Experts predict pandemic baby boom
The Covid-19 pandemic has not deterred new parents from starting or adding to their families, according to social parenting community BabyDoc Club.
Some 81% of couples surveyed by BabyDoc Club are actively trying for a baby right now.
Almost half (47%) of those looking to add to their family or recently pregnant described the lockdown lifestyle restrictions of more time together and zero pressure to consume alcohol as the 'ideal time' to start a family.
This is despite worries regarding attending medical appointments and birthing without the support of their partner affecting 80% of couples actively trying for a baby, rising to 86% of pregnant mums.
The financial impact of a new baby troubled 54% of expectant parents, with most hoping to pick up some of the big ticket items in the online January sales or borrow from friends and family.
Commenting on the survey, BabyDoc Club parenting expert Laura Erskine said the planned roll-out of the Covid-19 vaccine programme has offered hope that a more normal maternity healthcare service will resume sooner than later.
Analysing the published birth numbers over the last 40 years, BabyDoc Club has identified a significant link between the birth rate and economic prosperity. With babies conceived following the first lockdown now due, BabyDoc Club has predicted the birth rate to surge in 2021. This is in line with the parenting community's observations that when the State’s economy experiences turbulence the birth rate increases, yet when it shows signs of recovery the birth rate slows down.
The pandemic looks set to mirror the historical data for baby booms in Ireland. Together with the lifestyle restrictions imposed by the Government and the message to #stayathome, it is very likely that couples will continue to embrace the time at home together.
Commenting on the predicted baby boom, Galway Primary Care GP Dr Brian Higgins said: “We have certainly seen an increase in mothers presenting to our practice for confirmation of pregnancy. It seems there may well be a pandemic baby boom on the way following Ireland’s ongoing national lockdowns.
"We have been fortunate in so far that we can provide an ultrasound service in our practice so fathers can experience exciting early pregnancy scans. Generally, our mums opt for combined hospital and GP care for their pregnancies to avoid any issues with restricted travel and to allow their partner to attend appointments.
"There was a lot of relief amongst parents late last year when the HSE started to allow partners to attend the anomaly scan at around 20 weeks gestation. However, the rising Covid positive numbers has meant this must be put on hold again as hospitals continue to review restrictions in line with the evolving government guidelines.”
Commenting on the prospect of a Covid baby boom, Rosemount Family Doctors in South Dublin GP Dr Eleanor Galvin said: “Covid has certainly had a major role to play in the rise in the number of patients presenting to our practice to confirm their pregnancies and receive maternity care. Looking at the same period last year, we have about 20% more pregnant patients attending our clinic, with due dates from now all the way into the summer.
"It’s heart-warming to see some of our patients who have struggled with achieving conception or who have experienced multiple early miscarriages in recent years enjoying healthy pregnancies during the pandemic. The lack of pressure from the daily commute to work, more relaxation at home and a healthier lifestyle following the restrictions on restaurants and bars are all likely to have helped these couples in their quest to start or add to their family.”