The pandemic made a lot of moms reconsider having multiple children, and rightfully so. But as the world works to get back to “normal,” the number of mothers who’ve decided not to have another kid has increased in the past two years. And at a steady rate. It's officially a baby bust.
Our fifth annual State of Motherhood survey found the largest percentage of millennial and Gen Z moms ever saying they do not plan to have more children. Moms in 2022 are 9 points less likely to say they want another child (30% down from 39%) and way down (-13 points) from 2020’s survey of 43%.
While the state of the world plays a part in this decision—10% of moms with one child cited this as their reason to be “one and done”—it’s not the only reason, and certainly not the top. Age, medical considerations, career reasons, and environmental sustainability were also concerns, but these are the main reasons why most mamas have decided not to add to their families in 2022.
Unfortunately, it’s expensive to have a kid in the United States—and we’re not even talking about raising children; just giving birth in America can cost thousands of dollars.
“I'm currently pregnant with my second and we have decided this baby will be the last,” Addie R. tells 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 crazy expensive (not raising, just birthing).”
Pair that with juggling work with raising kids, not to mention the rising cost of childcare, and it’s not hard to see why families are deciding to have fewer kids these days. According to our survey, 35% of both stay-at-home moms and families with a yearly income of $100k were open to having more babies, while 55% of families with household incomes between $65-100K say they are done having children.
Family feels complete
48% of Gen Z and millennial mothers who took our survey said they are not planning to have or adopt more children. Of those moms, 31% divulged that their family feels complete.
“We had our first and only child in 2021. Before we had her, I wasn’t sure whether I wanted one or two. Now, I couldn’t fathom having more than one,” Jennifer G. told Motherly. “She’s the absolute perfect addition to our family and we feel so lucky that she chose us. We really feel that in order to give her the best life possible and the best advantages, that it’s best to pour our resources into her, rather than have multiples. Our family feels complete with just us.”
Families have downsized significantly in the past 50 years, from 3.7 people in the average household in the ‘60s to 3.13 in 2021. Similarly, the number of one-child families has grown significantly, from 11% in 1976 to 21% in 2016. Our survey results in recent years mirror this. In 2020, 63% of mothers of one child intended to have another; by 2021 that number fell to 59% and this year it is 42%—a 17-point drop from a year ago.
Don’t want to be pregnant again
Let’s face it, for a lot of people pregnancy is not fun. And the thought of doing it again may not be worth having multiple children. Out of the Gen Z and millennial moms who took our survey, 14% said their reason for not having another is simply because they don’t want to be pregnant again. (It’s important to note that of that 14%, 62% are moms that work full-time.)
“I had horribly debilitating morning sickness this pregnancy and it was hard enough with one child to take care of, but if I got sick again and had two to care for I don't think I could do it,” Addie R. says. “I thought deciding to stop at two would make me sad, but honestly I just feel relieved.”
Having a baby is a huge decision, even if you already have kids. Do what’s best for yourself and your family.