Even though I’m only 21 years old, I’ve already been told several times that my biological clock is ticking.
Today, women have better access to birth control, more representation in different career fields and a stronger presence in politics than ever before. Despite this, one thing hasn’t changed. Women are still under constant pressure to have kids when they’re still very young.
Raising a child is no easy task, and with more women getting an education and having careers, the age women are expected to have children needs to change.
Over time, data has shown that women have been choosing to have children later in life. According to Statistics Canada, women in the 1970s, on average, had their first child at age 23.5. By 2011, the average rose to a record high of 28.5. Data for first-time mothers hasn’t been released since, but other research from Statistics Canada released in 2016 shows the average age women have children (meaning all childbirths, not just the first child) is 30.2 years old.
When females are born, they have between one and two million eggs, which naturally deplete over time. Even though a woman’s fertility peaks in her early 20s, that doesn’t mean she can’t still get pregnant well into her 30s.
There’s a lot of new technology today that allows women the option of having children later in life. Newer versions of oral contraceptive birth control even work to preserve women’s fertility and medical options like IVF (in vitro fertilization), as well as freezing eggs allow women to have healthy babies at an older age.
With all this in mind, we need to work towards defeating the idea that children are only an option for younger women. As much as the world has changed, there’s still a prominent understanding that women in their 20s are running out of time to have children.
Having kids has always been non-negotiable for me — I’ll find a way to have kids at some point. But I also have a lot of things I plan to do before that happens.
With my future including finishing my undergrad, potentially going to grad school and then working a couple of years to save money, I won’t be thinking about having kids for at least another 10 years — and that’s if everything goes according to plan.
Being in university, I’m surrounded by women who have similar goals and don’t plan on having children for several years. We need to stop perpetuating the myth that young women need to rush to have kids. We need to accept that, as women are becoming more likely to pursue a career, if they also want kids, they have the time to wait.
Shivani is The Journal’s Lifestyle Editor. She’s a fourth-year politics major.
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