"Yes, progenitors. Women with an enormous urge for children who consciously opt for motherhood at a young age. Women who let their hearts speak and give in to a primal passion. For who gets children first, with whom the child goes above all else. '
"Do they exist?"
"Yes, they exist, only you hear so little of them."
Young women of 20 - 25 years who consciously choose motherhood fall between shore and ship. There is plenty to do about and for teenage mothers and also the 'older mothers' are again in the news, but this group of young, conscious mothers is alone. Often literally only, as pennea.org quickly understood after a few interviews - reason enough for further research.
Conscious young mother
You are 21 years old and you have always had the image of you as a 'young mother'. You have finished your education and worked for a while, you have found a nice partner with whom you have your affairs in order and now you want a child. Strange? No, not at all strange and biologically very correct. But while you can shout it from the roofs of joy, you are reacted with restraint from your surroundings: you are still so young, you waste your future, you lose your freedom, are you happy?
Oudersenzzo.nl spoke with several women about their experience with motherhood at a young age and they all had the same experiences: many prejudices, little connection with other - most older - mothers and a change in the existing friendships.
There was even one mother who became completely faint of all prejudices about her pregnancy and eventually pretended that her pregnancy was unplanned. "I found it easier to pretend it was an accident, than to realize that I was knowingly pregnant. I was fed up with the eternal discussion and just wanted to enjoy my pregnancy. "
Too bad, because that was her joy masked.
Where do these prejudices come from and what would be the right age to have children? Initially, pennea.org wanted to pay attention to the issue of teenage mothers in an interactive report. However, recent data from the Central Bureau of Statistics showed that the number of teenage mothers in the Netherlands (in absolute numbers) is gradually decreasing - a positive development. On the same day that these figures became known, I read a press release from the CBS that stood out from the message of the teenage mothers: the average age at which women in the Netherlands expect their first child had increased again.
Against the flow
The average was still 28.6 years in 1995, ten years later the average age of these mothers was 29.4 years (2005) and the latest figures show that the average age at this moment is 29.7 years.
Whoever swims against the current, and who falls outside the graph, is an exception - mothers of the early twenties are the exception in our society. "It is difficult to find each other because we are so few," says Diana, 25 years and 33 weeks pregnant with her first child. 'I am the first in our circle of friends who is pregnant and my colleagues who are or have been pregnant are predominantly older and have a completely different lifestyle. I miss connection with my friends - they are working on very different things - but I also miss contact with pregnant peers. '
Practical biological data
Just a few practical details. If there is community at the right time, a young woman of 15 years with each cycle has a 40-50% chance of fertilization of an egg cell. At 25 years, this probability is 30 - 35%, at 35 years of age this risk will drop rapidly to 15 - 20% and a woman of 45 years will only have a 3 - 5% chance of fertilization per cycle.
Pure biological means that a 15-year-old adolescent is the most likely to get pregnant, it is not recommended for physical and social-emotional reasons to become pregnant at this age.
An age somewhere in the early twenties seems more obvious to get pregnant - about forty years ago (1970) it was indeed quite normal when you were expecting a child when you were 22 years old.
Nowadays the average age of the woman is 30 years at her first pregnancy, but also a woman of forty who is pregnant is no exception today (CBS). And if she unexpectedly experiences problems with getting pregnant, there are more and more possibilities in the field of fertility. It is only the question whether it is also wise to have children at a later age. A lot of research has been done into the chances, dangers and risks of motherhood in later life and through numerous reports, articles, publications, graphs and statistics published. These data do not lie, but why do women deliberately postpone their first pregnancy?
Partly thanks to the emancipation of women, there has been a shift in the average age at which women get their first child. With the campaign 'a smart girl is prepared for her future', the government launched an awareness process in the 1980s about equal opportunities in education and work for boys and girls. This was in itself a positive development: young women grew up with the image of completing a study first, then a nice job, and then later on the children will come, but how much later? What is the right time?
