Family matters... New ABS data shows the ACT has the oldest first-time mothers in Australia.

Family matters... New ABS data shows the ACT has the oldest first-time mothers in Australia. Photo: Thinkstock

The ACT has the oldest first-time mothers in the nation, according to new figures released today by the Australian Bureau of Statisics.

The figures also show more Australian women over the age of 40 are having babies than ever before.

And the report also reveals a slight drop in the number of births in the ACT over the 12 months.

The median age for first-time mothers in the ACT in 2011 was 30, which was higher than the national average of 28.9 years.

Victoria had the next oldest first-time mums (29.7 years).

The ACT also had the oldest mums in general who gave birth during the year - and the oldest dads.

The median age for all women who gave birth in the ACT during the year was 31.4 years. For dads, it was 33.6 years, equal only to Victoria.

Director of ABS Demography Bjorn Jarvis said the significant number of older mums in Canberra was probably a factor of them furthering their education and career prospects in the national capital, and then waiting until later to give birth.

The ACT had a highly-educated, highly career-orientated population.

In a similar way, both men and women were waiting longer to become parents so they could be financially secure until they started a family.

The bureau's Births, Australia, 2011 publication shows that in 2011 a record 12,800 babies were born to women over 40, up from 7100 in 2001.

Mr Jarvis said the fertility rate for mothers in the 40–44 year old age group has increased to 15.1 babies per 1000 women in 2011 from 9.2 in 2001.

He said it was part of a long-term trend and improvements in fertility treatment might be a factor.

There were 1052 mothers in the ACT aged 35 to 39 years last year. The exact numbers of mothers aged 40 and over in the ACT were not displayed in the 2011 report.

Mr Jarvis said that might have been to do with the low raw numbers and privacy concerns.

Last year in the ACT, there were 212 mothers aged 40 to 45 who gave birth and 12 aged 45 to 49.

"We have also seen the total number of births in Australia pass the 300,000 mark for the first-time," Mr Jarvis said.

"The total fertility rate in Australia for 2011 was 1.88 babies per woman; this is higher than the record low of 1.73 in 2001 but a decline from the recent peak of 1.96 in 2008.

"Tasmania had the highest fertility rate at 2.17 babies per woman, while Victoria had the lowest at 1.75."

The ACT had a fertility rate of 1.76.

There were 5121 babies born in the ACT last year compared to 5149 in 2010.