Herald Sun: COVID baby boom

Herald Sun – Saturday, 12 Dec 2020 – Page 13

Births to rise 30pc

MIDWIVES across Victoria are gearing up for a post-COVID baby boom with maternity bookings at some hospitals already skyrocketing for the new year.

While the coronavirus pandemic cancelled many plans in 2020, some people took the time to slow down, prioritise and even start a family.

Epworth Freemasons in Melbourne is expecting 272 new arrivals in February — a bump of 20 per cent more than last year’s numbers — and about 300 babies in March, an increase of almost 30 per cent on 2019.

Ipapandi Xuereb, the hospital’s post-natal nurse unit manager, said it was “exciting” .

“Usually we see an increase in birth numbers in September and October because it’s post Christmas and New Year,” she said. “To see it around March will be unusual. But having a ward at full capacity is always fun.

“It’s why we’re midwives, it’s why we go into it. It’s very exciting.”

Ms Xuereb said while challenging , the pandemic had given obstetricians and midwives more time with patients, helping them feel supported.

“( We) had a lot more time to spend with patients and explain things, and patients left feeling like they could tackle being parents,” she said.

“Pre-COVID people had things to do, they were constantly busy and COVID has put a stop to that. I think that’s played a big part (in the baby boom).”

Numbers are set to double in February at the Epworth’s Geelong campus and increase by 38 per cent in March.

At the Royal Women’s Hospital estimated births is about the same, with preliminary figures showing no significant increase. But there was a spike in the number of women freezing their eggs post-lockdown .

No 1 Fertility specialist Lynn Burmeister saw an average of 65 new patients a week following Melbourne’s second wave, with egg collections up 70 per cent in September.

“Many women have come to us for egg freezing saying it’s too hard to meet a partner in the current COVID climate,” Dr Burmeister said. “Being at home, in isolation, led a lot of couples to the realisation that they want a baby in their lives.”

Mum-to-be Priscilla Giannarelli and husband Anthony always wanted a family and after squeezing in a pre-COVID wedding on February 14, felt it was just the right time.

“We wanted to have a family straight away, and by then COVID had well and truly struck,” Ms Giannarelli said.

“While there’s a lot of bad things that have happened this year, two really good things happened for us which we’re very grateful for.”

Ms Giannarelli, who is due on the couple’s first wedding anniversary, described the baby boom as a “moment in history” .


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