'The good moment', that is literally called the article that appeared on August 4, 2006 in Medisch Contact - the weekly magazine of the Royal Dutch Society for the Advancement of Medicine. 'A negative effect of emancipation is that women postpone their first pregnancy more and more often. This can lead to impaired fertility, undesirable childlessness, high-risk pregnancies and an increased risk of breast cancer, 'states Mw. Dr. C. Hilders, gynecologist at the Reinier de Graaf Group in Delft. In this article she not only explains in detail what risks exist for late motherhood, she also points out the importance of a healthy society, the importance of 'healthy, well educated and sufficiently large future generations'.
Meanwhile, gynecologists with the slogan 'A smart girl gets her child on time' tried to create a different idea.
That 'smart girl from then' now suddenly has a completely different message: get your first child on time!
A small group of young women seem to respond to this call, but the question is whether they did so because of rational considerations relating to risk factors and the demographic consequences, or whether they were led by a strong desire for children.
'That urge to children can suddenly become overwhelming, you just plunge into it without thinking about it,' says obstetrician Jacqueline, who herself had her first child with 25 years of awareness.
And who, by the way, determines what is 'on time'. As we have seen, being a mother is somewhere in the early twenties biologically correct, but not all women are already ready for motherhood.
They are often still busy with their education and / or career, sometimes have no fixed relationship, enjoy their freedom or have insufficient (financial) resources. The table below gives a good picture:
Despite all these arguments, getting pregnant at a young age also has benefits.
"Becoming a mother when you are in her early twenties should not be a challenge, but a matter of course, and the defense that you should constantly carry as a young mother should be the exception rather than the rule," said 20-year-old Esther, mother of a daughter of 2 and pregnant with her second child. Due to circumstances she did not start a higher professional education after her HAVO diploma, but she certainly intends to do so.
An undisturbed education
'When the children reach school age I pick up the thread again and I can follow a training course part-time undisturbed. Take all those teething problems, the first three years you roll from one disorder to another. I often hear from working mothers that they are completely stressed when they have to make a choice, for example between deliberately bringing their child to the day care center and an important meeting that is planned. This kind of stress is completely unknown to me, if my little one is sick, she can stay with me on the couch all day long! I just wait quietly for my time, follow that training later, as planned, then I can still do my thirtieth career. ' In doing so, she simply dismisses an important argument for postponing the pregnancy and continues: "I have chosen to become a mother in my best time, and that is now!" Despite this conviction, Esther often has the feeling that she has to prove herself as a young mother.
Even more benefits
Marielle is a separate case. With forty weeks she is on maternity leave at home from her job as a maternity nurse. Vadersenmoeders.nl let go of her from two points of view: questions to 'the maternity expert' and questions to the young expectant mother (see: The real young mothers).
Marielle personally believes that the child is more central in young maternity women; you taste, as it were, that it was born purely out of love from a strong desire to have children. In thirties, other considerations count and it is often more a matter of 'hurrying up'.
According to Marielle has been pregnant and gave birth at a young age in addition to preliminary benefits. 'Young maternity women usually look more open-mindedly for the delivery than maternity women 30+, who generally prepare well and therefore have more questions - and often more uncertainties.' Another big advantage is to grow with your child: when you as a woman far after your thirtieth a child you can already get into the transition, while your child is still full of puberty, an explosive combination. Mothers who expect their first child at a young age automatically grow up with them and are frank and free against this new experience: often everything goes naturally, things are taken for granted and there is not too much worrying or reasoning.
These findings are confirmed by Gonny Stoel, care coordinator at Yunio, the center for maternity care where Marielle works. An obstetrician from the University Midwifery Center in Utrecht also confirms this and adds: 'Biologically, people in their twenties are a lot more flexible than those in their thirties - they are comfortable, are flexible and therefore have an easier recovery. Apart from all the risks that women face in their first pregnancy at a later age, delivery is usually less rapid and pleasant than with a younger maternity nurse. ' She also indicates that people in their twenties with an attitude of 'we see' are also often more flexible mentally.
