Why I’m glad I had my child at 20

I fell pregnant with my daughter at the ripe old age of 20, and gave birth to my daughter exactly 1 month before my 21st birthday.

Now, there are lots of pros and cons to having your children at certain ages, and the topic is apparently the business of the (predominantly) old men running our country, resulting in drives to lower the amount of teen pregnancies – not necessarily a bad thing in itself, but the trends do show that women are starting to have babies after they’ve become settled in their careers.

The average age of first-time mothers in the UK in 2016 was 28.8 years old, with only 3.2% of mothers having their first child under the age of 20.

However, although these figures have dropped significantly, the stigma around being a young mum is by no means a new thing.

When I was 14, I took my 3 year old brother to the park, only to be spoken about by 2 older ladies in the most demeaning way. I took a lot of delight in correcting them, and thanking them for their snap (and completely, utterly wrong) judgements.

Pros:

  1. I can still keep up with my daughter. Yes, she runs me ragged 24/7, but it would be a lot harder if I was that bit older.
  2. I haven’t had to interrupt a career. The timing wasn’t ideal, me still being at uni, but I had Olivia before I had an established career as a barrister. If I’d had to take time off during my self-employment as a barrister, I’d be coming back to work at a disadvantage having not worked for 6 or 9 months, and not having any maternity pay! I also believe that if I hadn’t had Olivia when I did, I wouldn’t have children at all!
  3. I get to share all of my successes with her as we both grow older.
  4. You’re less likely to have fertility problems when you’re young. We weren’t really trying to get pregnant, but it was the first month of not being careful with contraception that we fell pregnant with Olivia! We women are ticking time bombs when it comes to our fertility…
  5. Pregnancy is lower risk under 35. At the age of 35 you are considered a geriatric mother, and, no matter how healthy the pregnancy, you’re considered higher risk and you’re then less likely to have the birth plan you wanted!

Cons:

  1. You don’t qualify to have a screening test for cervical cancer, despite there being a link between childbirth and an increased risk of cervical cancer. So, unless I paid privately for a screening, I would go 5 years post-birth without being tested.
  2. I don’t know if this is a normal experience for everyone, but when I first went to the GP I was asked if I was keeping it… I’m just speculating here, but I bet that doesn’t happen for women in their late 20s onwards!
  3. I am judged on a daily basis by those older than me, patronised and told what to do with my child. She’s my child, not yours. Butt out.
  4. Until I moved to Aldershot, I was the only one of my friends that had a child, and as lovely as those friends are, they just don’t get it sometimes.
Do you have any more you’d add to the lists? How old were you when you had your first child?

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Sarah Barber

I am well on my way to becoming a barrister, and hope that one day my little munchkin will follow in my footsteps! I'm also a wife to a Grenadier Guard dealing with army life, and I write letters to Olivia as well as writing for the amazing blog we run over at www.mummykind.com

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