ABC 15 News Special Report: New age for first-time moms
Conway, S.C. (WPDE) —
For the past three decades, the average age of first time mothers in the United States has been creeping up, slowly increasing from early 20s to late 20s.
But, for the first time, women in their 30s are having more babies than younger moms.
Amanda and Bryan Belesky say their pride and joy is their daughter, Brynn.
"Everybody tells you, you can try all you want to be ready, but you're never going to be totally ready," said Amanda Belesky, a first-time mom.
But, the Murrells Inlet couple says there was a lot on the 'to-do-list' before they even thought about having children, like finishing school and getting married.
They met while Amanda was in school to become a physician's assistant. They completed seven years of higher education schooling each.
"By the time you meet somebody and date for a couple of years, you're already pushing 30 by then," said Bryan.
In January, they welcomed Brynn into the world, becoming first-time parents. Bryan was 32 years old, and Amanda was 30.
"The majority of our friends are about our same age and we're one of the first to have kids, actually," said Amanda.
The Beleskys are taking part in a new trend in the United States.
The Centers for Disease Control recently released new numbers showing that, for the first time ever, more women in their 30s are becoming first-time moms than women in their 20s.
In 2016, the birth rate for women ages 30 to 34 was about 103 per 100,000; the rate for women ages 25 to 29 was 102 per 100,000.
"We definitely are seeing that trend here," said Dr. Jessica Brown with Magnolia OB/GYN in Myrtle Beach. "About five years ago, the amount of first time moms in their 30s in our practice was approximately 30 percent. And, over the last five years, our 2016 numbers are about 40 percent of our patients now."
But, what is behind the trend?
"I think a lot of it has to do with women achieving higher education, career advancement. We're really placing our careers ahead of child bearing in our twenties," said Dr. Brown.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, more than twice as many women are going to college now than 30 years ago.
"There are financial strains that, people in our age group have, that our parents didn't really have," said Amanda.
Americans are also choosing to get married later.
The Census Bureau reports since 1970, the median age for women to get married increased from around 21 years to 25 years; for men the increase was from 23 years to about 27 years.
"Most women in their 20s now I'm seeing are prioritizing contraception over child bearing," said Dr. Brown.
Doctor Brown says waiting until your early 30s is still a healthy time to conceive.
"Usually in your early 30s, that's a safe time to have a pregnancy," she said.
For the Beleskys, they never questioned the timing.
"Worked out really well! Eight years after graduating and married, and have a beautiful girl," said Bryan.
"My career is still important to me, but nothing will ever be as important to me as Brynn and my husband," said Amanda.
Doctor Brown says there are more potential complications for mother and child if a woman gets pregnant over the age of 35.
One of the complications could be an increased risk of chromosomal abnormalities, most commonly down syndrome.
She says it is always good to consult with your doctor if you are over 35 and thinking about pregnancy.