COVID Baby Boom? Avera Sees Increase in Births
When the Sterrett family welcomes baby No. 3 later this year, they’ll do so with a focus on delivering a healthy baby rather than worrying about COVID-19.
After all, Brandie Sterrett had her second child at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, delivering a healthy baby boy.
“It’s a similar experience as we go through our prenatal care, except this time around, it isn’t so scary because we’ve all had time to grasp how COVID affects our everyday life,” Sterrett said.
Sterrett is part of the baby boom Avera doctors expect to see starting this spring after a lull in births for the past couple of months.
A Rise in Baby Deliveries
Molly Uhing, MD, Avera Medical Group OB/GYN specialist, along with her team, are extremely busy this spring with obstetrics patients who are due or nearly due.
“Typically, our clinic delivers about 200 babies per month,” said Uhing. “We delivered about 160 babies in February, and we’re expecting about 260 babies to be born in March.”
At the beginning of the pandemic, people speculated a rise in pregnancies. However, that wasn’t the case.
“The uncertainty of the future and continued lockdowns across the nation caused many couples to avoid getting pregnant,” said Uhing. “Nationally, deliveries are down by 10% this year.”
However, South Dakota had lighter restrictions compared to other states, allowing many people to return to work with safety protocols in spring and summer. “This added sense of security encouraged people to move forward with their plans of getting pregnant,” said Uhing.
Delivering During a Pandemic
Avera women’s services responded to the pandemic swiftly and made changes to their care model to accommodate women who were expecting or receiving other forms of women’s health care.
“We slimmed down the number in-person appointments with patients,” said Uhing. Her team often utilized the convenience of virtual visits offered through AveraChart for prenatal and postnatal care, consultations and follow-up visits.
When in-person care was needed, for example, for ultrasounds, staff wore personal protective equipment at each interaction and before entering the facility, each patient was checked for COVID-19 symptoms.
Sterrett welcomed her second child in mid-April 2020. She and her husband weren’t overly worried about entering a hospital setting, but very curious about how this experience would compare to the birth of their first child.
“I have a lot of faith in our health care system, that they were taking the necessary safety precautions, as my husband and I were — by wearing a mask to the hospital and keeping our hands clean,” said Sterrett. “I was more concerned about having my baby than contracting COVID.”
After baby was born, Sterrett took advantage of virtual visits through her AveraChart for postnatal care.
For her third pregnancy she continues to observe safety protocols of wearing a mask and social distancing, and appreciates the continued precautions Avera implements to keep all patients and visitors safe.
Learn more about gynecology and reproductive health at Avera, and then schedule an appointment with one of Avera’s OB/GYNs for personalized women’s care.