Rotorua mum Paula Gold was 36 when she had her first child, John, 14 weeks ago.

With housing and cost of living pressures, Ms Gold and her partner, Roger Stoddart, decided working full-time and chipping away at the mortgage before having a baby was sensible.

"It was easier to start a little later and get ahead a bit, and be more financially stable," she said.

While some studies claim the biologically best time to have a child is the mid to late-20s, modern pressures and opportunities mean the age has shifted dramatically in one generation.


Until the early 1980s, the 20-24 age group was by far the most common age group for first births in New Zealand. Now, the age bracket ranks fourth, with those 30-34 responsible for the most births.

Ms Gold said the desire to travel and have careers were common reasons her friends and colleagues delayed having children. "For some of the younger girls at work, they think 'well, I have this degree now, I may as well use it before I get tied down with kids'."

The availability and advancements in fertility treatment also give women struggling to get pregnant some assurance, said Ms Gold.

But it wasn't all smooth sailing. The couple spent 16 months on the wait list for in vitro fertilisation, an experience Ms Gold said was a "rollercoaster".

"We obviously didn't choose to use fertility treatment. We had to do it," she said. "It's not the easiest way to have kids. It's an emotional journey." However, Ms Gold said the joy from being a mother far outweighs the difficulties, and they're planning to have another child.

"I'm pretty lucky. He's the cruisiest kid out," she said. "It's so neat to watch him change every day.

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"Going through IVF will be another journey, but that's all right. You look at them ... and think, 'oh well, that was all worth it in the end'."