In the US, about 4 million babies are born each year. Compared to women of generations past, women today are waiting longer to have babies, receiving more prenatal care, and having more cesarean deliveries.

Increased Age

In 1970, women, on average, had their first baby when they were 21.4 years old. By 2014, the average age increased to 26.3 years old.

While most births still occur in women in their 20s, women have been waiting longer to start their families. Since 2000, the number of women having their first baby at ages 30 and 35 years old has been steadily rising.

Not only are women putting off having their first baby, but births to teenage girls are also at lower levels. There has been a continuous drop in birth rates since 1991 (around 64%). In addition, new historic lows have been noted in the US every year since 2009.

How old you will be when you have your first child may be related to where you live. The age at which women have their firstborn varies by state.

Prenatal Care

Compared with their predecessors, women today are more likely to receive prenatal care, which is associated with healthier babies and fewer pregnancy-related complications. In 2011, about 73% of women received prenatal care in their first trimester.

Total Fertility Rate Down, More Boys than Girls

In 2014, the number of children a woman will give birth to over her lifetime was 1.9 children. There was a negligible raise in rates for nearly all races and Hispanic origin groups.

In 2014, for every 1,000 girls that are born, 1048 boys were born.

Cesarean Deliveries

The number of women having cesarean sections (C-sections) increased between 1996 and 2009. However, the rate has been declining ever since. Cesarean sections now account for about 32% of deliveries.

Preterm Deliveries

Data from 2014 found that the number of babies born preterm (before 37 weeks of gestation) has decreased to 9.6% of all births. There was also a small decrease in the percentage of low birth weight babies (accounting for 8.0%).


Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists


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Birth data. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Available at: Updated September 29, 2015. Accessed September 9, 2016.

Births: preliminary data for 2011. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. NVSR. 2012;61(5).

Delayed childbearing: more women are having their first child later in life. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Available at: Updated August 12, 2009. Accessed September 9, 2016.

Hamilton BE, Mathews TJ. Continued declines in teen births in the United States, 2015. NCHS Data Brief. 2016;(359):1-8.

Prenatal care utilization. Child Health USA 2013—Maternal and Child Health Bureau website. Available at: Updated 2013. Accessed September 9, 2016.

Last reviewed September 2016 by Andrea Chisholm, MD  Last Updated: 9/9/2016