RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — It’s been more than nine months since the first shutdowns in Virginia. Will a big baby boom soon become a side effect of the COVID-19 pandemic?
VCU Health professionals tells 8News they are preparing for a “possible baby boom” heading into the new year. Hospital doctors said their capacity levels in mother-infant units are stable at the moment. However, January and February could be a different story.
HCA Healthcare, which runs hospitals like Chippenham, reported a surge of new pregnancies in the Richmond region this spring.
“We’ve seen in the past with snowstorms and hurricanes and anytime you lose power, it seems like 9 months later labor and delivery is full,” said Dr. Katy Sanderson with Richmond Women’s Specialists at the time. “We’re already starting to see the increase of what we’re calling the COVID babies,” she said. According to Sanderson, new OB[GYN] patients increased by nearly 150 percent in May when compared to the same time in 2019.
The Richmond region could see an influx of chubby cheeked little blessings coming out of the historic, challenging year.
Dr. Tiffany Kimbrough is the medical director of VCU’s mother-infant unit. “We’ve been kind of waiting for that COVID baby boom to see if that’s coming here in the next few weeks,” Dr. Kimbrough said on Thursday, New Years Eve. “I think there was that sense of what’s it going to look like nine months from now?”
She said the hospital is preparing for the possible boom to happen in January and February. So far, what could classify as a “boom” hasn’t happened, according to the doctor. “Some weeks it feels like you know its raining babies and other weeks it’s a little more steady,” she said.
Whatever does happen, she said, they’re prepared for. “We’ve been having meetings throughout the pandemic with our team to plan for how to deal with the pandemic in general but also any surges that might happen with laboring moms,” she said. The doctor added they have plans in place to make sure families are always accommodated if capacities drastically increase. For example, they’re making sure enough nurses and provider teams are on deck. According to Dr. Kimbrough, they could end up using a neo-natal ICU and are making sure that’s ready in case it’s needed as well.
So who is getting pregnant? “Speaking with some of my patients who are parents, they always joke around with ‘you know we’ve been home with our kids for a few months. Now is not the time we want to grow our family.’ So we always joke around saying if we see a baby boom it may be first time parents who, you know are starting their family off,” the doctor told 8News.
For many families, adding a new baby to their home is a silver lining of 2020. “I think there’s a lot of joy when there’s a new baby. It just gives everyone something to look forward to and a lot of hope,” she said. “We’re really excited if we get to help families grow their families over the next few weeks.”