I was working with lots of women before my son was born, almost two years ago. And being pregnant brought up lots of issues for the vast majority of these women. Hidden issues. I had been working with some of these women for many years, and these issues had never been discussed.
I am not sure if I want children
Women on very high salaries were not sure if they wanted to jeopardise their career by becoming a parent. There was a feeling that having a baby would have a negative impact on their career. One woman told me her friend had lost her job after she went part-time following the birth of her baby. That feels very harsh.
My partner isn't ready
Several women, including a couple of friends, shared with me how they really wanted to have children, but their partners were not ready for that level of responsibility. This was quite a dilemma for these women as they are acutely aware their age. Do they give their partners an ultimatum? Should they leave their partners and have children with someone else?
Time is running out
Women who were approaching 35 years old, and without children, felt very nervous about their fertility, as if when they reached 35 it would be impossible to have a child. That felt very stressful to these women.
I am 'too old' to have a child
One women was convinced she was too old to have a child at the age of 38 years old. Her husband, who is 59 years old, went to his corporate health check and was told they wouldn't be able to have children because his wife was 'too old'. The health check never mentioned his age as a negative factor in becoming a dad, when men's advancing years can have a negative impact on their fertility. That aside, what a terrible thing to say to someone, and not true. My friend is having her first baby next year, naturally conceived at 44 years old. Of course, as you get older it is less likely, but it isn't impossible. Some people I know can't have children at 27 years old.
We waited for the 'right time'
This is a sad one. Several women had waited until they felt it was the 'right time' financially for them to have children, only to find out they then weren't able to have them. What do you say in that situation? It is heartbreaking.
I find all of these issues heartbreaking. It makes you aware the pressure women can be under to do well in their careers. This can overshadow any focus on their personal life, and having a family. Then can come the realisation that money isn't everything, and maybe there should have been more work-life balance.
Lorna Balfour is a mum, freelance personal trainer and lifestyle coach.