Is there a right age to give birth?
We've come a long way in just 50 short years. In 1965, the Republic of Singapore was founded and there were 55,725 live births. Fast forward 51 years to 2016, and the number of live births has fallen dramatically, with just 41,251 babies being born that year. (Source)
This difference is all the more jarring considering the fact that the Singapore population numbered just 1.9 million in 1965, compared to 5.7 million in 2016. (Source) Back then, huge broods of seven or eight children were the norm. These days, with only 1.24 births per woman, children are a lot scarcer. (Source)
Couples are also getting married and women giving birth at a much later age than before. The median age of first-time mums has shot up, with the number of women giving birth in their 40s doubling over the past 30 years. (Source)
This is a natural corollary of living in a developed economy, where higher education is important for both men and women, and couples wish to be sure they can provide for their children before starting a family.
Gone are the days when couples would marry early and have as big a brood of kids as possible. These days, couples prefer to take their time and have kids only when they're ready.
Yet, there is pressure from the older generation to not wait until it is "too late".
What does this mean for aspiring parents who don't feel ready to have children just yet?
Should women give birth earlier or later?
There is no right or wrong answer when it comes to the age at which a woman should give birth. However, there are some factors to consider before making your decision.
1. Giving birth later enables couples to focus on achieving financial, emotional and career stability before bringing children into the world.
In high-cost Singapore, many couples choose to wait until they have completed their tertiary studies, found stable jobs and purchased a home before taking the plunge and having their first child. The emotional maturity that comes with age can also better equip couples to cope with the stress of childrearing.
2. Giving birth later can have negative implications for the mother and child's health.
For instance, a 40-year-old mum's risk of having a baby with Down syndrome is 10 times higher than if she were under the age of 30. There is also a 33% chance of suffering a miscarriage when the mother is over the age of 40. (Source)
3. Giving birth later means childbearing plans are more likely to get derailed by the unexpected.
For instance, a woman's risk of breast cancer, the most common cancer amongst women in Singapore, increases with age. Breast cancer treatments often result in temporary infertility or make it more difficult to conceive even when in remission. (Source)
No matter when you decide to conceive, it is always worth noting the above factors in order to make a more informed decision.
Tips for mothers
Whether you've decided to have kids as early as you can afford to or wait until you're more settled in life, here are some tips all families can benefit from.
1. Do proper family planning.
Deciding when to have children and how many should be a conscious choice that is planned for in advance. Your spouse might love you for your spontaneity, but this is not something you want to leave to chance! Proper planning enables you to ensure you are able to have a family of your ideal size when your bodies and finances permit. You will be able to predict ahead of time how much money will have to be set aside and, if you or your spouse envisage taking a break from work, to gauge the impact on your career.
2. Monitor your health and go for screenings regularly.
In order to have a child at some point in the future, you must take care of your health and ensure that any problems are identified and treated as early as possible. Regular, age-appropriate health screening is crucial, especially if you plan to have a child at a later age. Some insurance policies provide regular health screenings free of charge. Income's Lady 360 provides you with a tailored health screening every two years from your second policy anniversary onwards.
3. Get insured so you are protected should health problems befall you.
Nobody can predict when health emergencies will strike, but being prepared boosts your ability to start a family come what may. Other than basic medical insurance, you should also consider a female protection plan that offers benefits in the event of female-specific illness such as breast cancer. Income's Lady 360 insurance plan offers payouts should you be diagnosed with specific female illness or require specific female surgeries. This support enables you to get back on your feet and realise your dreams of starting a family even after a serious illness.
Every woman is different, and the age at which one is most physically able to have a child does not necessarily correspond with other factors such as finances and emotional maturity. No matter when in life you decide to become a parent, be sure to understand the risks involved and take steps to give yourself the best possible shot no matter the circumstances.
Did you know?
Income's Lady 360 insurance plan offers benefits for egg freezing before specific cancer treatment and a molecular gene expression profiling test to guide breast cancer treatment. Having a baby later on in life, even after an illness, is now a much greater possibility.
This article is meant purely for informational purposes and should not be relied upon as financial advice. The precise terms, conditions and exclusions of any Income products mentioned are specified in their respective policy contracts. For customised advice to suit your specific needs, consult an Income insurance advisor.
This advertisement has not been reviewed by the Monetary Authority of Singapore.