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More Women In Their 40s Are Having Babies Than Ever Before

More women in their late thirties and early forties are having babies than ever before, but Australia's fertility rate is the lowest in almost two decades.

The fertility rate of Australian women aged 35 to 39 more than doubled over the past 30 years, while it tripled for women aged 40 to 44, according to data released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

On the flip side, teenage fertility rates have halved in this same period.

"This long-term decline in fertility of younger mums as well as the continued increase in fertility of older mums reflects a shift towards late childbearing," ABS director of demography Anthony Grubb said.

"Together, this has resulted in a median age of mothers and a fall in Australia's total fertility rate."

One person is born in Australia every one minute and 43 seconds, according to the ABS. Photo: Getty.

In fact, Australia's fertility rate for 2017 was the lowest its been since 2001, with a total of 309,142 births registered that year.

However, the numbers are still relatively low compared to women having children in the 25 to 29 and 30 to 34 age brackets.

READ MORE: What I Wish I Knew About Fertility Before I Turned 25

Anne Hollands of the Australian Institute of Family Studies told ABC Radio that it's reflective of a big cultural shift over the last few decades, where people are putting off starting families to achieve higher education and careers first.

"I think there is a greater consciousness now about that short window of opportunity that you've got, hence the higher numbers [of births] in the thirties," Hollands said.

"Young women and young men aren't thinking about having babies now until about thirty. Their twenties, they're doing other things. Then there's often a big rush to get on with it. We see often they'll try and buy a house if they can, or get some sort of employment security."

She said Australians, generally speaking, still like to get married before having a baby, but will often have a child "very quickly after that".

IVF is helping Australian women get pregnant later in life, but is not a fail-safe option. Photo: Getty.

Recently, an IVF clinic targeting women aged 22 to 37 launched an egg-freezing service for $5 per day.

READ MORE: Fertility Clinic Offers 'Pay As You Go' Egg Freezing

"Women need to be educated about their fertility window," said IVF specialist at X.Y.Life clinics, Dr Haider Najjar, in October.

"Too often I see women who are left getting pregnant too late because they didn't know about the decline of their egg reserves."

Contact the author: abrucesmith@networkten.com.au

Lead photo: Getty