The pressure to be a Mom at 30

Et voila! Just like that, I’m 30!

My dad often told me that his 30’s were his favorite decade, which made me want them to be mine too. Very early on I started to imagine what my life would be like as an adult and so, with my favorite Barbie in hand, my 10-year-old self started planning for my 30s, no pressure!

The weekends were the best time to fantasize about the future. Luckily, my Barbie knew exactly what my beautiful life should be like: a huge mansion, a handsome Ken, a perfect baby girl, a fancy closet, a horse, a convertible car and a very nice camper. My imagination was unstoppable. However, after realizing that these specific dreams were just that, a fantasy, I realized that I actually only wanted a husband, a house and a few kids by the time I hit the big 30!

Today, I have a wonderful husband, a beautiful house, a furry cat, a challenging job, but no kids. Am I failing my plans? Am I failing my duty as a female? Am I betraying mine and my husband’s family? What about Barbie?…

The Pressure to be pregnant in your 30s

Being a childless 30-year-old woman isn’t always easy and in 2020 you would expect the pressures of being pregnant and having kids to have worn off. Big news, they haven’t. There is still a lot of outside pressure from society, the media, friends, family, colleagues, doctors and sometimes even strangers. Everyone has an opinion and they all think they can share it with you loud and free. Granted, these comments and questions are generally not made to hurt you – not intentionally anyway. Most of them usually come from the older generations who have a very traditional sense of a woman’s role in the family. It’s also possible that for some people, it’s expected that you have a baby because you’ve been with your Beau for a long time and you just got married, and this is the “logical” next step.

Although good-natured, these opinions and questions are intrusive and can be irritating and stressful. Imagine the frustration and pain felt when a woman is constantly asked when she’s going to have kids, when in fact she is desperate for them but is unable to conceive. Or, when a woman has no desire to have kids, because let’s be honest, most discussions around children revolve around “when” rather than “if”. What if your daughter, niece, sister or friend is simply happy with a dog?

Anyways, for what I’ve seen, the intense pressure often comes from the hopeful grandparents. They want to be young enough to enjoy their grandchildren, and they panic that time is running out for them. Fortunately for me, my parents and in-laws are pretty patient.

four brunette pregnant women standing together with their bumps and thumbs up showing pressure to non pregnant women

My Mom friends

My problem is actually more the indirect pressure coming from my pregnant/Mom friends. Going out with them is not fun anymore. At first everything is great but then the conversations hastily switch to baby and pregnancy talk. Now, don’t get me wrong, I love kids, but when you’re not pregnant these conversations quickly get boring, and even sad when they start asking when you will be getting pregnant. Very often, they make me want to pour myself a fifth glass of wine and talk to the plants.

It’s hard to be part of these conversations, not because you don’t want to be, but because you can’t since you don’t know what it’s like to be sleep deprived, or have very painful leaking boobs, or even because the stinkiest poop of your cat is nothing compared to what they have to clean every day. So you just isolate yourself and live your own life, which apparently they are no longer interested in. Or you hurry to get pregnant to belong in the club and enjoy your friends’ company again…

Sometimes I wonder how many people are actually only having children because of the pressure they feel from their family and friends. It’s like being pregnant gives you a certain social status or even more credit in society. No matter what you have accomplished, others seem not to see you as being successful until you tell them you’re expecting or you have kids. This societal pressure is inherent, passed on from generation to generation, and very difficult to ignore. But it should change.

Brunette woman with bun holding her newborn baby in her arms while sitting on the sofa

When are women having babies?

As of 2018, the average age of American women giving birth for the first time was 27. In 2000, it was 25 and in 1980, it was 22. The same trend is apparent on a global scale and in Germany, the average age for first-time pregnancies is 29.4, in England it’s 30, in France it’s 30.6 and in Japan it is 30.9[1].

In 2018, for the third consecutive year in the U.S., there were more women in their early 30s having babies than any other age. There were 100 births in 1,000 American women between 30 and 34 years old, 95 births in 1000 aged 25-29, and 68 births in 1000 aged 20-24[2].

In their early 20s, women are at peak fertility and have on average a 25-30% chance of getting pregnant every menstrual cycle. Their chances of getting pregnant within one year are around 96% if they try every month. At 30, a healthy and fertile woman has a 20% chance of conceiving during any given cycle.

Don’t get these numbers wrong: this doesn’t mean that 30-year-old women only have a 20% chance of getting pregnant in general; it means that 20 in 100 30-year-old women will become pregnant within one menstrual cycle. And chances of getting pregnant within a year are around 85%.

35 seems to be the point where fertility declines but it doesn’t mean it’s no longer possible. Between 35 and 39, most women still have a 15-18% chance of getting pregnant within a month, which represents a 78% chance of conceiving within a year[3].

This being said, other research[4] suggests slightly higher or lower figures. But if pregnancy later on in life is more common, why do we put pressure on over 30’s who don’t have kids? Why do we smile with compassion at the single 32-year-old woman? And why do we talk about medical miracles when a 37-year-old woman gives birth?

brunette woman after giving birth holding her new born baby daughter

30 is the new 20

Think about Meghan Markle, she was 37 while pregnant with baby Archie; or Eva Longoria was 42 while pregnant with her first son Santiago! And if you can’t relate to a celebrity because they are privileged and allegedly have access to very expensive doctors, listen to this: my mom, proudly belonging to the French working class and a huge fan of butter and cheese, had me – her first baby – when she was 29, my sister when she was 29 (11 months after me, hello fertility!), my first brother when she was 33 and my second brother when she was 36. And guess what? We were all big healthy babies!                

Write your own story

In most industrialized countries, delayed pregnancies become more common because societies have evolved. Women are no longer assigned to the role of stay-at-home Mom and wife. They can still be, of course, but they can also decide otherwise and plan their life accordingly.

During my 20s, I graduated from language school, started my career, restarted a different career, graduated from law school, moved back and forth across the Atlantic, got engaged, traveled to nine different countries, got married, immigrated to the U.S. and created a company. I blossomed and have never felt happier and more at peace with myself.

Now I’m 30 and have just recently reached the point in my life where I feel ready to be a Mom. Pregnancy is something I think about every day, and honestly I’m scared. I still have a thousand things I want to achieve in my life and I’m afraid the new leading role of Mother will slow me down. Also, the idea that I won’t be able to have children freaks me out, I’ve suddenly found myself desperate to know whether I’m fertile. Too much pressure!

There are many good reasons behind later pregnanciessuch as givingpriority to your career, becoming financially stable, fulfilling personal goals, travelling the world, finding ‘the one’, or not being ready. You may also have spent months or years trying to conceive, or you may have experienced multiple miscarriages before getting pregnant. And I’m sincerely sorry this happened to you.

It’s important to share your stories, and talking openly about your personal experiences empowers you and other women, and teaches people that sometimes later pregnancies happen because of reasons beyond our control. You may also have realized that you don’t want kids. Pregnancy is a personal choice so write your own story.

Ticking the baby box last, after you have completed the rest of your bucket list, is your right and shouldn’t be one that’s influenced by anyone else. Perhaps it’s time for us to free ourselves from all the guilt because today, being 30 and not a Mommy is completely okay.


Continue reading our blog series, our last blog is about bra history, and you can find it HERE>