Motherhood is an ambition for eight out of 10 young Hong Kong women - but in their own good time. While 83 per cent of respondents to a survey said they wanted to be mothers, 73 per cent said they were not ready now, but more than half said they had plans to give birth in the next five years. In Jessica magazine's poll in its June-July issue, 90 per cent of respondents believed that one had to be well prepared before having children. Being financially and psychologically prepared were their top priorities. 'The new generation of women are well-rounded,' said Polly So Po-ling, project editor of Jessica. 'And they want everything to be under control, well planned and well controlled, including when to have a child.' The poll raised another issue - appropriate birth-control methods, since unexpected pregnancies often have negative financial and psychological effects on an individual. Ms So concluded that a safe and reliable birth-control method was important, especially a contraceptive that did not cause weight gain. The survey titled 'New Generation Women - When to Have Children', interviewed 281 females aged 20 to 35. The poll comes as birth rates decline in Hong Kong. The crude rate - the number of births in a given period divided by the total population and multiplied by 1,000 - has fallen from 19.4 to 6.8 per 1,000 in the past 30 years. The survey showed that only 58 per cent regarded their birth-control methods as reliable with only 33 per cent of respondents taking oral contraceptives. It is believed oral contraceptives have risks such as foetal malformation and weight gain, yet other studies show that a long-term intake of oral contraceptives will not increase the chance of foetal malformations and only 9 per cent of 101 participants who completed three cycles during the study showed weight gain. Despite such fears, an obstetrician and gynaecologist said oral contraceptives were the best form of birth control. Robert Law Chi-lim said they had a higher success rate, were convenient and their effects easily reversible.