According to the Office for National Statistics, the average age of mothers and fathers continues to rise: 55% of first-time mothers in 2017 were aged 30 and over, up from 43% in 1997; 69% of fathers were over 30, up from 60% in 1997. This trend is particularly pronounced among professionals, where the average age of mothers is between 31.7 and 33.5. Meanwhile, teen pregnancy rates have halved in the past decade.
Social media reinforces a sense of relentless perfectionism, with parent bloggers and Instamums driving the bar to unprecedented heights.
Having children in your 20s is a way of sticking two fingers up at this Bugaboo-pushing, #proudmama schtick. “I hate the whole ‘I was born to be a mum’ and ‘I was put on the planet to be a mum’ and ‘children are a gift’ thing,” says Cordal. “They’re not a gift, really. They’re just a product of life.” She is determined that Ari should fit into her life, not the other way around.
Becoming a parent young has its advantages, one of the most obvious being that you are literally built for it, from conception to chasing them round the park.
You could even take the view that, from a long-term perspective, having babies young might be better for your career than having them later. Presenter Kirstie Allsopp caused a stir a few years ago by telling young women to have kids first, and “do your career afterwards … If everyone started having children when they were 20, they’d be free as a bird by the time they were 45”.