A new European study advises women to wait until they’re 34 to have babies if they wish to optimize their happiness as parents. Of course, this is in stark contrast to the advice doctors have been doling out for decades that says you should try to have children before 35. Nothing like conflicting experts and a narrow 12-month window to take the pressure off of starting a family.
The study measured the happiness levels of about 7,000 participants before, during and after pregnancy and childbirth, and 34 turned out to be the magic year where having a child can bring you more happiness than not having one. Great! You know, if it applies to you.
Young parents between the ages of 18 and 22 appear to be markedly less happy during the pregnancy and even after the first year.
Of course, this all makes sense when you consider that the scientists looked at income, job security, health and relationship strength as factors in their happiness. When you’ve already got those components figured out, adding another human to the mix is more like adding a cherry on top of your ice-cream-sundae-shaped life. But whatever you do, don’t add three cherries. When it comes to subsequent children the team found that the first and second born are positive influences, but the third and beyond don’t add any more happiness, and often made parents even less happy. Finally, a win for the middle child.
Now, take all of this with a grain of salt because once you hit 35 you’re considered over-the-hill by obstetricians and your pregnancies are labelled as high-risk. Fun, right? That means more testing, increased risk for complications and a higher likelihood of a c-section. And, of course, there’s also the tiny, little detail of actually being able to conceive, which gets harder with each passing year.