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When the pandemic resulted in widespread bans in March, I asked the question: More Babies or More Divorces after COVID-19? I’ve compared the possibilities to other disasters like hurricanes and the September 11th bombing of the World Trade Center in New York City … and speculated.
Four months later, the pandemic continues to create personal and economic upheaval. The evidence suggests fewer babies will be born in the years to come, continuing a trend that picked up noticeably during the Great Recession of 2008. According to the National Center for Health Statistics, the birth rate has fallen dramatically and has remained low.
A current survey by the Guttmacher Institute, a reproductive health research and policy organization, found that “about a third of women in the US ages 18-49 were planning to postpone pregnancy or have a child because of the pandemic “.
Uptick in requests for birth control
I spoke to Dr. Julie Graves, a family medicine and public health doctor and assistant director of clinical services at Nurx. Nurx is a telemedicine company founded in 2016 providing reproductive health care for women, prescription online and home delivery. Since the start of the pandemic, the company has seen contraception requests increase by 50 percent and morning-after pill requests by 40 percent. In the latter case, women said to Dr. Graves: They just wanted protection on hand in case they needed it.
Early on in the pandemic, “the barriers to birth control were staggering,” she told me. “When the pandemic unfolded, having access to your own doctor was problematic. Going to the pharmacy and standing in line when you could get a prescription from your doctor was problematic. Many doctors have been asked to treat COVID-19 cases that were not available to their regular patients. “With cases in different parts of the country, it is difficult to know how or if women encounter contraception barriers to preventing pregnancy that they currently do not want.
Baby decisions in a shaky economy
The trajectory of this virus is unknown, but its economic destruction affects people’s attitudes towards family size. They are concerned about starting or expanding their families for financial reasons.
In July a US Census Bureau survey reported that 50 percent of adults experienced loss of income or loss of income in their household due to the pandemic. The numbers are almost identical for men and women. Since children are expensive, job loss or reduced income is likely to negatively affect decisions about having babies. In our COVID world, people with a child wonder: is it a problem to be an only child?
For now, the economy is likely to be replacing the thought of having a first, second, or multiple children. “The weak economy is one of the many tragedies of this pandemic,” notes Dr. Graves. But when you look back, she adds, “Women have been concerned about when to have their babies for decades. We asked women who want to be successful in the world of work to stop starting families. “
Apple and Facebook, for example, offered freezing eggs as a benefit. Was it an advantage or something else? As women get older, waiting for children, like many others, can affect their chances of conceiving with or without fertility aid. Even so, the pandemic has resulted in some women suspending their IVF treatments.
With an effective, tested vaccine still a hope and COVID-19 continuing to spiral in many states, giving birth is challenging in some areas. Although hospitals have had concerns and do have support, partners can be kept out of the work and delivery room. “People were scared early on. Unfortunately, our culture is not conducive to families on so many levels, and the pandemic has exposed and exacerbated many of the problems, ”explains Dr. Graves.
Since labor and delivery regulations may change at this time depending on the prevalence of COVID-19 and no definitive studies are yet available on the risks to mother and child during the epidemic, couples should be reasonably careful during pregnancy. Write in The Atlantic The journalist Joe Pinsker put it this way: “…in times of heightened uncertainty, People are less likely to have children. And the future is doubly uncertain right now: prospective parents are likely to be concerned about both their future health (and that of their children) and their future finances. ”
COVID-19 has added another layer of complexity to an already difficult and life changing question: How many children should they have? Will the social, emotional, or financial consequences of the pandemic affect your family planning decisions? Please add your thoughts to the comment section.
Copyright @ 2020 by Susan Newman
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