As more women hold off having their first child till after 40, we asked four women for their verdict on what they think the best age to have a baby is…
Being a mom in your 40’s
Lisa Lennkh, 47, is an investment banker turned style blogger. She lives with her husband Matthias, 47, and their son Alexandre, three.
Naively, I didn’t think about the best age to have a baby or give a second thought to my age even though I was 40. I’ve always been fit and healthy. But when Alexandre was laid on my chest, I wept tears of joy. I’d held back emotionally – after my struggle to have him.
I never wanted kids in my 20’s or 30’s. I’d seen what happened when working women became mothers. Either they dropped down the ladder, because they disappeared at 5 pm to do a nursery school run, or left their kids with nannies and never saw them.
I was happy to remain career focused and, although I had a few relationships, I never met the right person. But in 2008 I started dating Matthias, who wanted children. I began to feel differently about becoming a mom.
Is it high risk to have a baby late?
My first two pregnancies both ended in miscarriage before 12 weeks. Tests revealed that because of my age the quality of my eggs was declining. It caused chromosomal abnormalities in the babies I’d lost. I realised that a healthy lifestyle can’t stop your body from ageing.
We decided to have IVF and to my delight I became pregnant on my first cycle. Having glimpsed a future without a child of my own, I felt so overwhelmed with gratefulness when Alexandre was born.
Used to surviving on little sleep from my banking days, I coped well with a newborn and because of my age felt able to trust my maternal instincts.
My life now
I wanted to have a job that I could fit around Alexandre; so in 2014, I launched my own style blog.
When Alexandre was two, I fell pregnant naturally, but again miscarried. Now that I’m heading to 50, it feels too old to try again.
I feel sad he won’t have a sibling, but he has cousins and friends, which I hope compensates.
Being a mom in your 30’s
Company director Melanie Lawson, 43, lives with her husband Clive, 45, and their three children: Grace, 10; Oscar, 8; and Stella, 6.
Like a lot of women of my generation I was hyper-aware of my fertility, so knew I’d have to have my children close together. Very sadly my first pregnancy ended in miscarriage, but I became pregnant again soon after with Grace.
I had a senior job in advertising but went on maternity leave knowing I wouldn’t return – I wanted to be a full-time mom.
I’d seen female bosses juggling work and family life, and all the accompanying guilt, and I didn’t want that. If I’d still been in my 20’s, I would have felt pressure to return, but at 33 I felt I could step back.
Coping as a new mom
As smitten as we were with Grace, Clive and I were both in shock initially. The sleep deprivation and anxiety about what’s ‘normal’ was overwhelming and it took time to adjust.
And while I didn’t miss work, I did envy Clive having a life outside parenthood, and that put a strain on our relationship. We’d squabble about who was the most tired.
As the first of my peer group to have children, I didn’t really have any mom friends. A decade ago there weren’t as many classes for moms either, so I spent a lot of time alone with Grace.
When I was expecting Oscar, we moved to the coast. It was hard as I suffered from postnatal depression. Fortunately, it’s such a family-friendly city that I started going to moms’ groups and developed an amazing support network.
My life now
When Stella was one, I decided I’d been a full-time mom long enough. I set up a company in 2013 that sells fish-oil supplements. I’m in awe of friends who are starting families at my age, but I’m grateful I had Grace when I felt more confident in my abilities.
Being a mom in your 20’s
Primary school teacher Michelle Bainbridge, 46, lives with her husband David, 47, and their children: Ellie, 18; Edward, 16; and Rose, 13.
At 27, I was the first of my friends to have a baby. Even then, I was considered a ‘young mom’. Despite my age, I found pregnancy hard, suffering pre-eclampsia. Being young is no guarantee of a smooth nine months.
When I was six months pregnant I quit my job as a veterinary nurse. Luckily, we could afford to live off David’s income as a vet.
What it’s like to be a stay-at-home mom
After Ellie was born, despite having been convinced I was ready to wave goodbye to my child-free lifestyle, there were times when I envied my friends. They were still living in the city, clubbing and booking exotic holidays, while I was in the quiet suburbs with a young baby, going to mommy coffee mornings.
Thankfully, those feelings didn’t last long. I know full-time motherhood is not for everyone, but I found it fulfilling. I had two more kids and stayed at home for 10 years.
I didn’t find it hard to walk away from my career because I knew there’d be time to return once my children were older. I think it’s a bigger decision the older you get, when you are more senior at work and your child-free lifestyle is more entrenched.
Now as my kids have got older, my friends have started having families, but I don’t envy their pregnancies. I don’t think I’d have the energy for that stage at this age.
My life now
A few years ago, I went back to university, qualifying as a teacher, an ambition of mine since childhood. Last year, Ellie went off to university, while I started work as a teacher, and it was wonderful sharing those ‘firsts’ together.
Becoming a mom in my 20s was perfect for me, as it’s allowed me to have both full-time motherhood and not one, but two careers.
Being a teen mom
Alice Montgomery, 43, is a teaching assistant and lives with her husband Tony, 46. Their daughter Siobhan, 24, was conceived by accident three months after they met. They also have two sons: Peter, 22, and Alfie, 12.
In one year, my life changed. As an 18-year-old still living at home, the biggest decision I made was where to go clubbing with my friends. Having children was something for the distant future.
Then I fell pregnant and the following year I was living with Tony in a rental flat, with a tiny baby entirely reliant on me.
However, my youth meant I breezed through pregnancy and birth. I also had that teenage arrogance that I knew best, and I’d often ignore professional advice and follow my own instincts. Our parents were supportive but strangers were often disapproving.
Managing financially with a baby
Financially it was a struggle. Tony had a series of jobs and worked hard but in those early days, but his salary barely covered the essentials. Some nights we had to choose between buying food for us or nappies for Siobhan. Of course, we bought the nappies.
Lack of money put a strain on our relationship, especially as Tony and I were cooped up together every evening. There were a lot of arguments. At times I felt isolated and missed my old social life.
What kept Tony and me together? Love, and a feeling that we were in it together. And I adored being a mom.
Peter came along two years after Siobhan and we moved to a bigger flat. Then when I was 30, I had Alfie.
We were more established financially – I was working and Tony had a managerial job – but I felt more tired during the pregnancy and there were complications during the birth.
This time I read all the books and listened to everything the midwife said. In many ways, I was more responsible, but I also felt more anxious about doing the right thing.
My life now
After eight years as a full-time mom, I became a teaching assistant. I’m very close to Siobhan, who has a long-term partner, Anthony, and last year they had a little boy, Max.
I think that when Siobhan was a teenager the fact that I was so young meant she found it hard to accept my authority, but now we’re friends. And I love being a young granny. I am very hands-on with Max. Your teens probably aren’t the best age to have a baby, but I don’t regret it.
Has your adult child returned home to live with you? Here’s our top advice on Boomerang kids:
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DISCLAIMER: The testimonials presented on this website are applicable to the individuals depicted only and may not be representative of the experience of others. The information provided within this site is strictly for the purposes of information only and is not a replacement or substitute for professional advice.