Neelendu Banerjee

Historically, natural disasters, terrorist attacks and blackouts have affected the birth rate. Similarly, initial signs during the COVID-19 pandemic point to fewer babies in the coming years, continuing a trend that first gained noticeable momentum during the Great Recession. You may be wondering if you should have a baby during the pandemic or if you’re Being Practical About Having Babies or Should I Keep My Firstborn an Only Child? or if  Mothers With One Child Are Happiest.

A recent survey from the Guttmacher Institute, a reproductive-health research and policy organization, found that “about a third of women in the United States ages 18 to 49 were planning to postpone pregnancy or forgo adding a child to their family because of the pandemic.”

More Requests for Birth Control

Since the pandemic started, Nurx, a telehealth company that provides women’s reproductive health care prescribed online and delivered to their homes, has seen a spike in the demand for contraception. Dr. Julie Graves, a family medicine and public health doctor and the Associate Director of Clinical Services at Nurx, notes there’s been a 50% increase in birth control requests and a 40% uptick in requests for the morning-after pill. 

Many on the fence, wondering, should you have a baby or not during COVID, have found it difficult to get contraceptives or get in to see a physician due to the priority being given to treating patients with COVID-19. Others have tried to avoid going to the pharmacy during the pandemic.

Baby-Making Decisions in a Shaky Economy

The trajectory of this virus remains unknown, but its economic devastation is affecting how people think about family size. They worry about starting or expanding their family for financial reasons. Fifty percent of adults have experienced their own or someone in their household’s loss of income because of the pandemic. Added financial strain could force many couples, especially millennials, to think twice about having a first child or growing their family: 

Dr. Kate Bahn, director of labor market policy at the Washington Center for Equitable Growth says, “We know that women make fertility decisions based on economic opportunities.” 

Dr. Hannes Schwandt, an economics professor at Northwestern University goes further, “The very unromantic part of fertility is that it’s really largely driven by economics,” he says. “This pandemic means that the baby bust is looking less like a blip and more like a permanent trend.” 

The pandemic has led some women to put their in vitro fertilization treatments on hold. Even with an effective, tested vaccine on its way, COVID-19 still spirals in many states and giving birth in some areas is challenging. Because labor and delivery regulations that do or don’t allow a partner into the hospital can change according to COVID-19’s prevalence at the time, and definitive studies on the risks to mother and baby during the epidemic are not yet available, couples are being appropriately cautious about becoming pregnant. 

The personal impact of life-threatening events and major life stressors vary from person to person. Some decide to hold off on making major life changes and others forge ahead reported The New York Times. 

Should you have a baby or not during COVID? Have COVID-related health or financial worries affected your family planning? I would love to hear your thoughts. Please tell me via the “contact” form at the top of this page. Your response is confidential; only I will see it.