The economic slump may be affecting the sex lives and family planning of residents in a way that could have an impact on family dynamics for generations to come.
The doctors Andrea Dameron works with at The William W. Backus Hospital’s birthing center in Norwich, Conn., have teased her that she might want to take a vacation in November.
That’s when they expect a boom in deliveries in the maternity ward. And at a recent open house for expectant mothers, hospital organizers say they hosted more people than ever.
It turns out the economic slump may be affecting the sex lives and family planning of residents here in a way that could have an impact on family dynamics for generations to come.
In some cases, couples are delaying having a baby out of financial considerations. But one of the other significant consequences, based on anecdotal evidence, may be a mini baby boom.
“I think the economy is forcing more people to stay home and so they tend to seek entertainment and comfort in each other’s arms,” said Dameron, clinical educator at the hospital’s birthing center.
In other words, more sex means more chances for pregnancies. In some of those cases, birth control refills are deemed too expensive after someone loses their job and their health insurance.
“Back in October, when the market crashed, I said watch, there will be a baby boom come July,” said Amy Camassar, part owner of Papoose in Norwich. “We have seen, since January, tons of pregnant moms, so many more births, even in the last two months. People are staying home.
They are not going out to the movies. They are not going out to dinner and they are doing the fun stuff at home.”
Camassar has also seen more customers purchase cloth diapers and mothers opt for breast-feeding instead of feeding their babies formula as cost-saving measures.
Dr. Erica Kesselman, of Day Kimball OB-GYN, said she is seeing between 20 and 25 pregnancies per month, double the amount from the same time last year. But her practice has added two doctors, which partly explains the increase.
Kesselman wonders if some of the spike in pregnancies is because military personnel are coming home from war, similar to what happened after World War II, though on a much smaller scale.
Kesselman said there are several other possible reasons.
“I don’t know, cold winter?” she said with a laugh.
She’s also seen more people go on birth control because they fear getting pregnant when they can’t afford it. In those cases, a spouse has typically become unemployed.
But not all experts in the region are seeing the trend of increased pregnancies.
Dr. David Kalla of OB-GYN services in Norwich, said the number of positive pregnancy tests for the first four months of this year — 171 — is one less than last year at the same time.
“Everyone always assumes it’s true,” Kalla said of a baby boom triggered by certain extreme conditions, such as a recession or war.
But Kalla said he doesn’t believe difficult economic times are going to lead to a significant increase in births in general.
Anna Griggs, 25, of Danielson, Conn., is seven months pregnant. She said the economy had no bearing on her and her husband’s decision to start a family.
“When you think about starting a family, you are going to worry about money no matter what the economic situation is,” she said. “But you make sacrifices and it’s worth it to start a family.”
Her husband, Matthew, is a cook at a Danielson restaurant. Anna Griggs was a hairdresser, but the business she worked at is closing. She plans to go back to school for nursing. In the meantime, the couple plans to go out to eat a little less, shop for new clothes a little less and rent movies more than going to the movies.
Putting off pregnancy
Dr. Steven T. Raheb, of the Women’s Health Center of Putnam, Conn., said he knows some working couples who are delaying starting a family because of the economy.
But he has not seen a decrease in the number of patients who want treatment for infertility. They generally feel this is an ideal time in their lives to start a family because of their age and health and are moving ahead despite the economy, he said.
Raheb has seen a slight uptick in the number of younger, unmarried couples who don’t work or who have limited access to contraception or limited means for entertainment, and who are having babies without worrying about the economy.
Angela Willson, the United Community & Family Services case manger for Healthy Start in Norwich, said lately she sees a lot more unemployed clients.
Healthy Start provides insurance and case management services to low-income pregnant women. Many of the pregnancies are unplanned.
“Most of them are stressed about how they are going to pay the bills,” she said.
Meanwhile, Dameron said her prenatal classes at Backus typically have between three to five participants. She’s now seeing between 15 to 20 people. And if the economy stays where it is or gets worse, she anticipates an even bigger boom.