Your early twenties probably seems way too early to be thinking about becoming a mom. But is it?
We can talk about education and career aspirations until we’re blue in the face, but marriage and babies? Off limits. Husbands and children are simply hindrances to the “more important” endeavors that we should be pursuing. In reality, we’re doing young women a huge disservice by quieting the conversation on motherhood.
Here's why you shouldn't wait until you're "ready" to become a mom to start thinking about motherhood. We need to start treating our personal lives with as much care and attention as we do our professional lives. And that means figuring out what we want and then taking the steps necessary to get there.
You don't go from zero to mom the second you decide you're ready. Are you married? Are you financially prepared? Do you have a plan about how to reconcile your work and home lives? These aren't questions we should be asking ourselves at the last minute. They're issues we can start addressing earlier rather than later.
A Good Man Can Be Hard To Find
Let's start with the obvious: It takes two to make a baby. And here’s something you're probably not being warned about: A good man can be hard to find. I know, you're used to being told to have fun, don't waste your early twenties on dating seriously! Save that for your late twenties or even early thirties! Right? Not so much.
Dating used to be about finding a husband; now it’s too often about having fun and hooking up. Unfortunately, when women eventually decide that they do want to get married, they find that it’s harder than just swiping right and clicking their heels together three times.
The earlier you start looking for a great guy, the more time you'll have to find one.
Husband (and father) material men aren't abundant these days – especially if you’re looking later in life. No, women don’t have an expiration date, but let’s face it – the earlier you start looking for a great guy, the more time you'll have to find one.
You Don't Want To Rush into Motherhood
Let's say you do spend the majority of your twenties having fun, dating casually, and hooking up. Now, all of a sudden, you're thirty and you're ready for a husband and kids. We already know that finding a good man isn't as easy as snapping your fingers. But let's say you meet a great guy right away.
You might still be rushing things. Do you want to rush into having children with a man you've only known for a year or two? Have you been able to learn enough about each other or spend enough solo couple time together to cement your relationship before throwing in the chaos and demands of parenting?
Your marriage – and ability to parent – may very well depend on having a strong foundation with your husband, and that isn't built overnight. Don't underestimate the importance of having some time alone as a couple before kids to really get to know your husband and enjoy his company. You won't regret it.
Motherhood and Career Can Be Compatible
Our refusal to acknowledge the challenges of motherhood means a lot of women aren't considering their desire for babies when considering a career. In reality, most moms work. You can be a mom and have a career. I know so many incredible women who gracefully juggle work and motherhood. Many of them even own their own businesses! There is the reality, though, that some kinds of work are simply far less compatible with motherhood.
Career paths like teaching, nursing, and freelance writing are more conducive to mom life.
Yes, you can do both. But when choosing a career path, think about whether or not it will be a barrier to your goals, if those include marriage and motherhood. Professions like teaching, nursing, and freelance writing are more conducive to mom life. Careers that require you to work long hours, travel frequently or spend many hours a day commuting are going to make balancing your home and work lives a lot more challenging.
It's not about abandoning your dreams or giving up on the career you've worked hard for. But there are choices everyone makes, and young women should at least be given a heads up before they dive into a career path how easy it will be to reconcile that job with their other life goals.
Fertility Declines in Your Thirties
Partially due to the silence on motherhood (and partially due to all the chatter about career), women are delaying childbearing until their thirties when fertility has already begun to decline. Here’s what they're leaving out: Your years of peak fertility are between your late teens and late twenties (although for obvious reasons, getting pregnant in your late teens is usually not a good plan). It’s far easier to conceive in your younger years. Between ages 20 and 30, your chance of getting pregnant each month is about 25%. That chance drops to below 10% after the age of 35.
The earlier you begin trying to have children, the earlier you may find out about potential obstacles to getting pregnant. I was 22 when I got married, and my husband and I wanted to start our family immediately. I discovered health issues early on, but was fortunately able to work with a NaPro fertility specialist to correct some hormonal imbalances and get pregnant.
Your chance of getting pregnant each month drops to below 10% after age 35.
Even if you’re not married and ready to have children, start learning more about your body and your fertility now. Chart your cycles, schedule an appointment with a fertility awareness method instructor, and learn about how you can improve and protect your reproductive health now. This will not only help you down the road when you do want to get pregnant, but it will also make you happier and healthier in the present.
Pregnancy Risks Increase with Age
A woman between the ages of 20 and 24 has about a 9% chance of suffering a miscarriage. That chance increases to nearly 75% for individuals over the age of 45.
6.1 stillbirths occur per every 1,000 pregnancies in women between the ages of 35 and 40 compared to 4.7 for women aged 18 to 34. Furthermore, the stillbirth rate is higher in women over the age of 35 who are having their first child.
The stillbirth rate is higher in women over the age of 35 who are having their first child.
This is not to say that women in their late thirties should avoid pregnancy. We should, however, be making such statistics more known so that young women can start making well-educated decisions earlier about when they'd like to begin having children.
First step, stop wasting time dating the “bad boys.” Be on the lookout for someone you could spend the rest of your life with from the get-go. You don’t necessarily have to get married and start your family immediately, but you 1) have the option to do so, or 2) have the opportunity to build a solid foundation before marriage and children. Much better than scrambling to find Mr. Right later!
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