The real young mother
Every woman who is an early mother is popularly called 'young mother', but only around the age of twenty you really talk about young mothers. Vadersenmoeders.nl spoke with several of them and heard a few remarkable stories.
'I graduated during my pregnancy and I now work part-time in healthcare,' says Jacquelien, Milan's proud mother. She became consciously pregnant when she was nineteen years old and she gave birth to her first child last June. 'With 39 weeks I kept a presentation of my work - Milan was present at the graduation ceremony!'
This is an excellent example of a smart girl who is prepared for her future and for her first child. She is greatly supported by her partner and environment and nobody looked at it when she was pregnant: 'I have always wanted to be a mother and it came as no surprise to anyone. Occasionally I got the question if it was an accident but I was not with that. Getting pregnant and getting Milan is my best decision ever. "
First a training
Also Marije, now 25 years old and mother of Pelle (3,5) and Ninthe (1), first followed a training. In terms of work she could not quite find her turn and she also spent a difficult period in private. That was the moment when her deep-rooted desire for children, which had never been mentioned, suddenly came up. 'When I was still living at home, my mother was a babysitter. Thus I have always had a lot to do with small children and I knew a little what I could expect from motherhood - this has certainly sparked my desire to have children. My partner was completely behind me and in a short time I was pregnant. An unexpected miscarriage with 13 weeks suddenly increased the desire for parenthood. '
Marije's surroundings reacted surprised to her pregnancy and wondered how they were going to 'do it', as if she would do it differently than a mother of 35! She also got the question whether she was happy with it, whether it was an accident or even lost, do you like it?
"And that while we were completely happy and happy when I became pregnant again with Pelle - happy with the enormous positive twist on our lives!" Marije lives in a somewhat smaller municipality and lacks connection with peers who are also mothers. 'I was the first in our circle of friends to have a baby, and I am, for example, the youngest mother in the neighborhood and in the playgroup. I really miss a constituency, I do not have a babysitter behind me and I do everything alone. Most of the mothers I meet are indeed 30+ and have a completely different experience. For them, getting children is an addition to their often 'working' existence, while for me motherhood has become my life - my children go for everything. '
Because her friends are usually still busy with training, work and relationships, the contact with them has changed. 'I miss feeling with their life and vice versa with my own.' Marije regrets this somewhat but would not want to give up her life as a home mother of two children. 'Maybe they wonder what someone from 25 full-time at home does, but in my opinion I have a very busy job. I just did it all a bit differently and this seems to suit me very well, "she concludes with conviction.
As a teenager already a child wish
'I just had my birthday and I turned 25,' says Marielle, maternity nurse and forty weeks pregnant with her first child. "I had a childhood wish very young, as a teenager, so no one ever looked up when I was actually pregnant. I think it has also influenced my choice for the maternity care profession. '
Marielle has had a relationship with the father of her child for years and they married a while ago. 'Because we had everything on track - education, work, home, marriage - a child was the logical next step for us.' Marielle indicates that she will continue to work for financial security. 'Twenty years ago you could make a big hit together and get rid of a second mortgage, but for my generation that is not feasible in this expensive time. Working and then having children at a later age is not an option: if we want to keep it a little fun, then I have to make a living with it and still be there! '
Oerdrift, children's wish, but not pregnant, when, how, from whom, the advantages, the disadvantages, the risks. All difficult questions and issues that every woman gets on her path once.
The right moment? A child on time? Government and medical staff can inform us but we as women make the choice ourselves. No one can or may interfere - certainly not the surroundings of the expectant mother. Despite all kinds of factors that play a role - physical, biological, practical, financial and emotional - one thing may be clear: the child must be at the center, whether you are eighteen or forty.
pennea.org would like to thank all the women who have responded to the call for this report, and in particular those who have spoken so candidly through an interview.