An increasing number of Canadian women are choosing to tackle childbirth later in life, according to the latest data from Statistics Canada.
More than half of all live births in 2013 were to mothers between 30 and 49 years of age, up from 39.6 per cent in 1993.
One of the most notable increases revolved around women over 40. About 3.5 per cent of all live births in 2013 were to women between 40 and 49 years old. A decade prior, that number was 2.7 per cent. Two decades prior, it was 1.3 per cent.
Vanessa Sabourin, 39, is a mother of two. She had her first child, Wren, at the age of 35. Daughter Zadie arrived just a month ago.
“These girls have really given me an opportunity to learn a lot about myself and focus on making some changes … and taken me out of my own box, which I’m really grateful for,” she said.
Sabourin and her husband David collectively devote their time and energy to their girls.
“We’re sort of – more you need to be two-income households and everyone needs to have a job and that sometimes takes longer for women to maybe get to where they would like to be before they have kids,” she said Thursday.
In 1993, 60.4 per cent of births in Canada were to mothers younger than 30; by 2013 that number fell to 45.6 per cent.
Candis Ahmad, 33, is expecting her second child and works as a labour and delivery nurse.
“With reproductive technologies and the information we have out there, it’s given women the opportunity to make that choice for themselves and their families, instead of just having to choose between one or the other,” she told Global News.
Statistics Canada said the proportion of all first births to women between 30 and 49 years of age rose significantly between 1993 and 2013.
In fact, the percentage of first-time mothers between 35 and 39 doubled from 5.4 per cent in 1993 to 10.7 per cent in 2013. Mothers aged 40 to 49 increased their share of first-time births as well.
“My practice at this point, is probably about – 75 to 80 per cent of patients are going to be over the age of 30,” Dr. David Smithson told Global News.
Smithson is a specialist in reproductive endocrinology and infertility with the Pacific Centre for Reproductive Medicine in Edmonton.
He says the trend of Canadian women becoming mothers at an older age is one he is seeing on both the fertility and the obstetrical care side. While he anticipates the trend will continue, he cautions age is a number, but it is also a constant.
“Yes, there are certain situations where we’ll be able to overcome fertility conditions,” Smithson said. “But age is one that is not going to change, despite all our advances.”
Another standout portion of the release revolves around teen births. The percentage of live births to women younger than 20 fell from 6.1 per cent in 1993 to 3.1 per cent in 2013.
First births among mothers younger than 20 also decreased from 11.6 per cent in 1993 to six per cent in 2013.