Addicted to novelty since 2001

Who’s Getting Pregnant?

Last night, my wife learned that one of her old friends is pregnant. That got me thinking about how few of our (mostly her) female friends are pregnant. We counted up 20 of her closest friends and family members aged 28 to 32, and got the following result:

Pregnant – 1
Has one child – 0
Has more than one child – 1
No kids – 16 18 (stupid math)

These women are all more or less the same, demographically. Mostly Caucasian, mostly university-educated, mostly employed in career jobs. I know that women are having babies older and older, but I was struck my this anecdotal data.

These women are outside the average, according to this page on Canadian motherhood:

The fertility rate is 1.5 children–meaning that current trends suggest that, on average, women will have 1.5 children over the course of their lives. The average age of first time mothers was 27.7 years, up from 24.4 in the mid 70s.

Of all the people I know under 40, only one of them has more than two kids. Keep those immigrants coming–somebody has to care for us when we’re old.

16 Responses to “Who’s Getting Pregnant?”

  1. -j.

    1+0+1+16=18. 2 of your subjects completely disappeared! Good thing that other one is having multiple kids, or Canada would be empty pretty soon.

  2. Chris

    I’m not surprised they fall outside the average – I doubt the average 28 year old woman is university educated and employed in a career related job.

    I’m sure this varies from province to province as well – women in BC likely have fewer children than, say, women in Quebec (higher catholic population) or women in Newfoundland.

    Also, this is just the average. The median number might be more useful in this situation. Remember, the average person has fewer than two legs :).

  3. Andrea

    In my group of university-educated, career-oriented female friends from BC, I’m pretty much alone in having a baby. There are maybe three women out of 20 or more. I know several other women who went to university and had kids before they really started a career. (Not included in above sample.) But, until recently, I knew few women who’ve had a serious career and then had children.

    Of course, now that I have a baby, I’m meeting all sorts of women with careers and babies. There are hundreds of them downtown. I don’t know where they were hiding before, but I was sure as heck surprised to meet them.

    But a 28-year-old with a baby is become a rare thing, regardless of career interest. The Globe recently reported that the early 30s are now the most common time for Canadian women to have babies. And I know a lot of late 30s women who are trying (unsuccessfully) to have babies…sadly, fertility drops a huge amount after 35, when is when most women have established their careers.

  4. Derek

    Seven or eight years ago, a huge cohort of my wife’s childhood and university friends—most university-educated, with solid professional jobs—started having kids in their mid- to late 20s. And she was one of them: our daughters are now 5 and 7, and we’re both 36.

    Oddly, none of my friends did the same, and only now are a few of them getting ready to have kids. What I found among our (meaning, my wife’s) friends is that many of them set up non-traditional (i.e. not just “mommy stays home”) care arrangements for their children.

    In our example, after my wife’s maternity leaves, I stayed home and worked part-time and then freelance while she remained as a full-time teacher. More recently, we’ve both moved to part-time permanent jobs as our kids move into the school years.

    For those people who are genuinely interested in having kids “someday”—and while I do know some people who never want kids, they aren’t the majority—I’d like to note that you can’t, and shouldn’t, put it off indefinitely.

    Not only is it more difficult (both for men and women) to conceive and have healthy children when you’re older, the time when children are a relentless demand on you is, relatively speaking, fairly short. By next year, both my daughters will be in school from 9 to 3 every weekday. So from 1998 to 2006, I will have been concerned primarily with day-to-day parenting tasks. Then your kids become more and more independent people (which has its own stresses, of course).

    The question, then, has to be: When is the best time in your life for the kids to take over, and your career (perhaps) to languish? And, more pointedly, do you want to be near retirement age before the last of your children grows up?

    Those were questions we asked ourselves when we decided to try (and succeeded in) having children in the mid’-’90s. The modern luxury is to have the choice at all.

  5. Derek

    Another interesting tidbit from the link you provided: on average, women have babies at an earlier age (27.7) than they get married (28.2). It would be interesting to see the breakdowns of how those numbers arise—Are women who marry older less likely ever to have children? What percentage of mothers are not married? And so on.

  6. donna

    My sister will be 11 when my parents retire. (They’re both retiring when my mom hits 55. Yeah, she’s the nut who had her first kid at 22, and her second at 44.)

