PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD) — 3.6 million. That’s the number of births in 2020 reported by the CDC. It’s also the lowest number of babies born since 1979 and marks a 4% decline from 2019.
Lisa Smith, patient care manager of labor and delivery at OSF St. Francis Medical Center, said Peoria saw an increase in births from 2014 to 2018 but has seen a stark decline in the last three to four years.
“I have watched us decline by 30-40 births per month… Since 2018, we have seen more of a decline, rapidly in 2020, and then now what I’m watching this year is a little slower, but still a decline,” she said.
It’s a similar story with Jessica Worland, a local doula. She said she usually has three or four clients per month, but last year, she helped just three mothers.
“With any pandemic, global emergency kind of scenario, you’re going to see a dip in birth rates because of the added stress of the pandemic, the concerns with getting sick, the isolation of people,” she said.
Worland said her clients were worried about going to the hospital and contracting COVID-19, and only one out of the three did so.
“So labor and delivery is unique because you’re not actually sick, but you still have to go to the hospital have your baby… and they didn’t want to be like going through the emergency rooms to get up to OB then L&D,” she said.
Worland said her other two clients used a birthing center or had a home birth, a trend she expects to increase in popularity in the years ahead.
“If you are low risk and healthy, and baby is healthy, then there are out of hospital options.. and that’s becoming more appealing,” Worland said.
Smith said a shrinking birth rate can mean problems down the line.
“I think that we could be challenged to take care of our aging population, with a declining younger population and declining birth rate in our community,” she said.