Back when we first heard of the coronavirus about a year ago, none of us would have guessed where we’d be today (still in semi-quarantine, still working from home in […]
Back when we first heard of the coronavirus about a year ago, none of us would have guessed where we’d be today (still in semi-quarantine, still working from home in our pajamas, the pandemic still raging on). We’ve witnessed many phenomena grow from the pandemic, (did you also bake bread at one point?), one of the most long-lasting of which is the Pandemic Baby.
While on the whole, we may be seeing a decline in babies born this past year, many people still chose to start their families in 2020, for a variety of reasons. Some were couples at home all the time together, with not much else to do. Others were couples or single parents who suddenly had a lot of time to think about their empty nest and whether it was time to start having children. Still others had already begun their family-building journey pre-COVID and were only just able to see the journey through in the past few months.
Regardless, many individuals with so-called “pandemic babies” have experienced pregnancy and parenting in a way that no one else really has. Maybe you are an egg donor who faced clinic visits with new social distance and mask policies. Or maybe you are an intended parent attempting to undergo IVF treatment during a pandemic. Or maybe you are a new parent undergoing the ups and downs of newborn parenting, without the usual support of friends and family. You have had an incredibly unique experience, and it has undoubtedly been difficult at times.
Below are some thought-provoking and informative articles regarding “pandemic babies” that you might find interesting and helpful as you navigate parenting and pregnancy during a global pandemic.
By Ashley Fetters, The Washington Post, December 24 2020
This Washington Post article follows Katy Dobson, who became pregnant right at the start of the pandemic and ended up giving birth in December. The article follows some of the unique struggles that Dobson has undergone being pregnant and parenting a newborn during this time, such as not having her partner attend medical visits, not being able to see family during her pregnancy, and not having many people even know she was pregnant. Anyone who has been pregnant and/or parented this past year can likely relate to the challenges (and unexpected rewards) of having a child during this time.
By Stav Dimitropoulos, National Geographic, September 3 2020.
This National Geographic article explores the potential genetic effect of the pandemic on babies born during it. Currently there is a long-term study being conducted on pregnant women in Canada to see if the isolation/stay-at-home orders caused by the pandemic have any epigenetic effect on the future baby.
There has been evidence that babies born during the Nazi-incurred famine in the Netherlands during the 1940s had higher rates of antisocial personality disorder and shorter lifespans. Similar results were found of babies born to women during Hurricane Sandy in 2012.
The current COVID study surveyed nearly 2,000 pregnant women and found that 37% of them reported clinical signs of depression and 57% reported signs of anxiety. However, no data is out yet and experts remind us that it is important not to confuse correlation with causation.
For the short term, the article says that there are things that parents can do to minimize the potential negative effects of the pandemic, such as having strong social support systems (even virtual ones) and maintaining good nutrition and sleep habits.
By Laura van Straaten, The New York Times, October 14 2020
One of the biggest struggles during the pandemic has been the inability to see others outside one’s household safely. This struggle is particularly difficult for parents of young children, young children that are not getting the usual amount of socialization during a critical time in their development. This article in The New York Times discusses this issue with experts in childhood development, many of whom are concerned: “There is going to be a bit of a collective lag in academic skills and in those executive-function skills that allow a child to navigate a classroom more easily” (Aliza W. Pressman, developmental psychologist).
For one thing, group settings (like daycare, preschool, and playgrounds) are where parents often notice, by comparison to other children, if their little ones have any developmental issues/slowdowns. Intervention is best at an early age, making the current isolation worrisome.
Many parents have been scrambling to find new ways to stimulate their young children’s growth, turning to educational programs via Zoom when they previously might not have considered such screen time.
However, the article stipulates that it is important not to despair; there are still plenty of opportunities for babies’ and kids’ growth at home, especially in the increased time with siblings and parents.
NPR, July 18 2020
Finally, NPR ran a fascinating and beautiful photo story on babies born during the pandemic, gathering contributions from over 600 photographers around the world. These photos are an intimate look into the lives of families who are undergoing home life in an unprecedented period in history. The photos are raw, joyful, heartbreaking, and important.