How Has COVID Affected Your Decision to Not Have Children?

White sign on wooden table, orange background. Sign says: Not today, #COVID 19

When COVID hit us in 2020, people predicted a new baby boom. After all, with so many people forced to stay home together, wouldn’t they be having more sex? Wouldn’t people emerge from lockdown preggers or showing off new babies? 

So far, it hasn’t turned out that way. Birth rates actually declined for a while. The surge may still be coming, but maybe not. Things are different from when we had baby booms after the Great Depression and World War II. Pandemic or not, people are already having fewer babies in many parts of the world. Although couples may have been spending more time together in 2020 and 2021, perhaps working remotely on their laptops side by side at home and maybe even having more sex than usual (did you?), there are lots of reasons why they might keep using the birth control, including:

  1. Fear of illness. What if they got COVID while pregnant? What if they got very sick and died? 
  2. Lack of access to medical care. Remember when you couldn’t get a doctor’s appointment unless you were dying, when you had to jump through many hoops to get in the door of a clinic or hospital, when non-emergency procedures were canceled or postponed?
  3. Fertility treatment centers closed or greatly curtailing their work 
  4. Financial upheaval, people losing their jobs, businesses closing, nobody sure what would happen
  5. Adoption agencies closing or limiting services
  6. Bad news every day: illness, climate change, mass shootings, war–why bring a child into such a frightening world?
  7. Watching friends and relatives with children struggle with lack of childcare and remote schooling
  8. The difficulty of dating during a pandemic

The isolation period has pretty much ended, although we know it could come again. Things have reopened, but COVID is far from over. In fact, there’s a new booster shot coming soon. More people I know have gotten the disease lately than did before, although fewer are being hospitalized and dying.  

You know all of this. What I want to ask is how it affected the baby discussions at your house. Did you and your partner talk about changing your plans to have or not have babies? Or did COVID make no difference at all? Did the troubles of the last few years just cement your partner’s refusal to procreate? Do you know anyone having pandemic babies? 

Let’s talk about it in the comments. I really want to hear what you have to say. 

Photo by cottonbro on

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Births are Up–In Some Places

A report released yesterday on AOL by the National Center for Health Statistics shows that a record number of babies, 4.3 million, were born in the U.S. last year. That’s a lot of diapers. It was the largest number of births reported since 1957, the middle of the baby boom.

People have been talking about a baby “boomlet” for a while, but it’s not the same as in the ’50s when all the moms were about the same age, in their 20s, living in suburbia with their post-military husbands who were employed in the economic boom. On my street, every family had children about the same age. Not any more.

Demographer Arthur Nelson of the University of Utah, Salt Lake City, is quoted in the AOL report as saying that this boom won’t be nearly as big as the 1950s version. It can’t because so many of us remain childless. Plus the babies are coming from different groups, primarily immigrants, professional women who waited until their 40s to have children, and the 20-to-30-year old children of the original boomers. It’s just happening all at the same time. In a few years folks may wish they hadn’t turned so many schools into senior centers and shopping malls.

Although the numbers are up in some areas, it’s important to look at WHO is giving birth. Another report this week, coming from Melborne, Australia notes that the rate of childlessness among 20-to-44-year-old professional women is up to a whopping 62.5 percent. The overall childless rate among Australian women of that age group is 40 percent.

My point to this meandering wash of statistics? Having children in your 20s or 30s is not a given anymore. Although the overall birth rate may rise and fall, now that we have legal abortion and birth control, there will always be a segment of the population that does not have children, and we are too big a group to be ignored. People cannot assume that women of a certain age are mothers and grandmothers. They must consider the possiblity that all we have raised are puppies and goldfish.