On Mother's Day, over 85 million women will celebrate their role as a loving parent to their child. But becoming a mother now isn't what it used to be. Today's women face different challenges and opportunities on the path to parenthood.
"Motherhood is an exciting step," explains Dr. Angie Beltsos of Fertility Centers of Illinois. "But modern women have a variety of elements to consider beforehand that their mothers or grandmothers did not. Factors such as being the breadwinner, caring for aging parents, weathering the recession and beating the biological clock come into play."
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Dr. Beltsos shares five ways that the approach to motherhood has changed:
1. Career Focus & Female Breadwinners
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 40% of American women are the breadwinners for their families. Women are focusing on their careers, excelling in the workplace, and working diligently to build financial stability before starting a family.
2. Trend of Older Motherhood
Halle Berry recently announced her new pregnancy -- at age 46. Later motherhood is a trend also illustrated through data from the National Center for Health Statistics. Current reports show that we now have the lowest ever fertility rate in the history of the United States, with birth rates declining among all age groups with the exception of women above 35. Data also shows that roughly 20 percent of U.S. women end their childbearing years without children.
3. Infertility Challenges
Women are at their most fertile in their early 20's, an age when many women have anything but babies on the brain. Fertility is finite, and with age, female fertility declines through diminished ovarian reserve, higher levels of miscarriage, and additional potential health complications during pregnancy. The average female egg supply begins to decline swiftly at age 35, precisely when many women are beginning to consider motherhood. Conception at a later age poses infertility challenges for some women.
4. Multiple Roles, One Woman
It is more common for women to juggle multiple roles -- mother, business executive, head of the household, and caretaker to aging parents. Other roles also enter the picture, such as wife, friend, cook, and soccer coach. With so much on one plate, entering motherhood now requires additional thought and planning.
5. Financial Barriers
The recession left many households in tough financial situations. The current generation is the first to be less well off than their parents were at their age. Plunging stocks, lost jobs, lowered real estate value and home foreclosure can force couples to delay family planning until they are in solid financial standing.