    I can’t decide if I feel really sorry for her, or if she’s the luckiest kid in the world: They plan on doing a lot of travelling. Forget the cruddy field trips to Bear Creek Park… try a field trip to the Grand Canyon.

    On the other hand, being a teenager and having your parents home all the freaking time? Well, we’ll teach her how to use transit and she can come visit her big sister and bitch about how “Mom just doesn’t understand me!” Or something like that. :)

    Me? I’ve already made my choice, I’m not having kids. If my mom wants grandchildren, she can start convincing my sister now while she’s still young enough to mold.

  7. Jordan

    Here in Malaysia it’s quite different. Malay women, despite the fact that they marry a bit later now than before because of improved educational opportunities, tend to marry and have children earlier than the folks back home. The usual story is: finish university, marry almost immediately, and have a baby about nine months after the wedding. Even the educated ones will have 3-5 kids by their mid-30s. My wife and I don’t have children yet (after 4 yrs of marriage), and believe me, people are bugging her about it. I’d say 90% of her friends and former classmates are already married with at least one or two children. She’s 27.

  8. charlie

    i was recently shocked to hear that i have 4 friends that are hovering around 40 who are either having their first or second child.

    i had my kids around 30 and am glad i am young enough to keep up with them.

    my father was 40 when i was born. i’ve got a great history with him. but he’s likely to be long gone when my daughter gets married. it’s not just about the age of the parents, but the age of the grandparents – grandparents provide a lot of help and historical grounding for a family.

    and, parting comment, the more education a woman has, the less children she has and the later she has them. wanna reduce the birth rates in developing countries? give more schooling to the mothers.

  9. BB

    I’m not from your region and find these observations fascinating. I live in the Southeastern US, am 30, and in intending to remain childless, I feel very much in the minority. Three of my closest college friends have 2-3 kids each, two of my grad school friends had children while in the program, and my 28 year old best friend is recently married and very anxious to get pregnant. I expected fewer and later children (among classmates and colleagues, if not family), but that hasn’t been the case.

  10. Richgold

    Timely question. I just confirmed that I’m pregant again (my 4th, my husband’s 2nd – all planned and wanted).

    I’m a significant minority amongst my friends. Only four had planned to have children, two have so far succeeded. Most are child-free by choice.

    Having divorced the father of my two older children, my husband and I decided to extend our family. (I had always sworn that I did not want to be pregnant after 35¦ so much for that. I now see a couple of sides of the spectrum having had my first at 27, my last to be delivered when I am 37).

    Which, to me, brings up an interesting question¦ how many women (or men) in their procreating years who do divorce decide to extend and blend the family?

  11. Dean

    Between my wife and I, we have three. One (my daughter) lives 6 hours away: one (her daughter) lives with us half-time, and the third is ours.

    I know a number of people (not just women) who waited, and who are now having trouble getting pregnant. In fact, in our small circle of friends and aquaintances, we know one couple who may try fertility treatments, and one couple who have given up and will adopt.

  12. Rog

    Somehow, a small sampling of 20 people doesn’t seem very scientific. If I were to pose the same question to my friends, I know that the results would be different. I guess I just know more people with kids. That doesn’t say much though.

    Regardless, as you point out, statistically, our population is growing, not shrinking. Personally, I’d prefer shrinking.

  13. Chris

    I’d say that without immigration, our population would be stable / shrinking, but I”m not sure.

  14. Chris #2

    The average age of immigrants to Canada is only about one year younger than the average age of people born in Canada. Yes, really. They’re going to need senior care at the same time you will.

  15. Jen

    Hi, I am in Maine, but came across your site searching for the average age of pregnancy. I am 26 and my husband is 29, and we are thinking about having our 1st. My concern is I am too young, not really, I have always wanted kids before 30, but that seemed so far away, and now it’s here. Almost all of my friends have one child. Most are planning on only that one, because of finances. I know people with more children but are in early 30s. I always wanted 3. I guess if you only want one you could start at 30-35, but if you know you want more it seems like you should start earlier so your not retiring before they are out of the house! Did the planned pregnancys make you feel at all like you had to “grow up” too fast? Or is it just that I nanny full time, that is making me think I am too young???? Thanks

  16. Enedina Weiland

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