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Pandemic Pregnancy in Virginia: Boom or Bust?

You may have seen the posts on social media, hinting at a pandemic pregnancy surge now that couples are spending more time at home. So, is that actually happening?

Samantha Fincham and her husband Paul welcomed their bundle of joy Wayland on January 22.

"We're happy he's here... We were ready for another baby," said Fincham. The couple found out they were expecting baby number three in May-- about two months after stay-at-home orders were instituted in Virginia. 

Fincham said she knew having a newborn during a pandemic would be an emotional rollercoaster. "It's a little scary, to be honest," said Fincham. 

"With my first two, I didn't have to worry about this virus coming into the home, having to filter who can come into the home and who can hold him. And everyone wants to hold him... We're almost a year into [the pandemic], and we're still dealing with it. So, we really weren't expecting it. Even as a nurse, I didn't think this would last this long."

Fear and uncertainty may be reasons why there have been fewer pregnancies and births in Virginia amid COVID-19 than some anticipated. Preliminary numbers from the Virginia Department of Health show there were 6,924 babies born in the commonwealth in December 2020. 

That's more than 700 fewer births compared with the previous year. 

Saint Leo University Professor of Sociology Dr. Eileen O'Brien said financial hardship could also explain the statewide decrease. "When economic times are uncertain, people don't feel comfortable setting down roots," said Dr. O'Brien. "There's a lot of family stressors of not knowing when the next paycheck is going to come."

Not every locality has seen a drop in birth rates. Chesapeake Regional Healthcare Mother and Baby Unit Nurse Manager Carri Folwaczny reported a slight bump in deliveries. 

"Between December 2019 to December 2020, we saw right around an increase of four babies being born in that month," said Folwaczny. "January 2020, though, to January 2021 we saw already 13 more babies being born."

Folwaczny said pandemic birth trends are just getting started and a true assessment will be available in the coming months. Meanwhile, Fincham said she's just thankful to have a healthy baby in the middle of a health crisis. "He's been a great addition," said Fincham. "The boys love him... a lot more than I thought they would!"