• Sat, Dec 1 2012

Your Biological Clock Isn’t Ticking As Loud As You Think

Yay, everybody! A new study came out that confirms we’re not crazy for putting off childbearing until our thirties. So next time someone asks you the dreaded, “when are you having kids” question – tell them that you will be living longer because you decided to put off child-bearing, thank you very much.

There are many factors that define what the “best” age for having children is. According to John Mirowsky, a sociologist at the University of Texas at Austin, if you are referring to the biological best age to bear a child, the answer is the late teens to early twenties. This is when your eggs are freshest and your body bounces back easiest. But the sociological implications of having a baby that early are not great. At this age Mirowsky believes pregnancy is “more likely to happen out of wedlock, more likely to interfere with educational attainment, and more likely to crystallize a disadvantaged status.”

If you define “best” as best chance of health for the infant, the optimum age inches up to 26. This is apparently the age when the least birth defects are reported. If you are speaking to infant mortality, optimum age bumps up even more. A study based on national data pinned the optimum age for conceiving a child at 32.

But if you are defining the “best” age in terms of longest life expectancy of the mother, the optimum age is even older. Psychology Today reports:

Mirowsky conducted interviews with 1,890 mothers, asking about their current health, including chronic illnesses, mobility problems, and self-assessments of malaise and other problems. Then he looked at mortality data, made some adjustments for educational attainment, and concluded that the overall “best age” for a first child, in terms of long-term health and mortality for the mother, was 34. Social pressure that delays the beginning of parenthood, he wrote, “greatly outweighs the biodevelopmental advantages of youthful organs.”

For twentysomethings thinking about how to time their schooling, career advancement, and family building, he offered this advice: they can “reasonably expect optimal health outcomes from delaying motherhood into their thirties.”

It’s kind of perfect that the best age for childbearing for the mother is the oldest of all. I mean, people are always accusing women who put their careers first as being selfish, right? Well, it turns out we’ve found the fountain of youth – so suck it! Mirowsky told the Daily Mail, “A woman who had her first child at 34 is likely to be, in health terms, 14 years younger than a woman who gave birth at 18.”

Biological clock be damned! Your body may bounce back better, but I get to age like Sophia Loren. I think that’s fair.

(photo: Sana Design/ Shutterstock.com)

 

 

Share This Post:
  • Lol

    Wow, lots of aggression here. Are ppls comments really that bad for u old looking mamas?

    • Scarlette

      Not a mom, under 25… have to wonder if you didn’t make a poor decision and are lashing out?

      Old looking mom vs. 17 year old floozy. You pick. (No offense to the 17 year olds who became mothers, just defending older moms here.)

  • Andrea

    Um..I don’t think anyone would suggest that having children when you are married/partnered, financially established, and more mature ISN’T the best thing. I think when people look at “optimal” ages they look at it in terms of having a healthy pregnancy and baby. And regardless what study you may choose to read, it is pretty much a fact that the chances of getting pregnant after age 35 drop DRAMATICALLY.

    And I am not saying that doesn’t suck balls, because it DOES. It really is in your mid to late 30s when you are more likely to be in an established relationship, have a good career on you and thus probably be better off financially, and you are probably more able to handle a baby and parenting in general than a teen or a woman in her early 20s. But the sad reality is that while it is probably better all around to wait to have a baby, chance are you might not be able to do it once all the ducks line up. And it does suck balls, but it is what it is.

    Articles like this scare me.

  • meteor_echo

    When people ask me “When will you have kids?”, I usually reply with “When I get bored to death with my life”. Or, if they’re particularly aggressive, “When this planet runs out of jerks who ask this question”. Stops them riiiight there.

  • AL

    Glad to finally read an article that doesn’t make a woman in her thirties who hasn’t yet had children feel like a worthless failure.

  • Pregnant at 29

    I remember talking about kids and having them at work one day, a few weeks before my 28th birthday (just after I’d gotten married). I was telling one girl I work with that I’d like to have at least 3 kids (while laughing because I had no idea what pregnancy was like, raising kids is like, etc), and she told me that I’m cutting it really close! I need to get pregnant now, because soon I’ll be 35 and that’s much too old for a healthy baby! She didn’t understand why I was a little offended and dismissed her opinion. This is the same one who always spouted things about how much you have to give up when pregnant (like caffeine, alcohol, etc) because it’s bad for you and your babies healthy, but also that she loved being able to eat for two and would usually have something like chicken alfredo or pizza for lunch. Apparently an occasional cup of coffee will kill the baby, but gaining 80 pounds during pregnancy is totally ok, as long as you’re under 30.