Financial pressures are forcing women to delay their dreams of motherhood, and many are discovering the odds are against them by the time they try for a baby, new research has warned.
American women have gradually pushed back the age at which they choose to become parents, with official figures from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention showing that women in their 30s are having more children than those in their 20s.
On average, women in the US are having their first child at age 28.
The figures are mirrored in the UK, where the number of older mothers has soared in recent decades, with the rate for women aged 35 to 39 years and 40-plus doubling since 1990, official figures show. And today, 54 percent of babies born in Britain are to women who are 30 or older.
Now, new research has revealed the biggest barriers to motherhood are economic, with three-quarters of women surveyed blaming their financial position.
This was ranked higher than problems finding the right partner, which 59 per cent of women blamed for having to delay motherhood.
The research, involving 1,000 women aged 18-45, was commissioned by The Stork, a clinically proven at-home conception aid which helps couples conceive.
All of the women questioned were hoping to become mothers, and more than half (56 percent) thought the ideal time to start a family was between the ages of 25 and 30.
Yet three-quarters admitted that parenthood would not be part of their plans until they were in their 30s.
Just over half (51 percent) said their plans will, or already have been, influenced by their career and just under half (44 percent) said housing is, or has been, an issue.
But women's health expert Dr Catherine Hood, a London-based NHS consultant in psychosexual medicine who has worked in the NHS for years helping couples to conceive, says many women are delaying motherhood only to find they then struggle to conceive.
Indeed, figures show that one in seven couples struggle to have children.
And while this can be for a variety of reasons affecting either partner – such as hormonal conditions or a low sperm count – Dr Hood believes women delaying motherhood is only compounding the situation.
'Sadly, women are learning the hard way that they cannot have it all,' she told DailyMail.com.
'When you are juggling the competing demands of finances, career, the demands of a loving relationship and your fertility, it's almost inevitable that something gets dropped.
'The truth is, fertility is often out of our control, and no amount of planning and preparation can detract from the fact that women's fertility begins to fall away sharply and men's fertility is not far behind.
'More frightening is the fact that figures from the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists show that in any given month, your chances of getting pregnant at the age of 30 are about 20 percent. At age 40, it's just five percent.'
She warns: 'Unfortunately, by the time they feel they are in a good position to become a parent, many women discover that nature may need a helping hand.'
Her comments come just days after actress Eva Longoria gave birth to her first child aged 43 – and as fellow actress Rachel Weisz prepares to become a mother again at the age of 48.
The British Fertility Society has previously warned that celebrities who have children in their 40s are giving women false hope about late motherhood.
Article: 26th June www.dailymail.com