Ideas & Advice

COVID-19 Puts Babies on Hold

Engin Akyurt / Unsplash

Source: Engin Akyurt / Unsplash

When the pandemic caused widespread lockdowns in March 2020, I raised the question: More babies or more divorces after COVID-19? I compared the possibilities to other disasters such as hurricanes and the 9/11 World Trade Center bombing in New York City… and speculated.

A year later, the pandemic continues to create personal and economic upheaval. The signs point to a decrease in the number of babies in the coming years, continuing a trend that gained momentum during the Great Recession of 2008. According to data from the National Center for Health Statistics, the birth rate has fallen sharply. spectacular and remained weak.

A recent survey by the Guttmacher Institute, a reproductive health policy and research organization, found that “about one-third of women in the United States between the ages of 18 and 49 plan to postpone pregnancy or give up adding a child to their family due to the pandemic. . “

Increased demand for contraception

I spoke with Dr. Julie Graves, a family medicine and public health physician and associate director of clinical services at Nurx. Nurx is a telehealth company launched in 2016 that provides reproductive health care to women, prescribed online and delivered to their homes. Since the start of the pandemic, the company has seen a 50% increase in requests for contraception and a 40% increase in requests for the morning-after pill. In the latter’s case, the women told Dr Graves that they “just wanted to keep protection on hand in case they needed it.”

At the start of the pandemic, “the barriers to obtaining contraception were staggering,” she told me. “As the pandemic unfolded, accessing your own doctor was problematic, going to the pharmacy and standing in line was troubling if you could get a prescription from your doctor. Many doctors have been called upon to treat cases of COVID-19 and unavailable to their regular patients. With cases on the increase in different parts of the country, it is unclear how or if women will face barriers in obtaining contraception to avoid a pregnancy they do not want at the moment.

Making baby decisions in an unstable economy

The trajectory of this virus remains unknown, but its economic devastation affects the way people think about family size. They fear starting or expanding their families for financial reasons.

In July, a US Census Bureau survey reported that 50 percent of adults suffered their own loss of income or that of a member of their household due to the pandemic. The numbers are almost identical for men and women. Since children are expensive, job loss or reduced income will likely negatively affect decisions about the birth of a baby. In our COVID world, those with one child ask: is being an only child a problem?

For now, the economy is probably replacing the thoughts of having a first, second, or multiple children. “The precariousness of the economy is one of the many tragedies of this pandemic,” notes Dr Graves. But if you look back, she adds, “women have been wondering when to have babies for decades. We asked women who want to be successful in the world of work not to start a family.

Apple and Facebook, for example, offered egg freezing as a perk. Was it a benefit or something else? For women as they get older, waiting to have children like many do can affect their chances of becoming pregnant with or without fertility assistance. Nevertheless, the pandemic has prompted some women to stop their IVF treatments.

With an effective and tested vaccine still a hope and COVID-19 continuing to skyrocket in many states, childbirth in some areas is difficult. Although hospitals have had and are concerned with being united, partners can be kept away from the labor and delivery room. “At first, people were scared. Unfortunately, our culture is not family friendly on so many levels, and the pandemic has exposed and intensified many problems, ”says Dr Graves.

As labor and delivery regulations may change depending on the prevalence of COVID-19 at the time, and definitive studies on the risks to mother and baby during the outbreak are not yet available , couples are careful enough before they become pregnant. Write in Atlantic magazine, journalist Joe Pinsker put it this way: “… in times of heightened uncertainty, people are less likely to have children. And the future is doubly uncertain right now: Prospective parents are likely worried about both their future health (and that of their children) and their future finances. ”

COVID-19 has added another layer of complexity to an already difficult and overwhelming question: how many children to have. Are the social, emotional or financial fallout from the pandemic affecting your family planning decisions?


Copyright @ 2020, @ 2021 by Susan Newman

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