Pandemic baby bump: Birthrates up as much as 30% in B.C. Interior hospitals last year

A pandemic baby bump in the B.C. Interior saw birthrates increase as much as 30 per cent in some hospitals last year.

Interior Health said there were 6,136 newborns delivered across 19 of the region’s hospitals in 2021, up from 5,647 the previous year. That’s an increase of nine per cent overall.

“I would like to congratulate all of the families who welcomed newborns last year and thank our dedicated maternity teams for ensuring the highest quality of care for these little ones and their families,” health authority president Susan Brown said in a statement.

The biggest surge in birthrate was recorded at Kootenay Boundary Regional Hospital in Trail, which saw deliveries jump from 182 in 2020 to 236 in 2021.

Trail midwife Jen Arnosti of Mountain Midwives told CTV News last year was the busiest of her career, both because of the increased number of clients and the additional precautions necessitated by the pandemic.

“If a mother is COVID-positive in pregnancy, we check on the babies more often with ultrasounds, non-stress tests,” Arnosti aid. “We watch the babies growth more closely.”

She expects Interior Health’s increase in birthrates was linked to couples spending more time at home during the first year of the pandemic.

“A lot of people told me they weren’t planning on having any more babies,” she said. “Then they’re suddenly spending more time at home, spending more time together.”

One of Arnosti’s clients learned she was pregnant the day of the husband’s vasectomy appointment.

“It was not planned,” Arnosti said. “Surprises are sometimes lovely.”

The highest number of births was recorded at Kelowna General Hospital, which recorded 1,808 deliveries last year – an increase of 12 per cent from the 1,611 recorded in 2020.

Not every hospital saw an increase; Creston Valley Hospital’s birthrate declined by six per cent, and a number of smaller hospitals grouped together by Interior Health – including 100 Mile House District Hospital, Boundary Hospital, Lillooet Hospital, Nicola Valley Hospital, and South Okanagan General Hospital – saw their collective birthrate decrease by 23 per cent.

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