Why Do We Think There’s A Right Age To Become A Mum?

Sophie is five years younger than the UK's average first time mum - but does that matter? And is there really a 'right' time to become a mum?

Sophie Turner Is Allegedly Pregnant At 23 - What Is The 'Right' Age To Become A Mum?

by Rebecca Reid |

Sophie Turner and Joe Jonas have welcome their first child into the world, which is obviously very nice for them and everyone who knows them. But it’s also opened up an interesting discussion about when - if ever - it’s the right time to have a baby, given that Turner is five years younger than the average first time mum in the UK.

The internet is full of critics, so whether you have a baby at 45 a la Chloe Seveginy, or 19, a la Kylie Jenner, there will always be people who say you’ve done it ‘wrong’. But it is certainly fair to say that having children in your early twenties comes with associated draw-backs (as it does at any age).

Having children younger can impede the progression and development of your career - especially if you want to have multiple children and therefore a longer career break - which is often why women choose to wait until they’ve been promoted before starting a family. In some jobs - such as acting - being pregnant might make it harder or even impossible to work.

But starting younger has upsides, too. Much of the fertility advice that women are given focusses on starting younger, and it’s certainly true that it becomes more difficult to conceive as you get older, though according to the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecologists, age is a less significant risk until you reach your 30s, specifically after the age of 35.

Sophie Turner isn’t the only actor who has had a baby early in her career. Reese Witherspoon was 23 when she had her daughter, Ava. She’s spoken previously about the struggles that came with being a young mother, saying, ‘I’ve been a mom since 1999. I got pregnant (with daughter Ava) when I was 22. I delivered when I was 23. To be totally honest, it was scary. I was scared. I didn’t know what it was going to do to my job or my career’. She recounts balancing filming Election with being up at night, feeding and changing, saying, ‘Some nights Ava would wake up screaming because she had the flu and I would spend most of the night trying to rock her back to sleep and then have to be on the set at seven in the morning for make-up!’

However Witherspoon has also said that having her third child at the age of 37 was much harder than having her first two in her twenties.

Sophie Turner, Reese Witherspoon and Kylie Jenner aren’t exactly the average woman, though. Having money and support doesn’t make motherhood easy, but it’s pretty helpful in terms of balancing a career with a baby. But what about women who aren’t A Listers?

It definitely put my career back by a few years.

Alexandra, now 32, works in marketing. She had her daughter aged 22, a year after she finished university and started her first job. She tells Grazia: ‘I don’t regret anything because I have the most amazing daughter imaginable. Plus, I had loads of energy, so sleepless nights weren’t so bad. But I was the only one of my friends who was having kids, which meant that my social life was pretty non-existent, and I struggled to click with the women at NCT classes because we were about a decade apart in age. I felt like they were judging me - though I don’t know whether they actually were.

‘It definitely put my career back by a few years, and when everyone else was staying late or going for drinks after work, I had to do pick-up. I had another child two years ago, so I’m doing it for the second time while my friends are on their first, and so my career is taking a second hit. But for the years when my daughter was at school and I only had one, I felt like I’d done a bit of a life hack!’

‘Women should have kids whenever they feel ready, but I do think it’s hard to find your long-term partner before you’re 21, so having kids early might mean having a big age gap and starting again later in life.’

The expression ‘there’s no right time’ and ‘you’re never really ready’ are infuriating, because they’re coded ways of telling women that they shouldn’t expect baby making to fit around their lives. But there is an element of truth to them. At 23 you’re missing out on being young and free. At 33 you’re missing a key year in the building of your career. At 43 you’ve left it ‘late’ and you’re apparently ‘rolling the dice’ on your fertility.

Egg freezing, tissue transplants and various other scientific cures are offered as an option to make life easier, but at the moment the only options on offer are invasive, expensive and time consuming. And until that changes, it’s frustrating but true that there really isn’t a ‘right’ time.

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CREDIT: u00a9 Instagram/cherylofficial

Cheryl

After many months of rumours Cheryl announced her pregnancy 'subtly' in a group photo posted on Instagram.

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