Older mums the norm as women wait until their 30s to have a baby

Australian mums are getting older, a new report reveals. Women are putting off having children until later than ever before to get a head start at work, while the number of young mums dwindles.

A national report shows the average age of Aussie mums reached 30.1 in 2013, the data analysed from the 304,777 women who have given birth that year.

The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare report, Australia’s Mothers and Babies 2013 – in brief, found that one in five birthing women are now aged 35 and over. A third of all births are by caesarean delivery, with rates highest among older mothers.

The data shows the average age of first-time mums is 28.6 years and the proportion of new mums aged younger than 24 fell from 19 per cent to 17 per cent.

pregnant working mum

Institute spokeswoman Dr Fadwa Al-Yaman says women are wanting to establish their careers and lives before starting a family.

Melbourne mother-of-two Kathrin Jarred, 33, and her husband Dallas focused on work and travel before starting a family, for more than a decade after they first got together as a couple. They have a two-year-old son, Jimmy, and Mrs Jarred gave birth their second son, Henry, three weeks ago.

“Our generation has been brought up to think we can have it all (career and family),” she tells the Geelong Advertiser. “There are more opportunities now than in previous generations.”

The AIHW report also shows that fewer women now smoke during pregnancy – 12 per cent in 2013, down from 15 per cent in 2009.

“Tobacco smoking during pregnancy is the most common preventable risk factor for pregnancy complications, and is associated with poorer perinatal outcomes including low birthweight, pre-term birth and perinatal death,” Dr Al-Yaman says.

Smoking was more common among teenage mothers, mothers living in very remote areas, mothers living in the lowest socio-economic areas, and Indigenous mothers.

The AIHW is a major national agency set up by the Australian Government to provide reliable, regular and relevant information and statistics on Australia’s health and welfare.

Natalie Esler

Natalie is a Melbourne journalist and editor and loves her city's art, culture and restaurant offerings as much as a day at the footy with hot chips. Similarly, her toddler daughter spends equal amounts of time playing with toy trucks and trains as she does dolls and tea sets. Avid travellers, Natalie and her husband are always planning their next family adventure.

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