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When to have first baby mostly a matter of personal choice

Child birth is no longer a game of chances as
Child birth is no longer a game of chances as was the case in the past. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

The age at which a woman gets her first child has important consequence for her fertility and health but also the welfare of the child.

Official data shows more Kenyan women prefer to get their first child after the age of 20, thanks to strides made in women empowerment.

The latest Kenya Demographic and Health Survey shows 65 percent of women start motherhood within 20 and 24 years.

This is the age at which most of them have completed secondary school and are looking to pursue tertiary education.

The data shows only 15 percent of Kenyan women aged 15 to 19 years have had their first child.

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Over the years, the age at which a woman gets her first child has been determined by where a woman is from, her professional life and family expectations

Prof Halimu Suleiman Shauri, a sociologist, says improvements in healthcare coupled with women empowerment are some of the contributors to today’s parenthood.

“Most of the women are realising they are not in this world for the sole purpose of bearing children but also to enjoy themselves,” he said.

Prof Shauri notes that the idea of getting a child is becoming more of a personal choice than a communal one as was the case traditionally.

Traditionally, the community attached a lot of premium on children and went as far as dictating the age at which a woman ought to have started bearing children.

“But Westernisation, globalisation and modernisation have brought to the fore the issue of gender empowerment, allowing women to enjoy a right to control their decisions in life,” he said.

With improved healthcare and technological advancement, a good number of women are getting babies past the age of 40.

The data shows that three percent of the women population has not had their first child between 40 and 44 years of age.

Improved healthcare has meant that older, rich women can now conceive through science and go through pregnancy under monitoring by good gynaecologists.

Child birth is no longer a game of chances as was the case in the past.

Aside from conceiving naturally, the 40-plus can opt for donor eggs or IVF — an assisted reproductive technology used for infertility treatment and gestational surrogacy.

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