Later motherhood, on the rise

later motherhood, on the rise More and more people postpone having children until later in life.

The decision to have a baby has become more and more difficult to make. A growing number of families give up having children altogether or decide to have them later on in their lives. According to the latest data made public by the European Statistics Institute Eurostat, in 2017 the average age at which women in the European Union have their first child was 29, with the youngest ages, 26.5 years, reported in Bulgaria and Romania. Apparently Romanian women are following the lead of Western European families, and couples want fewer children and later in life. People are more concerned with personal happiness. In recent years, profession has started to become increasingly important in women's lives. They are more interested in studying, in moving up in their career, and this turns family life into a smaller priority.

On the other hand, experts warn that later pregnancy entails a number of risks. Stefania Mircea, a project coordinator with Save the Children Organisation, explains:

"It's a recent trend, whereby having the first child is pushed until after the age of 30. Men and women become parents a lot later than previous generations used to. The reasons for this are numerous, and they have to do primarily with the growing financial and professional pressures. Sometimes, the consequences are not trivial, going as far as the impossibility of pregnancy. But there are many other risks as well: miscarriage, genetic anomalies of the foetus, gestational diabetes, premature birth, difficult childbirth or even death at childbirth. The general consensus is that a woman reaches maximum fertility around the age of 25."

But in spite of the increase in the average motherhood age, Romania still faces serious problems, particularly in vulnerable communities. The European survey also reveals that the highest percentage of teenage motherhood (mothers under the age of 20) was also reported in Romania and Bulgaria in 2017, namely 13.9% of the total number of first-time mothers. Romania is at the top of the list of EU countries by number of underage mothers.

According to the latest report by the Save the Children Organisation, 5 in 10 mothers under 18 have never been to a specialised check-up, which led to a 4-times higher rate of premature births. Stefania Mircea tells us more:

"The issue of the teenage mothers still is an alarming one in Romania, given that the infant mortality rate is almost three times higher than in the case of adult mothers with official access to proper healthcare assistance. According to a survey published by the National Statistics Institute earlier this year, the infant mortality rate in the case of mothers under 15 was 17.3 per 1,000 live births in 2017, whereas the average nationwide rate stood at 6.7 per 1,000 live births. For the 15-19 age bracket, in 2017, the infant mortality rate saw a higher percentage compared with the average rate countrywide, namely 10.5 per 1,000 live births. According to the most recent statistics, 742 teenagers younger than 15 became mothers in 2017, while 18,938 live births were reported for teenagers aged between 15 and 19."

For quite a few years now, the Save the Children Organistion has been running programmes supporting Romania's vulnerable communities, Stefania Mircea has told us:

"We have been supporting these families by providing the proper medical treatment and everything related to the educational component. We have created a network to support social inclusion and combat poverty, providing integrated medical, social and educational services at local level. We work in 14 counties and we have noted an improvement. We have local teams offering assistance to around 7,500 people, including children younger than 5 years of age, young mothers and pregnant teenagers.  As a result of our intervention, more than 30 % of the pregnant women in these communities had gynaecological check-ups during pregnancy, the children and pregnant women we provide assistance to have started to see their family physicians or some registered with a family physician, services they had not benefitted from before because they were either not aware that such services were available or because it was difficult for them to reach the doctor's surgery."

The emancipation of women, the intensification of migration, the growing demands of raising and educating children and the lack of family policies are some of the causes leading to lower birth rates in Romania. According to statistics, Romania's population is decreasing at an alarmingly fast pace. 2018 saw the lowest number of live births in the last fifty years, as only 173,900 children were born. Young Romanians leave the country each year in search of better living conditions. In ten years, from 2007 to 2017, 3.4 million people left Romania, which accounts to approximately 17% of the country's population.
Publicat: 2019-04-03 12:57:00
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