Sponsored | Growing number of millennials opt to delay motherhood

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Careful planning remains key to ensure emotional and financial readiness for motherhood. Picture: Supplied
Careful planning remains key to ensure emotional and financial readiness for motherhood. Picture: Supplied

Growing numbers of millennial women — who are between 23 and 39 years old in 2020 — are choosing to start having children later in their lives. The average age of first-time mothers in many developed countries has risen to just over 30 this year.

Source: Eurostat, May 2020

Research indicates that more South African women are waiting longer, too.

According to a 2019 report by Statistics South Africa, the average recorded age for first time mothers in 2018 was close to 28 — higher than at any point in the last 20 years. 

“South African women want the freedom to start a family on their own timeline,” explains Karabo Ramookho, Strategic Retail Marketing Manager at Old Mutual, who believes this trend is a direct result of greater mobility presented by an open economy and improving opportunities for women in the workplace.

Although there is still plenty of room for improvement, the percentage of women in senior management roles in South Africa has inched up in recent years.

Old Mutual’s Illness Insurance, part of its new range of Personal Cover solutions, now includes an optional For Women Benefit that caters for medical support for women who opt for later parenthood

In 2018, the Grant Thornton ‘Women in Business’ survey reported that almost 29% of senior management roles were filled by women, up from 26% in 2014. 

But those who choose to get established in their careers before starting a family may find that becoming pregnant and giving birth at a later age can be more complex, biologically. It can also be significantly more expensive.

“Having children later may have many pros, including higher earning power, better job security and greater emotional maturity,” says Ramookho.

“But it’s also true that women over the age of 35 are more likely to need some form of medical help to fall pregnant and are at greater risk of pregnancy complications.

“Medical interventions can be distressing and costly and come as something of a shock if you aren’t financially and emotionally prepared.”

A woman’s peak reproductive years are in her 20s, which tend to coincide with the crucial building stage of her career.

From the age of 30, fertility starts to decline and continues to reduce at an increasing rate. 

At the same time, the rate of age-related pregnancy complications increases. For example, the risk of eclampsia — a rare but serious condition in which high blood pressure causes seizures in pregnancy, posing a threat to the health of mother and baby — is greater after 35.

Early and careful planning for the possibility of fertility issues or pregnancy conditions means you can reach more of your career and other goals without compromising your ability to become a mother at a later stage when you feel more prepared for it
Karabo Ramookho

The same goes for stillbirth. The good news is that medical science has made enormous gains in supporting women in this age range to fall pregnant and have healthy babies, making the notion that they need to choose between a career and a family increasingly out of date.

“All in all, women today have more choices — and this really ought to be celebrated,” says Ramookho.

“Early and careful planning for the possibility of fertility issues or pregnancy conditions means you can reach more of your career and other goals without compromising your ability to become a mother at a later stage when you feel more prepared for it.”

Old Mutual’s Illness Insurance, part of its new range of Personal Cover solutions, now includes an optional For Women Benefit that caters for medical support for women who opt for later parenthood.

This comprehensive benefit covers 15 illness events, such as fertility-related conditions and pregnancy complications, including endometriosis, eclampsia and stillbirth.

Ramookho believes many women will now also want to delay their pregnancy plans until the worst of the Covid-19 pandemic — with its very real health concerns and financial pressures — has passed.

Find out more about  personal cover built around your life from @OldMutualSA #PersonalCover or speak to your financial adviser.

Old Mutual Life Assurance Company (SA) Ltd is a licensed FSP.


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