Whether you're in your twenties and fashioning your own life while incubating a new one, in your thirties and more established in your career, or in your forties and just starting or completing your family, every age can be a good time to have a baby.
Each stage poses its own set of physical and emotional pros and cons that can influence everything from how smooth your pregnancy is likely to be to the impact a new baby will have on your relationship. There's no right time to have a baby—but there are simple steps you can take to stay happy and healthy at every age.
Your Body Now: "Physically, the twenties are the ideal time for pregnancy," says Dr. Peter Bernstein, MD, an OB-GYN at Montefiore Medical Center in New York City. That's because your body is primed to handle the demands of carrying a baby.
- You're at the lowest risk for pregnancy complications such as gestational diabetes, chronic hypertension, and preeclampsia.
- You're also less likely to have a baby with Down syndrome or with spina bifida. (At 25, your risk of having a baby with Down syndrome is one in 1,250. At 35, it's one in 378.)
- Caring for and keeping up with a baby may not be as taxing for a younger mother. "I definitely had more energy in my twenties than in my thirties and forties," says Dr. Diane Ross Glazer, PhD, a psychotherapist in Woodland Hills, California, who speaks from experience, having had a baby in each decade.
Your Mind Now: Your marriage is new, you're starting a career, and many of your pals don't have kids.
- "Get emotional support from other moms-to-be," says Shellie Fidell, a therapist at Women's Healthcare Partnership in St. Louis, Missouri. If you don't have any friends who are pregnant, bond with other expectant women online. It's a great way to get parenting tips and feel part of a like-minded community sharing the same focus.
- You're faced with juggling work and family before you've had time to get established. Do you forge ahead and try to do both or delay your career and/or education?
- A new baby can put stress on a young marriage. Be sure to spend time together sans baby by getting a babysitter occasionally or leaving your baby with relatives, so you can forge an identity as a couple.