunities that will make finding the perfect time to expand your family easier than ever.
Teenage pregnancy and motherhood is an age old concept. Underdeveloped countries and tribal societies, as well as some modern traditional cultures, still promote the practice as a way of life.
High mortality in infants and children, and the prevalence of disease and injury in adults, effects how well teenage motherhood is accepted in any given social sphere. But in the developed world, the advent of the nuclear family means teens likely don't have the social structure that allows them to be attentive and effective parents.
Plus, teens will need to complete higher education to make a decent living, so they can provide for themselves and their children independently.
Teens today need lots of help from their families when pregnancies occur, or likely find themselves chronically impoverished and struggling to keep up. Communal societies, such as large spiritual communities, can support teens who choose to marry and procreate so their kids are literally raised by a village.
Having kids in your twenties means you will likely need to take time out from climbing the career ladder to focus on your family. Working, continuing your education, and raising children can be done. One or more areas of your life will likely get left behind, however, and it's probably your self-care that will suffer.
Things can be made easier if your partner can carry the financial load or help around the house. Or, if you can, recruit a large family network to help ease the burden of your changing lifestyle. You can make motherhood a reality with the support of a loving husband, empathetic employer and willing babysitters.
When bearing children is left until your thirties, you are more likely to be established in your career, financially secure, emotionally mature and have security in your home life. You may have more options available to you as far as choosing to work or stay home, or allowing family and friends or professionals to care for your kids when you can't.
However, as you approach your late thirties you may begin to experience a drop in your fertility brought on by peri-menopause. If you have difficulty conceiving in the first 12 months on your own, you may want to consult a specialist.
Waiting until your forties to conceive has always been risky since menopause takes hold for most close to age 45. However, with the development of fertility drugs and procedures many women are able to carry their first pregnancies in their mid to late forties. But there are some serious concerns to consider when you give birth in middle age.
The risks for birth and genetic defects, such as Down's syndrome, are greatly increased the longer you wait to have kids. Additionally, there are higher risks to the mother before, during, and after birth.
Being well into a career at this point in your life, you may be able to care very well for your child regardless of your situation, and even take an extended break from your job if necessary.
Bearing a child later than your forties is possible, but unlikely. Women who have trouble conceiving or choose not to conceive until this late stage are naturally more at risk for female (breast and ovarian) cancers because key hormones may be imbalanced.
Adoption and fostering might be your best bet at this stage in your life. All children need love, whether they are biologically yours or not. Here, you may be closer to retirement or already retired and have lots of time and patience for your kids that younger moms may not.
In the end, a support network, financial stability, and emotional and physical safety need to be considered when you choose to bring a child into the world. When those things can be guaranteed regardless of unexpected life changes, you're on the right track to providing the safety net a child needs.
There's no perfect age to have a child, but when you're honest about what a child needs and how it will change your life, you can decide when the time is right for you.