Local baby boom: Nearly 3,400 babies delivered at Memorial Hospital during COVID-19 pandemic

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BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) — We are more than 9 months out from the start of the pandemic. Rumors of a suspected baby boom were all the rage at the beginning of quarantine but did we actually get to see one? Memorial Hospital says the baby boom is here and records are being broken monthly.

“I’m sure as she gets older, we will tell her about how she was born during this pandemic,” new mom and NICU nurse Diana Jenkins said.

Savannah was one of the many babies born during the COVID-19 pandemic. A pandemic that gave birth to plenty of new terms including, ‘COVID Baby’.

“She was a COVID baby, she was created during the pandemic we did not stay six feet apart,” Jenkins said.

Nurse director for the Maternal Child ward at Memorial Hospital Brenda McMutrey said the anticipated pandemic baby boom is here.

“We did start seeing a baby boom here at Memorial Hospital. We’ve had more than 300 deliveries each month and it has been more than we have seen in the last decade,” McMutrey said.

Nationally, the birth rate has decreased by 1% annually since 2014, but according to the Kern County Department of Public Health, they saw a spike in births in December of 2020 with 1,036 new babies. These numbers include residents who were born out of Kern county but live in Kern and excludes those who live out of the county lines but were born in Kern hospitals.

In the past 11 months Memorial Hospital has delivered almost 3,400 babies.

“It was surprising that December was so busy, and when you think back 9 months, yeah it makes sense,” McMutrey said. “So to do over 300 deliveries in December is not normal. Also, in January we did over 300 again so just every month we are breaking records.”

Memorial Hospital allows one support person into the hospital with the expectant mother. At the time Jenkins was delivering baby Savannah, her hospital did not allow a support partner to stay with her long after the baby was delivered. As a new mom and NICU nurse herself, Jenkins understood the precautions and offers this advice.

“Have an open mind and be considerate and courteous to the staff, a lot of it is out of their hands, just like it was out of my hands, just like I couldn’t get any special privileges, you know,” Jenkins said. “We didn’t make the rules we are just trying to keep everyone safe and healthy, mom, baby, and you know supporting family.”

McMutrey says, with the limit of one guest in the maternity ward, the nurses have stepped in as an acting family and have shown more of their maternal side.

“We know that we are needed more so to be there for them it’s very important and my nurses have stepped up to that challenge.”

Memorial hospital said they expect their baby boom to continue for as long as people are spending time together at home.

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