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'Quarantennial Boom' expected in the spring as pregnancy fears ease during pandemic

Mercy Hospital has seen a huge uptick in pregnancies in recent weeks

ST. LOUIS — Since the pandemic began in March, there's been a lot of talk of whether we might see a baby boom with people bored in quarantine or possibly a baby bust, with so many out of work and scared of getting sick.

It's now been about 10 months and we’re getting our first look at the pandemic’s impact on pregnancy.

You may have been scrolling through your social media account lately and wondering, is it just me, or are all my friends announcing they're pregnant?

Four women at 5 On Your Side are pregnant, including TISL’s Allie Corey.

In the last two to three weeks, Dr. Maggie Marcrander, an OBGYN at Mercy, witnessed a huge increase in pregnant women coming into the office.

“It's exciting because I feel like, wow you know if it was just one or two trickling in that would be different. But I feel like I'm seeing people getting more comfortable and choosing to either get pregnant for the first time or grow their family," said Dr. Marcrander.

Dr. Marcrander and her colleagues have coined it the ‘Quarantennial Boom’ and is happy to see it. Especially after the pandemic forced a bit of a baby drought.

“In the beginning, there was this fear of, ‘I’m worried, how would my body respond, what would happen to my baby if COVID is in the community or if I get COVID,’” she said.

5 On Your Side reached out to St. Louis area hospitals to get a closer look at how the pandemic impacted birth rates.

Mercy saw a slight decline of about 130 fewer babies born at the end of 2020 compared to the same time in 2019. The 2020 birth rate at SSM St. Louis hospitals is 12.1% lower than in 2019.

Credit: KSDK News
Credit: KSDK News

All this considered, it’s important to keep in mind that the pandemic may not be entirely to blame.

Birth rates have been slowly declining in the U.S. for years as people wait longer to get married and women put career before starting a family. According to a study by the CDC, 2019 saw the lowest level for birth rates in 35 years.

So, just how possible is it that we could see this baby boom of ‘Quarantennials?’

“I do think we're going to see an uptick in March, April and May,” Dr. Marcrander said.

And if you're wondering if now is a good time to start or grow your family, Dr. Marcrander has this to say:

“I would say absolutely. If this is something that you want for your family, go for it. If f you can get vaccinated before you get pregnant, that would be a really great choice.”

As far as pregnant or breastfeeding women getting the vaccine, Dr. Marcrander said because it's not a live vaccine, they don't see it as posing a risk to women or their babies.

Still, pregnant women were not included in vaccine trials and she said that’s a conversation you need to have with your doctor.