'Worrying trend' as women leave motherhood for later


New figures reveal women over 40 in the UK are now having more babies than those under 20, and New Zealand appears to be following suit.

Christchurch mum Anna Heyes has just had her third baby at 40.

"I suppose because I've got two older children I see how fast they've grown, so I'm just appreciating every little moment with her."

She says being an older mum has its advantages.

"I'm a lot happier and calmer in myself, and just loving it really," Ms Heyes says.

"I'm probably enjoying it more than the older two because you know the ropes a bit more."

Ms Heyes is one of a growing number of women having babies later in life.

The rate of births in women over 40 in England and Wales has now overtaken teen births.

Data from the UK Office of National Statistics shows there were 15.2 births per 1000 women aged over 40 in 2015, compared with 14.5 per 1000 women in their teens.

Figures show New Zealand is following the trend, as pregnancies in older age groups soar.

Statistics New Zealand data reveals there were 15.7 births per 1000 women aged over 40 in 2015.

But although teen birth rates have halved in the past 25 years, they're still higher here at 18.7 per 1000.

Fertility Associates Chair Mary Birdsall says a third of the women she sees are over 40.

"I think women are leaving it later in life because they're busy with finding a great guy, making a great career, maybe affording a house in Auckland, so all of these other things kind of get in the way."

She says it's a worrying trend.

"Fertility really declines markedly as we get older and pregnancy complications increase. And certainly many women don't manage to have a baby just because they have left it too late."

But with more women choosing higher education and careers, and the rising cost of having children, the trend towards older motherhood is set to stay.