As much of the world settles into a new routine of social detachment, couples are likely to have much more free time at home to curl up together.
At first glance, you might think that couples with extra time on their hands would do things that could lead a stork to visit nine months from now.
However, with US Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, terrible scenarios and a possible 20% unemployment rate, couples whose jobs are vulnerable in this economy are likely to think again about starting their parenting journey this spring.
Then there is the possibility of more couples breaking up. An official of the marriage registry in China said he saw peak related to quarantine in divorces, showing that more time indoors may be doing more harm than good to some couples.
But, for couples facing this storm together, is this the moment when many will choose to increase their litter?
BABIES CAN FOLLOW SMALL THEMES
"I don't expect a baby boom in nine months," Dr. Renee Wellenstein, an expert on OB / GYN and functional medicine in northern New York, told CNN.
In a less severe context, such as a snowstorm, for sure – it is quite common to see an increase in births nine months later.
She noted that couples spend more time snuggling indoors during late fall and winter. Consequently, "in the northeast, we see more babies in late summer and fall," she said.
Studies confirm his clinical observations.
A 2007 article by scientists at the University of Texas and Johns Hopkins University argued that relatively small storm advisory events that caused power outages had mild positive effects on increasing the birth rate. However, "more serious" storms that cause death and destruction have had a demonstrable negative impact, reducing the birth rate.
BUT GREATER DISASTERS CAN REDUCE BIRTH RATES
"Illness, quarantine and death can have a major impact on conception, pregnancy and birth," wrote scholar Lyman Stone in a article published in March by the Institute for Family Studies.
"Previous academic literature has shown that high mortality events as diverse as hunger, earthquakes, hot flashes and illnesses have very predictable effects in reducing births nine months later," he said.
Stone analyzed birth trends following recent catastrophes, including hurricanes Maria and Katrina in the U.S., as well as the 2015 Ebola outbreaks in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea. All of them have led to sharp declines in birth rates.
A big progression jumps: "Events that cause a big increase in deaths tend to cause a big decrease in births nine months later," writes Stone.
On the other hand, events like the Cuban Missile Crisis and the Oklahoma City bombing may have led to higher birth rates, due in part to their effect on the American psyche, causing couples to become more attached.
IT CAN REALLY BE DIFFICULT TO GET PREGNANT NOW
While being snowy can be a little fun and lead to romance, the pandemic is stressful for couples: "[A] libido is low and menstrual cycles may be out," said Wellenstein. "It may not be possible to conceive because of this."
But for couples who still feel like it, Wellenstein said he would "absolutely not" advise anyone to get pregnant now, due to the uncertainty surrounding Covid-19. "You can postpone conception and get pregnant," she said.
There are several risk factors, starting with the fact that there is simply less care available in many areas, as hospitals prioritize more resources to help Covid-19 patients get in.
And for women who are already pregnant, each trip to the hospital during the pandemic carries additional risks.
"It is never ideal to have any infectious disease during pregnancy due to the unknown impact on the child," said Wellenstein. "Entering a hospital puts her at risk."
Regardless of where science finally reaches the transmission of the new coronavirus in the placenta, it is not a risk worth taking, says Wellenstein. After the baby is born, we know with certainty that she is at risk of carrying viruses with whom she can come into contact.
THERE IS A LOT OF UNCERTAINTY AROUND THE VIRUS
Although we are still unsure, preliminary studies available to date seem to argue against coronavirus transmission during pregnancy.
A study recently published in the journal JAMA Pediatrics focused on 33 pregnant women who were infected with coronavirus. This showed that, in the first week of life, only three of the newborns had a positive result.
But experts believe that babies contracted the virus once they were in the world – and not while they were in their mothers' wombs.
"Since all babies have had amniotic fluid and cord blood tested for Covid-19 with negative results, this is evidence against the virus being transmitted from the mother to the fetus via the placenta," said Dr. Andrew Whitelaw , professor emeritus of neonatal medicine at the University. from Bristol, told the Science Media Center in the UK.
However, doctors fear whether a mother could expose her child to the virus after birth.
Dr. Leana Wen, a former health commissioner from the city of Baltimore, told Dr. Sanjay Gupta of CNN that she was afraid of being infected during a critical time in her life – and of the baby.
"I am almost 39 weeks pregnant at the moment we are talking," she said. "I mean, I have a recurring nightmare about contracting Covid-19 and having a birth where I have to wear a mask."
"And if my newborn got sick," continued Wen, "she would be extremely sick because she has no immunity and babies are so fragile. And I know many other pregnant women who have their own anxieties in this situation." Since Covid-19 is a respiratory virus, if the mother coughs and then coughs into the hand and touches the baby's hand, she can infect the newborn in this way. "
CDC recommendations include having safeguards separate the mother and the newborn.
Wait until things return to normal
It is still too early to make substantial forecasts of the birth rate. We do not know how long this year's pandemic will continue to be cruel, what are the long-term effects on young people, or the extent of the global deepening economic recession can reach.
The story has examples of a high birth rate after the tragedy: the historic Baby Boom generation is made up of people born in the post-World War II years in the United States, between 1946 and 1964.
Scholars point to many causes, but generally agree that, after the turmoil of the Great Depression and World War II, couples found it more realistic to raise children with relative calm and economic prosperity. after the war.
The birth rate decreases and flows. And with any baby boom related to the coronavirus, it can manifest itself when things look safe again.
Although Stone says the coronavirus can lead to a short-term decline, its analyze shows that birth rates may recover again in the next one to five years.
"A few months after the situation resolves, you can start having more pregnancies," said Wellenstein.