The baby boom that never arrived

Latest research suggests less babies are being born during the pandemic. So, is it the right time to get pregnant?

Image by Ashleigh Nicolson via Instagram

We are currently in the midst of Generation Z, surrounded by the 2000 babies making us feel even older than we are. Before long, the next generation will be around bringing with them new trends and fresh ideas.

Due to the Coronavirus many of us have been in lockdown for over one year here in England. With nothing much to do but be home all day, a baby boom was predicted. The terms ‘Quaranteens’ and ‘Coronials’ is dubbed to be the name for the next generation conceived in and around the time of the coronavirus pandemic.

In theory a baby boom makes sense, with little else to do other than ‘Netflix and chill’, a baby boom would have been the most logical thing to happen. Especially, with one of the world’s largest condom factories temporarily shutting down during March 2020 leading to nationwide shortages.

Photo by Abbie Bunting

Surprisingly, the very opposite is happening. According to a report by PwC, the UK is less likely to see a baby boom during the pandemic. The postponement of pregnancies is leading to a decline in birth rates across England. In particular women under 30, whose annual birth rates have dropped to their lowest figure since 1938.

27-year-old furloughed head chef, Samantha Underwood, was planning to have her first child in 2020 but due to the pandemic has decided to wait until things get a little bit back to normal.

Samantha says; “Me and my partner Brian were ready to conceive but we decided that me being furloughed again in November 2020, it wasn’t the best time to try for a baby just yet. We definitely decided it was best not to try for a baby yet with the current pandemic as money is the biggest issue”.

However, many couples have added a new baby to their families during the pandemic. According to the Office of National Statistics there were over 450,000 births in England and Wales from January 2020 to September in 2020. So, with just under half a million babies born during the first 9 months of the pandemic what has it been like to have a child in these unlikely times?

Natasha McCardle, 23, gave birth to her second child in January 2021. Natasha describes her birthing experience during the pandemic;

“During my first pregnancy I had my partner and my mam in the room with me, which made it easier as it was an extra person to get the support from. Whereas this time I only had my partner, which was nice but not the same.”

“I had to wear a face mask until I was examined and when they said I was in active labour at 4cm dilated I was allowed to take my mask off.”

“My partner was allowed to come up to the room once I was in active labour and I was then placed into my own room. From then my partner was allowed to stay the full time with me. He had to wear a face mask until he left the hospital and was only allowed to take off his mask when the midwife wasn’t in the room.”

Pregnancy is a rollercoaster of a journey in itself before adding into the mix a worldwide pandemic. The birthing experience isn’t the only part which is slightly different during Covid, scans can also be less frequent. Senior Carer, Coleen Sword, 23, is currently 17 weeks pregnant and is expecting her second child in September. Coleen feels the pandemic has negatively affected her pregnancy. With her second pregnancy being high risk Coleen has had fewer appointments compared to her first healthy pregnancy in 2018.

“My first pregnancy in 2018 was healthy and I had no health issues. I had an 8, 16, 20, 24, 28, 32, 34, 36 and 38 week face to face appointments with the midwife with up to two extra people allowed to attend. I also had scans at 10, 12, 20, 26, 32, 36, 37, 38 and 39 weeks, I was allowed someone extra to attend and children were welcome too.”

“Whereas this pregnancy is high risk, with several issues so far. I have had an 8 and 15 week phone call with the midwife.I have had an 11 week scan and booked for a 19 week scan with one person allowed to attend and have been advised I won’t have any further scans despite this being a high risk pregnancy. I also have a face to face appointment at 25 weeks which no one is allowed to attend.”

Image by Juan Encalada via Unsplash

Pregnancy is already a scary and daunting process pre-corona, now add into the mix less scans, less appointments and limited birthing partners and it’s a whole different experience. There are still so many unknowns and with the easing of restrictions in the near future, there is finally a light at the end of the tunnel. Soon things will be back to normal.

Like all things in life there is never a right or wrong time to do something. So, if you’re choosing to get pregnant now or waiting a little longer, whenever the time is right for you, you’ll know.

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