Going Solo - Contemplating single motherhood?
Dr Lyuda Shkrobot
Compared with our mothers or grandmothers, the modern-day woman is more likely to be working, travelling, more educated and financially independent than ever before. As professionals in reproductive medicine, we’ve seen how these social trends are having a great impact on decisions surrounding motherhood.
Women are having children later – 43% of first-time mums in Australia are now over the age of 30, nearly double the rate in 1991. While you may not have made a conscious decision to delay having children, if you want to have them one day you will need a plan.
Why? Because time matters
Despite all these social changes, biological facts remain the same – a woman’s fertility decreases as she gets older. Women have much the same chance of falling pregnant per month until the age 35 and then fertility starts to fall dramatically. If at all possible, your 20’s and early 30’s are the optimal time to fall pregnant.
After the age of 40, things can sometimes be very difficult. I know it’s not fair but men’s age is not nearly as important as a woman’s when it comes to fertility. So, there are an increasing number of women deciding to go it alone and embark on single motherhood with the help of fertility treatments. Here are some of the reasons why:
Not Finding Mr Right
Unfortunately it’s not always possible to find Mr Right before your fertility declines. Whether this is because the right partner simply hasn’t come along or whether you were with Mr (I Thought You Were) Right, only to have the relationship breakdown, this may leave you reassessing your options.
Research shows the more educated a woman is, the more likely she is to delay having children. Women are continuing to stay in school longer and now outnumber men in higher education. After spending an average of four years at university, it’s only fair that you want a return on that investment. Working long hours to establish a successful career and stay competitive in the workforce often delays the decision to have children. However, this investment in education and career has resulted in many more women being financially independent and able to support a child on their own.
Changing Social Structures
Families come in more shapes and sizes than ever before. Whether its mother and baby or two mothers and baby, increased access to fertility treatment for social reasons has allowed women who do not have a medical cause for their infertility to start a family.
So what’s a financially secure, accomplished woman to do?
If you’re not quite ready to start a family, it’s now possible to freeze your eggs, and this is something worth considering if you’re in your late 20’s or early 30’s. Using your younger eggs will give you a much better chance of a successful pregnancy when you’re ready - whether you’re in a relationship then or not.
If you do want to have a baby now, Intrauterine Insemination (IUI) and In Vitro Fertilisation (IVF) using donor sperm are both possible options. Wherever you are on your journey towards starting a family, knowing and understanding all your options may give you the confidence to pursue single motherhood on your terms.