One to One Coaching

I offer free 30 minute telephone/Skype consultations for people wanting to find out more about coaching on the 'baby decision'. Email me at and assistant Laura will respond and arrange an appointment with you. Visit for more information about my coaching services.

Monday, 31 March 2008

A perspective on the issue from Jamaica

Well, I came across this article in the Jamaica Observer.

On one level, it neatly outlined the dilemma for many women - as we've explored in the blog, more women are aware of the limitations of fertility.

And, if they are in their mid 30's with no partner and they want kids, the situation could look bleak.

However, I found this article rather limited in terms of options they present - I sent in this letter to the paper which, I hope they print as I think women reading the article, might feel like their only option is to march any bloke up to the wedding chapel!

Dear Editor,

Many women in different parts of the world are experiencing the same difficult decisions. I'm a life coach specialising in coaching women in the UK and (via the phone) in other parts of the world including the US, Canada, and Australia.The issue varies from woman to woman.

For some, they have found the man they want to spend the rest of their life with - but he is saying he doesn't know if he wants kids yet because he is too young or not ready! This leave the women in a difficult position - do they wait, knowing that their biological clock is ticking or leave to find another relationship or, have a child as a single parent? It is becoming more and more culturally acceptable in many parts of the world to have a child as a single parent - and this might be an option for some of your readers. Rather than drag an unsuitable man into marriage if you want a baby, an option could be to have a child on your own.

Some of the women I coach don't actually really want children but feel pressured by friends, family, their church etc into having children. When that is the case it may be, that with abit of support they are able to be clearer to their friends/family about why they have choosen to live a child-free life.

Saturday, 29 March 2008

The decline of marriage

This topic is slightly off the beaten track of the discussion around whether to have children or not but I think they are related.

There have been a surge of articles on marriage following latest release of stats that show marriage is on the decline. Some articles - like this one - are despairing (pointing to a decline in committment) and others put a more optimistic spin on it like this one.

Personally, I've never been a great believer in marriage myself. Sure, it's a powerful symbol of committment and love but surely, there are many other ways to some committment in relationships?

When it comes to the decision to have children or not - marriage is a loaded issue.

If you are married, there is an expectation that having kids is part of the deal - and married couples who choose to be childfree are regarded as oddities.

If you aren't married and have kids, you are seen as slightly suspect.

And if you are single and want to have children, this is seen as feckless.

I don't think any of these concepts is particularly helpful, useful or true!

Friday, 21 March 2008

A very interesting article appeared today by Rachel Cusk - on her experience of the furore around her book 'A Life's Work' which was one of the first books to explore the issue of maternal ambivalence. She writes about how she was shocked that she received such personal criticism about her honest reflections and has been asked time and time again if she regrets having her children!! As she points out, it seems that anything that threats the pervasive ideal of 'motherhood' is an extreme threat. I must say, I was quite shocked at the vitroil on the Women's Hour message board about the topic of maternal ambivalence - with some posters likening it to child abuse.

Click her to read her article.

Thursday, 20 March 2008

Must I choose between my partner and a baby?

Today the Guardian has published a very familiar dilemna to readers of this blog - someone who wants a baby and their partner doesn't!,,2266613,00.html

I thought all the replies were quite interesting - I do like what Linda Blair said here

'It is impossible for anyone to feel totally happy and confident about becoming a parent for the first time - it is after all, new and unknown territory.'

Wednesday, 19 March 2008

Research relating to the decision of whether to have children or not

There hasn't been a huge amount of research on this topic. Some of the research I have come across in writing the book is around declining birth rates.

According to the UK Office of National Statistics in 1996, 14,952 mothers over 35 years of age had their first child; in 2001 this had risen to 27,468 with the total number of women having a first child remaining relatively consistent. Fertility rates reveal that between 2001 and 2004 the number of births per 1,000 women increased from 669,100 to 716,000. Over the past 30 years birth rates have increased for women aged 30-40 while they have fallen for younger women

A report from Finland called ‘Trends in Social Protection in Finland 2004’ stated that:

‘There is also an increasing number of women who remain childless. At the moment, 15 percent of middle-aged women are childless. In the future this figure is expected to rise to 20 percent. Childlessness is most common among highly educated women.’

At a recent European summit on population and family policies across the European Union, Joakim Palme, Director, Institute for Future Studies, Stockholm, described the findings of their recent report Sustainable policies in an ageing Europe: modernising family polices. This analysed social trends in Europe: an ageing society, declining marriage, fertility and birth rates, and an increased female labour force.

Mr Palme said that if the European social model was to be sustainable, policy-makers needed to make wide-ranging reforms to current social protection systems and fine-tune the relationship between encouraging higher birth rates, improving Europe’s skills base and increasing the labour supply to enlarge the future tax base.

Education plays an important role, as building up Europe’s “human capital” (i.e. a highly-skilled work force) will increase GDP per capita growth, providing revenue to care for an ageing population.

However, the study also found that, in some Member States, prolonging education reduced fertility levels as women delayed having children to continue their studies and some then decided not to have children at all because of the negative impact this would have on their employment opportunities.

