In 2021, the number of childbirths in the HUS area increased by 1,518 on the previous year. It seems that the trend will peak in spring 2022.
The birth rate continued to grow in 2021. There were 15,753 childbirths in 2020 but 17,271 in 2021, representing an overall increase of 9.6% on the previous year.
Particularly large increases were recorded at Hyvinkää Hospital (+15.4%) and Lohja Hospital (+21.9%). The increase was 8.3% at the Women’s Hospital and 6.5% at Espoo Hospital. The Women’s Hospital and Espoo Hospital between them handled 79.4% of all childbirths in the HUS area.
During the year under review, 17,506 babies were born at HUS hospitals, including 232 sets of twins and 5 sets of triplets.
COVID brought challenges
The year under review was characterized by a surprising increase in childbirths, a high incidence of C-sections and the coronavirus pandemic.
C-sections were performed in 22% childbirths in HUS as a whole; the figure for the Helsinki Metropolitan Area was 23%. Some planned C-sections were taken over by Hyvinkää and Lohja Hospitals from the Women’s Hospital in summer and early autumn.
The situation at Hyvinkää was challenging, not only because of the increase in childbirths but because the maternity ward was housed in temporary premises.
“The renovation is thankfully now over, and we have gained use of the long-expected fifth delivery room,” says Head of Division Maija Jakobsson from Hyvinkää Hospital.
For nearly the entire duration of the renovation, postpartum patients were also accommodated at the Pediatric Inpatient Ward.
“We were stretched to the limit to find beds for postpartum patients, and we had to turn some mothers-to-be away to other hospitals. This, of course, affected the number of C-sections we performed.”
COVID actually had a positive impact in that it became obligatory to provide a private room or a family room for all mothers-to-be.
“Also, the online lectures and training sessions for health care professionals and specializing physicians have been excellent, and they have improved cooperation and further education.”
According to Aydin Tekay, Head of Emergency Services for Gynecology and Obstetrics, the delta variant of the coronavirus caused infections in pregnant patients and mothers-to-be at an accelerating pace, particularly towards the end of the year. Pregnancy increases the risk of serious COVID, but COVID vaccines provide an effective protection.
However, many mothers-to-be were hesitant about taking the vaccine. We recommend all pregnant women to take the COVID vaccine, and in 2021 we made a special point about informing our patients accordingly.
Lohja is popular for childbirths
The Maternity Ward at Lohja Hospital increased in popularity in 2021. For the first time ever, there were more than 100 childbirths in almost every month, December being the only exception.
Raija Räty, Head of Division at Lohja Hospital, reports that many mothers-to-be from other municipalities nearby come to the hospital to give birth.
“The popularity of Lohja Hospital as a maternity hospital must have something to do with our active social media channels, which young adults follow closely. They have fostered an atmosphere of familiarity and trust. Mothers-to-be will already know what our facilities are like before they come in, and who will be handling the delivery.”
Birth rate growth nearing peak
The birth rate began to rise in 2020, the first spring of the coronavirus. According to Seppo Heinonen, Director of Gynecology and Obstetrics at HUS, societal phenomena seem to have a major impact on the birth rate. However, it is difficult to predict in which direction and how much any given societal phenomenon will have an impact.
“On the basis of due dates, it would seem that the birth rate growth will peak and return to pre-pandemic levels this spring,” says Heinonen.