Women who are childfree by choice

July 30, 2019

As the role of women in society evolves, the presence of women who are childfree has been a focus of popular media and current research. Today, the numbers of women who are choosing to be childfree is increasing, however society is not always adjusting to the idea of women not becoming mothers. 2017 saw the lowest number of births since 1987 (according to a National Centre for Health Statistics report), with a 2% dip from 2016 and the fertility rate of women (aged 15-44) became a record low in 2016 at 60.2 births per 1.000 women.

The ways women reach the decision to remain childfree are diverse. Disinterest in children, career orientation, monetary advantages, unwillingness to give up a childfree lifestyle, greater opportunities for self-fulfilment and political concerns about world overpopulation are just some examples.

As the rate of women who are choosing to be childfree is growing there are specific challenges for this population. Mostly women who choose to be childfree are confident and happy with their decision, however they can face criticism from society. There is often a societal expectation that women should want to have children, and when women decide not to, they may be made to feel, by society, that they are not really a woman. Women who are childfree say that people are frequently stunned to hear that they have chosen not to bear children. Friendship networks where this is a transition to parenthood for some individuals can also lead to exclusion from conversations, child birthday parties etc. to childfree individuals.

Women who have chosen to be childfree say that they are happy with their lives as they are free to be spontaneous and not have to think about their children in each choice they make. The freedom for choice about having children is a great thing, however the pressure from society can change just how free the choice really feels for some women.



  1. Ashnurn-Nardo, L. (2017). Parenthood as a moral imperative? Moral outrage and stigmatization of voluntarily childfree women and men. Sex Roles a Journal of Research. Volume 76, Issue 5–6, pp 393–401.
  2. Births: Final Data for 2013, CDC Public Health Publications, 2013 https://stacks.cdc.gov/view/cdc/26749
  3. Mollen, D. (2006). Voluntarily Childfree Women: Experiences and Counselling Considerations: Journal of Mental Health Counselling, Volume 28 Number 3, p269-p282
  4. Peterson, H. Engwall, K. (2013). Silent bodies: Childfree women’s gendered and embodied experiences. European Journal of Women’s Studies. https://doi.org/10.1177/1350506812471338
  5. Simon, K, A. TornelLo, S, L. Boss, H, M, W. (2017). Sexual minority women and parenthood: Perceptions of friendship among childfree and new parent. Journal of Lesbian Studies. DOI: 10.1080/10894160.2019.1634994


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