There’s been a lot of talk in the last several weeks about the potential for a generation of quarantine babies, theoretically conceived while we’re all inside.
The idea is that couples are staying home, and while many are working from home or not working at all, people have more time to get frisky. That may not be the case for most couples, though.
As every single article, Instagram post, and marketing email attests, people are stressed right now. Stress has a huge impact on our sex lives, both physically and emotionally. It’s about survival. In times of stress, our bodies go into survival mode to get through the crisis rather than procreate.
Physically, stress can cause an overproduction of the hormone cortisol, which can lead to a decrease in libido. Stress can also cause depression and anxiety, both of which can have serious effects on a person’s sex drive.
People are stressed and they are likely having less sex, despite all the extra time to kill. Less sex means fewer babies.
For the couples who still are getting it on while COVID-19 rages outside the bedroom door, it’s unclear that all that hypothetical sex going to lead to a baby boom.
Although modern access to contraception is still nowhere near perfect, it does allow many couples to have control over whether now is the right time to bring a child into the world. All the jokes about quarantine babies aside, it’s likely that a great many couples will decide that right now is not the time to reproduce.
Why A Quarantine Baby Boom is Unlikely
Before COVID-19, birth rates had been steadily declining for several years in the United States. This decline is due to several factors, but one major contributor is the economic instability leftover from the Great Recession of 2008, making it harder for people in their traditional childbearing years to have the kind of financial security that is often a prerequisite to having children.
Now, millions of Americans are facing that same financial uncertainty that the country experienced in 2008. Unemployment numbers are booming. The pandemic has left many with little to no income and no financial security for the future.
This kind of financial instability generally leads people to hold off on having babies. People will hold off until the idea of the American Dream returns to feasibility if it ever does. Babies are insanely expensive. They require a great deal of stuff, and the medical bills alone are enough to be a real problem.
With no job and greatly reduced income, paying for a baby starts to look much less appealing.
The Issue Isn’t Just Financial
The crisis we are all facing is not just financial. COVID-19 first and foremost is a health crisis. The risk to pregnant people and their babies who contract COVID-19 is still being studied. However, any serious disease must be terrifying when you are carrying another human life.
Hospitals may not seem as safe as they usually would. Every outing to the doctor’s office or the hospital comes with the fear of potentially contracting COVID-19.
In some places especially hard hit by the virus, people are having to give birth without their partners or anyone else present. As if giving birth isn’t difficult enough, doing it alone under these circumstances is nearly unthinkable. Anyone who is doing this is tough as nails. All of these factors are almost certainly discouraging some people from embarking on the journey of parenthood right this second.
Everyone freaking out on social media about how they’re trapped at home with their bored kids probably also isn’t helping. If I were a betting woman, I would bet that we won’t be seeing a boom of babies conceived in quarantine. When this is all over though, all bets are off.