Clare Murphy, Director of External Affairs at BPAS, said:
“Today’s birth statistics released by the ONS clearly show that the trends we’ve seen in recent years, of women having children later and fewer children overall, are here to stay. The total number of births has continued to fall, with Wales seeing the lowest total fertility rate (TFR) since records began, and England seeing record low fertility rates among women under 30. The average age of motherhood has also continued to increase steadily: women over 40 were the only group for whom the fertility rate increased.
“In many ways these figures tell a story of success. The increasing age of motherhood is a reflection of improved gender parity, especially greater female participation in both higher education and the workplace. However, financial factors also weigh heavily on family planning decisions. The job market has never been more precarious, and we know the current crisis has hit women’s employment particularly hard. As a result we may well see these trends continue into the future as women and couples choose to delay having children until they are financially stable.
“There is no ‘right time’ to have a child, and no ‘right number’ of children to have. Women and their partners must be supported to make decisions according to their own circumstances to achieve the families they want. Clear action is needed to shore up support for those who do decide to have children, including affordable childcare, comprehensive maternity support in the workplace, and especially fair access to fertility services. With women having children later, it’s never been more crucial to end the IVF postcode lottery and ensure that all women have access to three funded IVF cycles as recommended by NICE, wherever they live.”
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bpas is a charity which sees almost 100,000 women a year for reproductive healthcare services including pregnancy counselling, abortion care, miscarriage management and contraception, at clinics across the UK. It supports and advocates for reproductive choice. BPAS also runs the Centre for Reproductive Research and Communication, which seeks to develop and deliver a research agenda that furthers women’s access to evidence-based reproductive healthcare, driven by an understanding of women’s perspectives and needs. You can find out more here: https://www.bpas.org/get-involved/centre-for-reproductive-research-communication/