Post-pandemic baby boom appears unlikely

At least in Alaska
Published: Oct. 8, 2020 at 7:00 AM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - A stigma coming out of the pandemic: if people have been staying at home so much for the past few months, romantic partners are probably using the time making babies. According to OB-GYNs at the Anchorage Women’s Clinic, the number of women seeking out pregnancy care just doesn’t support that.

According to Dr. Dana Espindola, the trends don’t point in the opposite direction either.

“We feel — really since this pandemic started — that we’ve just been very steady," she said, "and actually quite busy. However, obstetrics is typically busier in the summer anyway. We’ve just been busy in general. So I don’t necessarily think that we’ve seen more or less.”

She said that she understands why people would think hunker-down mandates would lead to a baby boom, even joking about it in the office, but the data isn’t there.

For women who are expecting or are using this time to grow their families, Espindola talked about the things that they do know about COVID-19′s impact on this group.

Most notably, she said that there is still much to learn about the virus and how it affects pregnant women, which is the most cause for concern.

Still, there are some trends that she said can be drawn based on what data is currently available. For example, she said it doesn’t seem those pregnant women who contract COVID-19 usually end up in the hospital.

“They’re generally going to be of reproductive age — somewhere between 20s and 40s — and from what we’re seeing so far, those patients generally fare well with COVID-19 if they don’t have preexisting medical conditions. So we’re seeing that in pregnancy, we’re seeing that patients that do get COVID-19 during pregnancy, for the most part, don’t have to be hospitalized,” she said.

That’s not to say that there are no complications from COVID-19 in a pregnancy. Espindola said COVID-19 can increase the risk of blood clots, which can cause complications for women planning to give birth. She said more doctors are prescribing these patients who get COVID-19 with blood thinners more often.

Espindola said given the apparent low risk, these women should still act with caution during the pandemic and follow measures to be safe.

There are viruses that doctors like Espindola know for a fact can be particularly harmful to pregnant women this time of year.

“We do know that pregnant patients with the flu can be hospitalized more often. They can have complications such as pneumonia and have to be admitted to the hospital, but we’re not necessarily seeing that with COVID-19. The issue with COVID-19 is just the unknown,” she said.

Espindola said for that reason, women with a baby on the way should still be getting that vaccine, even during pregnancy.

For those nearing their due dates, it’s important to note that hospital visitation restrictions are in effect for major hospitals. At Providence Medical Center, for example, the rule remains that only one visitor per pregnant patient is allowed. Therefore, every family member is not permitted to wait in the lobby to meet the new baby.

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