Pandemic baby boom in KELOLAND


SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — After nearly a year of spending more time at home due to the pandemic, local experts are taking a look at what 2021’s birth rate in South Dakota may look like.

At the start of the pandemic, researchers predicted a baby boom would soon follow due to couples spending more time at home.

“In obstetrics, we, we joke a lot. We always know we’re going to have a bump in babies about 40 weeks after things like Christmas, New Year’s, Valentine’s day,” Dr. Kimberlee McKay said.

While South Dakota is on track to see more babies born, national predictions have changed showing a baby bust, instead of a boom.

“South Dakota has done everything kind of different, so why wouldn’t we be different in this sense?” McKay said.

McKay says Avera projects births to be 15% to 20% higher than usual, and that number could be even higher with other local health care systems included.

“As people started to understand that they had a lot more control over their exposures by wearing masks, by avoiding large gatherings. I think people settled into, well, you know what? I’m not going to stop living my life. And so here we are,” McKay said.

“For us as a family, we really, the pandemic, didn’t play a whole lot into like, okay, we’re not going to have a child right now, we are going to right now, we just knew we wanted a third baby. And the time was right for us in our family,” Melissa Leuning said.

Leuning is expecting her third child. She and her husband have been employed throughout the pandemic and felt safe in their decision.

“So it was really about for us just, we stayed home a lot. We still stay home a lot. We wear masks, we wash our hands,” Leuning said.

And with Avera’s telehealth expanding in part due to the pandemic, McKay says rural pregnant patients can receive the same care at home as they would in person.

“We started a remote monitoring for our COVID positive pregnant patients. And that was quite successful and we have a number of just, pretty incredible saves on these moms and babies,” McKay said.

Allowing where you live not to determine the kind of care you receive, especially for those making the decision to expand their families.

For information about receiving the COVID vaccine while pregnant or breastfeeding, click here.

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