Australian women become mothers only when nearing thirty, and the average age of first-time mothers is around 28 years.
The 16th annual report on pregnancy and childbirth in Australia released on 9 December by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW), shows that the average age of mothers giving birth was 29.8 years in 2006, compared with 28.7 years in 1997.
The report, Australia's mothers and babies 2006
, says around 21 per cent of mothers were aged 35 or over in 2006, up from 15 per cent in 1997.
'We're also seeing more women deferring starting a family, with one in seven first births being to women aged 35 or older, compared with one in 12 in 1997', said Paula Laws of the AIHW's National Perinatal Statistics Unit.
While the age of women giving birth has risen, so has the number of births in Australia, with 277,436 women giving birth to 282,169 babies in 2006.
'There were 9,750 more births in 2006 than in 2005,' Ms Laws said.
Over 10,000 births in 2006 were to mothers of Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander origin, making up 3.7 per cent of all mothers.
Caesarean section births continued to rise, with 31 per cent of mothers giving birth by caesarean section in 2006 compared with 20 per cent in 1997.
Around 84 per cent of mothers giving birth in 2006 who had previously had a caesarean section had a further caesarean section.
The median length of stay in hospital for childbirth was three days, and was longer for women who had a caesarean section (five days).
Of babies born in 2006:
eight per cent were preterm (less than 37 weeks gestation), compared with seven per cent in 1997
six per cent of live-born babies were of low birthweight (less than 2,500 grams)
15 per cent of liveborn babies were admitted to a special care nursery or neonatal intensive care unit
The perinatal death rate (deaths of babies before or up to 28 days after birth) was 10.3 per 1,000 births. The most common cause of perinatal death was congenital abnormality.