Baby booms hit some US hospitals after historic drop in births

Amid the pandemic, births in the U.S. fell by 4 percent in 2020. Now, however, that trend is reversing as some hospitals experience baby booms. 

In June, staff at Baylor Scott & White All Saints Medical Center-Fort Worth's (Texas) Andrews Women's Hospital delivered 107 babies during a 91-hour period — a "rare and exceptional" influx for the hospital, which usually averages 16 deliveries per day. 

Compared to June 2020, deliveries at the hospital overall are up 11 percent, said Michelle Stemley, MSN, RN, director of nursing at the hospital. 

"The team has really pulled together to handle the increase in delivery volume," Ms. Stemley told Becker's. "We have had to implement our surge capacity plan to accommodate the influx of patients. Nurses are working extra shifts and leadership has jumped in to help ensure all of our patients receive excellent care." 

While impossible to pinpoint what's behind the recent trend, Jay Herd, MD, the hospital's chief medical officer, speculates pandemic lockdowns are a likely factor. Once news spread that a COVID-19 vaccine was coming soon, people also likely felt more comfortable resuming plans to grow their families, Dr. Herd said. 

Chicago-based Rush University Medical Center is also seeing a significant uptick in deliveries, though later than expected. Instead, birth volume started to rise in May, and continued to increase throughout June and July, said Denise Banton, RN, unit director of labor and delivery at Rush and interim unit director of the antepartum postpartum unit.

"In obstetrics, traditionally we tend to trend with higher birth numbers around nine to 11 months after a major catastrophic event," Ms. Banton said. "Consistent with the past, we had anticipated a baby boom around December 2020 to February 2021. That was not the case."

She noted that Rush's recent partnership with Chicago-based Esperanza Health Clinics may have resulted in a bump in deliveries. 

"I believe it is a combination of late pandemic babies and our newer affiliation," Ms. Banton said. "As a co-perinatal center with Chicago-based Advocate Illinois Masonic Medical Center, a large percentage of our patients are high risk in nature and thus there is an acuity factor that adds weight to the volume of patients seen."

Increased staffing levels across the board are required to continue to maintain quality patient care, Ms. Banton said. "Like most facilities, we are actively recruiting the best candidates to meet the needs of our patient population. The institution has identified the need to support and address staff wellness endeavors to support the healthcare team to not only survive, but thrive through the lingering effects of the COVID-19 pandemic."

However, not every hospital is experiencing this trend. Both Los Angeles-based Cedars-Sinai Medical Center and UCLA Medical Center, Los Angeles did not experience similar trends. Cedars-Sinai isn't reporting any significant changes in its birth and delivery volumes, while UCLA Medical Center saw volumes of deliveries drop amid the pandemic.  

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