When to get pregnant?

May be a dumb question but as a woman still in business school I wanted to hear all your perspectives on the timing of when I should eventually start a family.

Ideally I don’t want to have kids past my mid 30s but is getting pregnant early in your career a stupid move? Most likely it’ll be my spouse taking the most time off work to care for the baby, so I don’t plan on taking a super long mat leave, if relevant.

Feel free to respond with your of your coworkers’ experiences with maternity/paternity leave.

 

Ah, the age-old question of timing family planning with career progression, especially in the high-stakes world of finance. Based on the most helpful WSO content, there's no one-size-fits-all answer, but let's dive into some perspectives that might help you navigate these waters.

  1. Seniority and Flexibility: The consensus seems to be that the more senior you become in your career, the more flexibility you might have in managing your schedule. This could make it easier to balance family responsibilities with work. For instance, a partner in a PE firm might find it easier to leave the office at 5 PM and pick up work later in the evening compared to a senior associate. This flexibility can be crucial when raising a young child.

  2. Personal Circumstances Matter: Your decision might also heavily depend on your personal circumstances. Factors such as your partner's job, your support system, and how much of the child-rearing responsibilities you're willing to outsource play a significant role. If your partner can take a step back from their career to care for the child, this could provide you with more flexibility to focus on your career.

  3. Firm Culture: The culture of the firm you're working for can also impact your experience. Firms with female partners or those where partners have working spouses might be more understanding and accommodating of your needs as a parent.

  4. Timing with Career Milestones: Some suggest timing pregnancy around significant career milestones, such as completing an MBA or reaching a certain level of seniority (e.g., Director or Partner level). This approach aims to minimize the impact on career progression.

  5. Considerations on Early vs. Late Pregnancy: Starting a family earlier in your career could potentially impact your career trajectory, as early career stages often require building a solid foundation and reputation. However, waiting too long might bring biological considerations into play, with fertility typically declining as one gets older.

  6. Diverse Perspectives: It's also worth noting that perspectives on this topic can vary widely. Some argue there's never a "good" time, suggesting that personal priorities should guide your decision. Others highlight the importance of not letting career dictate family life decisions too strictly.

In summary, while there's no perfect answer, weighing your career aspirations against your personal life goals and circumstances, considering the culture of your workplace, and planning with your partner are all critical steps in making the best decision for you. Remember, what works for one person might not work for another, so gathering diverse perspectives and reflecting on what's most important to you and your family is key.

Sources: How does one best fit pregnancy into a PE career, How does one best fit pregnancy into a PE career, Sell Your Options Dearly: KIDS, Getting married early when working in IB/PE/HF

I'm an AI bot trained on the most helpful WSO content across 17+ years.
 

First of all, do you have a spouse or LT partner? His goals and characteristics will be important for this question. Read those studies where women's earnings drop significantly after birth of a child, and those where women's income stagnate after they start to surpass their husband's income. If your spouse will be the one to take time off, then it shld be fine. 

 
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How old are you? You’re in an MBA program? Where do you like to play poker?

"If you always put limits on everything you do, physical or anything else, it will spread into your work and into your life. There are no limits. There are only plateaus, and you must not stay there, you must go beyond them." - Bruce Lee
 
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How old are you? You’re in an MBA program? Where do you like to play poker?

You gotta treat the WSO ladies with respect, all 3 of them.

Not sure how I disrespected anyone. These are the details needed to answering her questions. Also, she said she is in business school so could be undergrad or MBA, which  would give different answers. And I love poker so was wondering if she is a poker star online or live. Cheers.

"If you always put limits on everything you do, physical or anything else, it will spread into your work and into your life. There are no limits. There are only plateaus, and you must not stay there, you must go beyond them." - Bruce Lee
 

Most likely your spouse won't. Most likely you will need two incomes. Pregnancies after 35 are called geriatric pregnancies, conception is often times difficult or impossible. 

