The rate of women giving birth in the older age groups has increased over time. Since 1999, rates of women giving birth have:

  • almost doubled for women aged 40–44, with 15.5 mothers per 1,000 women in 2019 compared with 8.4 mothers per 1,000 women in 1999
  • almost quadrupled among women aged 45–49 with 1.1 mothers per 1,000 women in 2019 compared with 0.3 mothers per 1,000 women in 1999.

In 2019, older mothers (aged 35 years or over when they gave birth) were more likely to be born overseas, and less likely to be Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander than younger mothers (20 to 34 years).

Older mothers were less likely to smoke, slightly more likely to receive antenatal care in the first trimester, and more likely to live in higher socioeconomic areas than younger mothers.

There are some differences for older mothers giving birth for the first-time, when compared with older mothers who have had at least one previous pregnancy (multiparous mothers). Among mothers aged 40 and over, first time mothers were more likely than multiparous mothers to:

  • have gestational hypertension
  • give birth by caesarean section
  • give birth pre-term
  • have babies small for gestational age

This in focus report presents 2019 data on the demographics of mothers, pregnancy and childbirth for women aged 35 years and over, with comparisons to women who were younger when they gave birth. It also explores outcomes for older first-time mothers, with comparisons to women who have given birth previously.

Data on all mothers in Australia can be found in the Australia’s mothers and babies reports.