The pandemic made many mothers reconsider having multiple children, and for good reason. But as the world works to get back to ‘normal’, the number of mothers who have decided not to have a child is… increased in the past two years. And at a steady pace. It’s officially a baby breast.
Our fifth annual State of Motherhood survey found the largest percentage of Millennial and Gen Z mothers ever saying they had no intention of having more children. Mothers in 2022 are 9 points less likely to say they want another child (30% less than 39%) and much less (-13 points) compared to the 2020 survey of 43%.
Related: The pandemic robbed me of my dream for another baby
While the state of the world played a part in this decision—10% of single-child mothers named it their reason for being “one and done”—it’s not the only reason, and certainly not the top one. Age, medical considerations, career reasons and environmental sustainability were also concerns, but these are the main reasons why most moms have decided not to add to their families in 2022.
Unfortunately, it is expensive to have a child in the United States – not to mention raising children; just giving birth in America can cost thousands of dollars.
“I’m currently pregnant with my second and we’ve decided this will be my last,” Addie R. told Motherly. “My husband always wanted two, but I wanted at least three. But honestly, being a parent is so much harder than I expected and having babies is so insanely expensive (not raising, just giving birth).”
Related: Here’s Why the Big Layoff Was So Much More Complicated for Moms
Combine that with juggling child rearing, not to mention the rising cost of childcare, and it’s not hard to see why families decide to have fewer children these days. According to our research, 35% of both stay-at-home moms and families with an annual income of $100,000 were open to having more babies, while 55% of families with household incomes between $65 and 100,000 say they are done having children.
Family feels complete
48% of Generation Z and Millennial moms who took part in our survey said they don’t plan to have or adopt more children. Of those mothers, 31% indicated that their families feel complete.
“We had our first and only child in 2021. Before we had her, I wasn’t sure if I wanted one or two. Now I couldn’t imagine having more than one,” Jennifer G. told Motherly. “She is absolutely the perfect addition to our family and we feel so lucky that she chose us. We truly believe that in order to give her the best life possible and the best benefits, it is best to pour our resources into her, rather than having multiples. Our family feels complete with just us.”
Families have shrunk significantly over the past 50 years, from 3.7 people in the average household in the 1960s to 3.13 in 2021. Similarly, the number of one-child families has grown significantly, from 11% in 1976 to 21% in 2016. Our research results of recent years reflect this. In 2020, 63% of mothers of one child planned to have another child; by 2021, that number has fallen to 59% and this year it is 42% — a 17-point drop from a year ago.
Related: The US Childcare Crisis Led Me To Change My Career And To Lean Around The Village
Don’t want to be pregnant anymore
Let’s face it, pregnancy is not fun for many people. And the thought of doing it again may not be worth having multiple children. Of the Generation Z and Millennial moms who took part in our survey, 14% said their reason for not having another one is simply because they don’t want to be pregnant again. (It’s important to note that of those 14%, 62% are full-time mothers.)
“I had terribly debilitating morning sickness this pregnancy and it was hard enough taking care of one child, but if I got sick again and had two to take care of, I don’t think I could do it,” says Addie R. “I thought the decision to stop at two would make me sad, but honestly, I just feel relieved.”
Having a baby is a enormous decision, even if you already have children. Do what’s best for yourself and your family.
Baby Bust, collective, essays, SOM 2022