Reports from Japan have been published with similar findings. In 2005, the Japanese government reported that the birth rate was the lowest since the government began keeping records in 1947. The declining rate threatens to leave Japan with a labour shortage, a reduced tax base and a strained pension system. As a response, Japan's government began a five-year project to lift the rate, building more day-care centres and encouraging men's paternity leave.

"The trend towards having fewer children will have a grave impact on the economy and society as it slows economic growth, increases the burden for social security and taxes, and reduces the vitality of regional society," Chief Cabinet Secretary Shinzo Abe said to a news conference on 31st May 2006.

Monday, 17 March 2008

Feature in magazine - journalist looking for an interviewee

I've spoken to a journalist who is interested in interviewing a woman who is trying to make the decision to have children or not. She is happy to interview someone in the UK or overseas. Her request is below

Mail on Sunday, You - Real Life Feature Request

You magazine is looking for women in their mid-thirties who are facingthe dilemmas of whether or not to have children. Here some examples of dilemmas you or one of your case studies might be facing:
You might have found the right guy but it's not happening and you'rehaving fertility treatment.
You might be ready to have a baby and in the absence of a man have are going to go it alone.
You might be single and not ready to have a baby but want to freeze your eggs as insurance (or have already).
You one day want to have babies but you are at the top of your gamecareer-wise and worried about what would happen if you went off now.
You want to have babies but keep putting it off because you're worriedabout the physical aspects (ie pregnancy, childbirth etc.)
You never wanted kids but everyone around you is having them and you'reworried you'll regret your decision.

Even if your baby dilemma doesn't fit the bill, if you're in your mid-thirties and at some kind of baby crossroads, get in touch. Contact Anna Magee on

Friday, 14 March 2008

The ticking of the biological clock and careers

Have been surfing the net looking for relevant articles and found this rather blunt article about women, our biological clock and careers. Basically the author recommends that we all turn our attention to finding a mate in our 20's with the same zeal as we did for our careers. She also has a blog and wrote a blog entry here with lots of comments on her entry

On one hand, yes if you are planning on having kids it is better to try to conceive before the age of 35. (although this author argues it's best before you are 30!.

But I don't think that we can plan our lives and our relationships around our biological clock. I don't think it works like that for most people. It also implys that we can plan and control everything in our lives - we can't. For some of the woman I coach, they have fallen in love with someone and then, it turns out that they don't want kids. Or you don't meet the right person - no matter how many personal ads you answer.

Tuesday, 11 March 2008

To be happy in marriage, baby carriage not required

Just came across this interesting article..have just been able to skim it but will blog more about it later.

Again, interesting in that it's showing a trend towards married couples choosing not to have children and be childfree.

Friday, 7 March 2008

Freezing Eggs

A report on the BBC's Inside Out featured women in their early 30's who were freezing their eggs - 'as insurance.'

One women in her early 30's talked about how she hadn't found Mr. Right yet and wanted to freeze her eggs so she would be able to have children later.

Interestlying, it turns out that only 3 children have ever been born in the UK using frozen eggs!

The presenter, Miram Stoppard commented that she felt it was a risky strategy to adopt.

I do find it interesting as it does again relate to this discussion. One of the women interviewed said she felt that we are leaving everything later and later, we continue our university years into our late 20's and then think about settling down - when it might be too late.

Then again, are stories like these just designed to scare women even further? Is it related to Susan Faludi's point she made in the article I mentioned before that the fertility industry is scaring women into retreating to child-rearing? As Miriamm Stoppard pointed out, she had a child when she was 35 and didn't think anything of it.

Tuesday, 4 March 2008

Susan Faludi - Women and 9/11

I've been meaning to do a blog entry on this extract from Susan Faludi's recent book for a few weeks now and finally I have the time.

One of the extracts can be found here

Basically, she is looking at how women were positioned by the media and by decision makers in the wake of 9/11. I found her analysis facinating and agreed wholeheartedly with how she shows how women were set up as the victims and men as the heros. When women - such as the four widows of men who died in the building - didn't fit into the role of passive victim but, like the four widows did to challenge the government on their failings and how the mistakes made, they were vilified.

The extract that had the most relevance for this blog (and the subject of this blog) is the extract I've put the link above.

After 9/11, the media widely reported that women were retreating from the workforce and into pro-creation. Yet, no evidence for this was found. Again, it seems as though there is a desparateness to push women back into the traditional roles of child-rearing and homemaking.

For childfree women, this must have felt like another blow during this time as one of the media messages Faludi reports was common was about women 'regretting' child-free status and feeling desparate to have children. Again, as she points out, this wasn't based on research - just a few ancedotal stories

My only slight unease is that Faludi - like other feminists of her generation - sees work very much as women's salvation - Rosie Boycott made a similar arguement in an article that I'll find and post the link to here. Again, very much that child-rearing is a trap.

I find this a difficult arguement sometimes as I don't think that it is neccessarily our salavation if we are mothers to be working 70 hour weeks and hardly seeing children. Yet, I definately think that it's important to be able to work and develop an identity away from being a mother - not every mother will want this of course. For alot of mothers, part-time working is the ideal solution. Yet often, part-time jobs are difficult to come by and are often more poorly paid.