Kids are important, they need their mothers more than their fathers, especially at an early age. Father's re important too. Households without father have children faring worse with.

 

If your spouse is also a woman and wanting to be the motherly figure for the baby, she should have it herself not make you have it AND ALSO work/take a shortened maternity leave. Maternity leave is mostly for the one having the baby. Also, like others have said, it is more important for the birthmother to be with the baby more in the early stages of life. She shouldn't let/want you to conceive and work a double full-time job (IB) to provide for the family. But then again, my wife would probably want me to have the baby for her and work if I could too lol. 

Anyways, have it once you're an associate. It's long enough to have tenure and not have anxiety about leaving, and you're young enough to bounce back quickly. It also gives you the option for more kids. You have significantly lower chances after 30. I know someone who went into early menopause at 29, so you never know. A lot of people our generation think they can wait till they have "their finances/life" all figured out and end up not being able to have a baby afterwards. In vitro doesn't always work. Good luck bringing life into the world cheers. 

 

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I just want to hear about people’s advice on when to start a family in this type of career, and if I’ll seriously hurt my career progression

If you're the one carrying the kid, in all but rare circumstances it will at the very least slow your progression. That's the trade off of a professional woman having a family. It's not fair, but it is what it is. So you need to ask yourself how seriously you want this and what is more important to you. You might be one of the lucky ones who it doesn't interfere with, I have no idea what your background is and couldn't tell you either way. But it's probably not advisable to assume that it won't have negative knock on effects. That said, I'd argue having a family is infinitely more important than an extra notch on the career ladder.

"The obedient always think of themselves as virtuous rather than cowardly" - Robert A. Wilson | "If you don't have any enemies in life you have never stood up for anything" - Winston Churchill | "It's a testament to the sheer belligerence of the profession that people would rather argue about the 'risk-adjusted returns' of using inferior tooth cleaning methods." - kellycriterion
 

I feel scared and sad for a child that is thrown into this world by a person worrying so much about hurting their career progression. When you stop worrying about your career progression, that is probably the time to bring a new life into yours to share.

 

Actually I'd make two points.

1) Taking time off early in your career (in IB maybe the AS / VP level) might be a good thing. I'm happy / sorry to say (and I'm someone at the upper end of that range) that you're not that important. Clients aren't calling you and deal processes won't fall over because of you. Longevity with specific clients don't depend on you. When you come back, you'll be able to pick up new projects and there won't be much knowledge or newsflow that you've missed out on that's critical. At the AN level it might be more difficult as the demands on your time will be quite difficult to manage when you return

2) If you're good, firms definitely will not somehow hold it against you or get back at you (even ignoring potential legal or reputational damage). It costs a lot to replace a high performer (not just in cash but in I guess the opportunity cost of not having had that top performer). This might not have been your concern but I wanted to emphasise it.

I guess the third part (which I'm sure you know already) is to not delay or even jeopardise something so important for the potential career damage. Life is too short.

 

As someone who had two unplanned kids with my wife in our early to mid 30’s, including the 2nd one while I was without an income, I think past a certain age like 28, just let life happen.  The highly analytical and planning part of you will wait for the perfect time - and to be honest, child rearing and babies can be so foreign that you wait too long.  It isn’t until all your friends are having babies (around mid-30’s) that you finally realize there’s no perfect time.  By then, you could have been going to baby #2 (or #3), instead you’re at #1.  
 

Have compassion as well as ambition and you’ll go far in life. Check out my blog at MemoryVideo.com
 

I think it would be a good idea to wait until you are at least 2 years into the job if you are joining as a new MBA associate. You will be working super long hours and will still be learning how to do the job as a new associate. Most people I know (these are all men btw) have kids right when they turn VP.

 

I might get some monkey doo doo hurled my way for this one; your limit of when to actually conceive should be no later than 34-35 where if... I would expect my spouse to conceive as soon as possible (if you're set on being a professional, then enough time to set roots at a new shop and use up maternity leave).

 

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