Can we blame the pandemic for Kelowna's baby bump or is it the start of a trend?
Interior Health (IH) is calling it a birth rate baby bump because the region saw a nine per cent increase in new arrivals from 2020 to 2021.
“Interior Health is happily welcoming our tiniest patients to the world as communities grow throughout the region,” IH president and CEO, Susan Brown said in a media release.
“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.”
That increase was felt at the Kelowna General Hospital (KGH). They welcomed 1,808 babies into the world in 2021 - 197 more than the previous year. It’s a 12 per cent increase and the greatest number of infants born to a hospital in the Interior.
This trend is what a local doctor is calling a ‘big bump’.
“We’ve had about the same number of births, around 1,600 or so for the last many years,” Dr. Marianne Morgan told Kelowna10. “We’ve never seen this many”.
She’s a family physician and the department head of family practice at KGH.
While Kootenay Boundary Regional Hospital delivered fewer babies than KGH at 54, the Trail facility led the province in terms of their overall 30 per cent jump from the previous year.
Morgan pointed out how locally, Kelowna is one of the fastest growing areas of Canada. But her department wonders how much the pandemic influenced people’s decision to start a family or have more children.
Her department plans to monitor future deliveries to see if this is a temporary bump caused by unique circumstances or if this is part of an upward trend.
The surge in births was a challenge for the maternity ward in Kelowna. Morgan explained it forced the hospital to change their scheduling, train more nurses for that department, and look to recruit more family doctors which she said are in short supply.
It also helped form a new committee for women’s initiatives.
“Historically women’s health hasn’t been as high a priority as some of the other things that get attention and funding,” Morgan said.
“So, family practice in obstetrics, pediatrics, midwifery, and nursing are all getting together to figure out how we make sure we give the best possible care possible to mums and babies.”
She said while this committee was being talked about before, the high birthrates caused a sense of urgency in it’s creation.
While the past year may have been a challenge for those in the maternity ward, Morgan said it was also a positive experience
“With COVID-19 there was so much to be sad about, the news was hard to look at. Seeing that people were trusting the system to continue to have families and babies, it’s hugely rewarding.”
Published 2022-03-22 by David Hanson
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