In your 40s} You’re secure in your career, so steering your energy toward motherhood may be a welcome change. You might even want to quit your job or launch that business you’ve always dreamed of. But pulling back on work may threaten long-sought seniority or pension benefits, and if you decide to quit your job, finding a comparable one in a few years may not be easy.
In your 20s} Salaries at this age tend to be low, and you may be paying off student loans and saving for a house. Taking time off from work may be tough on your budget. “But where there’s a will, there’s a way,” Douglas says. “You become a master at shopping garage sales and thrift stores.”
In your 30s} You’ve increased your income, paid off some debt, maybe bought a house. Adding a baby to the mix will be expensive, but you’ll probably be able to manage it, and a leave of absence from work won’t break you.
In your 40s} Most people are financially secure enough that they can focus on motherhood rather than money. But older parents face a challenge, Nachamie says: “It’s very easy to become overindulgent—you have the money, you have the time, you’re focused on the kid more because you’ve already built your life and you want every moment to feel good.”
In your 20s} You’ll probably find it easy to make friends with lots of other new mothers, since the average age of new moms in the United States is 24 1/2. Your parents are less likely to be elderly and frail and may help with baby-sitting. Your marriage is fairly young, though, and you and your husband should anticipate that the demands of a baby will take away from time with each other.
In your 30s} Your parents may start to have health problems that you’ll have to juggle along with child care. On the flip side, your marriage is probably more ready for a baby, and many of your friends may be starting families, too.
In your 40s} You may not have much in common with old friends who had children earlier—and have little in common with younger new moms. “A lot of your friends may be taking their kids to the eighth-grade dance around the time you’re coming home from the hospital with a newborn,” Douglas says. “You may feel a little out of sync.” On the other hand, you’ve probably seen friends negotiate the challenges of motherhood and have learned what works and what doesn’t. And since more women are having children later now (see box at left), you may have more company than you expect.