The Best Age to Get Pregnant, According to Experts & Parents

Is there really a "right time" to get pregnant? Everyone who's had kids will probably give you a different answer—and that's a good thing. Read on to learn why becoming a parent can be amazing at any age.

Being able to create life is undeniably one of the most beautiful gifts this world has to offer, but it also comes with a very loud and constantly ticking clock. In fact, you'd be hard pressed to find someone who really wants kids and is not uncomfortably aware of their biological and physical limitations in the race against time. But while most individuals are in their fertile prime in their 20s, that decade is not an ideal time for many of us to tackle pregnancy and parenting. Some people aren't even ready in their early 30s. That's why most experts and parents agree that there is no perfect age to get pregnant.

"The younger you are, the less money and resources you have to take care of a child, but the earlier you are in your career, [which] supports maternity leave and time away for small children," says Wendy C. Goodall McDonald, M.D., an OB-GYN with Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago. "The older you are, the more money you have, but the more money it may take to pay for assistance in getting pregnant if needed." Not to mention that the older you get, the more likely you are to find yourself in the sandwich generation, simultaneously caring for both children and aging parents.

The best time for someone to get pregnant is when they're ready—physically, emotionally, mentally, and financially—and that varies enormously from person to person. To help you determine the age range in which it might be ideal for you to get pregnant, we asked a group of parents and health experts for their informed guidance. Read on to find out your perfect pregnancy age.

Smiling Pregnant Woman Touching Belly
Syda Productions/Shutterstock

Before you're 20

Obviously, having children in your teens is not an ideal scenario, but there's no denying that it's when your fertility peaks. "You are also likely to be at a lower weight, [which helps] decrease pregnancy complication risks like gestational diabetes and hypertension," says Dr. Goodall McDonald. Unfortunately, preeclampsia rates tend to be higher at this age (they rise again in your late 30s and early 40s). The financial concerns that come along with raising a child can also be very stressful.

At age 18, Phylicia I. from Atlanta was already married and pregnant, but she still had the mindset of a child. "I was extremely emotional and confused as to how to be a mom so young," she recalls, more than a decade later. "It's hard to be a parent when you still have a lot of growing up to do yourself." Phylicia calls her children "a gift from God," but she readily admits that everything would have been easier if she'd waited a few years, as she's more knowledgeable and patient now than she once was.

Age 20 to 24

Most people in this age range are very fertile, with women having about a 25% chance of getting pregnant every month. Finances may still be a burden, though, as most people in their early 20s are paying student loans, earning less, and socking away little, if any, money into their savings.

At age 20, Bianca D. was enrolled in college and pregnant with a daughter; at 25, she had a son. The Orlando mom was fortunate to have the support of friends and family, which allowed her to complete her degree. But as young as she was, even she noticed the difference a few years made.

"Pregnancy was much easier on my body the first time around, since I was a bit younger and more in shape," Bianca says. "By my second pregnancy, I had transitioned from my full-time career in the marketing industry to being an entrepreneur working from home, so I was less active and my life was more stressful." That pregnancy brought more complications and a longer recovery time, she adds, certain that there is no "right time" for a baby: "Whether it's planned or not, it won't ever be easy."

Age 25 to 29

Medically speaking, the odds of getting pregnant are now the same as they were in your early 20s, and the lifestyle pros and cons aren't much different either. But you do have more wisdom, and patience.

Krystal R., from Miami, Florida, decided to get pregnant right after getting married at age 27, despite the fact that others advised her to wait. "What people didn't know is that my husband and I had talked about this for years—it was something we wanted," she says. "I truly loved having my daughter at 27—I felt young, confident, full of energy, and ready to be the best mom I could be."

Madelyn M. had her first child at 28, and soon wanted to try for a second. "Growing up in a Hispanic family, I feel the pressure to have all of my kids before my mid-30s," says the Atlanta mom. "Society puts so much pressure on us, but I do agree that having children in your mid-20s allows you some flexibility and doesn't make you feel that you need to pop out babies one after the other."

Age 30 to 34

"Once you hit your 30s, particularly 35 and beyond, we do start seeing a diminution in fertility, but that's not an absolute," says Mary Jane Minkin, M.D., a clinical professor of obstetrics, gynecology, and reproductive sciences at Yale University. "If you are still quite busy with establishing a career, or haven't found the perfect partner, you shouldn't be pushed into getting pregnant just to have a child. However, you also need to take into account how many kids you want."

In terms of pros, getting pregnant in your early 30s gives you a significant amount of time to enjoy your young adult years, explore your career, and get to know yourself. That was definitely the case for Kelly M. from Suffern, New York, who had her first child at age 34. She agrees that there's something to be said for waiting until you're older. "I was definitely not ready for that type of commitment in my 20s when I still had so much I wanted to accomplish first," she explains.

Meghan E., from Richmond, Virginia, got pregnant when she was 32. Looking back, she says, it gave her enough time to establish her career and feel like she was on solid ground emotionally. "There's no doubt that even in the best pregnancies and [with the] easiest of babies, you still need to cut back on work, even temporarily," she reflects. "I put about four solid years into building a name for myself, as well as a solid base of loyal clients, which allowed me to take that step back when needed."

Meghan does acknowledge some drawbacks to getting pregnant in your 30s. "I knew we were only going to have one or two children so I didn't feel terribly rushed—but if someone does want to have more than a couple, or they are keen on spacing out children, then you would consider starting earlier."

Age 35 to 39

Fertility starts to decline substantially at 32, and speeds up at 37. The same goes for the success rates of those undergoing infertility treatments such as IVF, says Dr. Goodall McDonald. "Health risks also start to rise, like hypertension, diabetes in pregnancy, and preeclampsia, as well as rates of chromosomal abnormalities." Women in this age range should speak to their gynecologist about conceiving and consult with a reproductive endocrinology specialist after six months of trying.

Monica B. from Northport, New York, enjoyed having two children at age 35 and 37 because it gave her time to mature and become more financially stable. "Because of where I was in my career when I had my son, I had the experience and know-how to start my own consulting business so I could be my own boss and design my own hours, which I wouldn't have been able to do a few years earlier," she says. "I would say the one downside is that I seem to have several years on all the moms around me, which makes me feel somewhat disconnected. I'd still be invited to the moms' night out kind of things, but there was always something in our conversations that underscored the age gap."

Age 40 to 45

By age 40, a healthy person's chances of becoming pregnant every month are less than 5%. Medical risks are another issue: People over 40 have an increase in early pregnancy complications such as ectopic pregnancies and miscarriages, says Anate Brauer, M.D., the IVF director at Shady Grove Fertility in New York City. They are also more likely to suffer from preeclampsia, diabetes, placenta previa, low birth weight, and preterm labor, with a higher rate of fetal demise. The risks increase further when they have pre-existing conditions such as high blood pressure, diabetes, or obesity. People undergoing fertility treatments are more likely to get pregnant with multiples, which amplifies their risk.

Suzana S. from Astoria, New York, delivered her daughter a month before her 41st birthday—and says the timing was perfect for her. "I'm glad I had my daughter when I did because I had given myself many years to explore the meaning of my own life and define myself," she emphasizes. "Because of my life experiences, I know I can help my daughter sift through all the noise in her life to discover what is true and beautiful for her."

Considering the above, it seems there's really no right answer to the question, "When is the best age to get pregnant?" Biologically, the answer is probably your early 20s, but this journey is highly personal and everyone is different. The best approach is to do what feels right for you—whatever that may be.

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