The COVID-19 baby dilemma: Why Canadians are rethinking parenthood in 2021 

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When Jessa Lira got married in 2017, she didn’t anticipate being ready to have kids for at least a few years; She wanted to travel and enjoy life as a newlywed for some time.

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She finally felt ready to start trying in early 2020, as COVID-19 hits.

Lira and her husband, who both live in Toronto, immediately reevaluated the plan because of their concerns about trying to have a baby in a pandemic: What would doctor’s appointments look like? Will she have to give birth alone? What were the health effects of contracting the virus while pregnant?

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“We knew for a fact that this was not the safest time to have a baby in times of pandemic,” Lira told Granthshala News. “So we decided to wait a few months and see how it goes.”

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Deciding to stop having children due to COVID-19, Lira and her husband join a growing number of Canadian couples who are deciding to delay having children or have fewer children than previously planned. Huh.

Nearly a quarter (24 percent) of Canadians aged 15 to 49 have changed their fertility plans because of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a Statistics Canada paper released Wednesday.

The study, conducted between April and June 2021, found that nearly one in five (19 percent) of Canadians now want to have fewer children, while 14 percent said they want to have a baby later than originally planned. want to be born. These answers were more common among people who did not already have children, or people from minority groups.

Medical professionals agree with the findings, saying that many of their clients’ plans to start or expand families were severely altered by the pandemic.

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Economic pressure, uncertainty about jobs and affordability were the main factors for those who delayed having children.

According to Statscan, despite rumors of a lockdown-induced baby boom, only four per cent of respondents to a wellness survey said they want more children now or sooner than before.

Experts say it is likely their families to reevaluate and spend excessive time at home being unable to travel abroad.

Canada is already considered a “late” childbearing country. In 2020, the average age of mothers at the time of delivery was 31.3 years old.

The country’s fertility rate has also been on a steady decline since 2008 – a trend seen in much of the Western world. France, England and the United States also reported fewer births in 2020 than in 2019.

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Since the start of the pandemic, this decrease has accelerated: Canada’s fertility rate dropped from 1.47 children per woman in 2019 Record low of 1.40 children per woman in 2020.

There were 13,434 fewer births in 2020 than in 2019, the biggest year-on-year decrease (3.6 percent) since records began and the lowest births in any year since 2006.

Tali Bogler, president of Family Medicine Obstetrics at St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto, said the decline was exacerbated by the pandemic.

Many of her clients were either delaying starting a family or shelving plans to expand their family due to recent economic pressures.

“I see young couples going through job insecurity and job loss and delaying, maybe a year from now, two years from now,” she said.

“And then I’m also seeing couples who have had one or two kids who might have thought about having a third child, and are now asking for a vasectomy for the partner and saying no, that’s it. “

The rising cost of living was a significant factor in those choices, she said. This was especially relevant for those living in the GTA, where home prices averaged around $1.2 million in October.

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“Affordability is a big concern for families. This has worsened during the pandemic, especially here in Toronto, and this can lead to further stress and further impact on desired family size and when people plan to have children. make,” she said.

This notion is supported by StatCan data, which showed that people living in one of the Atlantic provinces (16 percent) or Quebec (13 percent) were less likely to make changes to their paternity visit than those living in Ontario. (22 percent). The report’s authors pointed to Quebec’s low-fee childcare program, along with housing affordability and COVID-related economic pressures, as possible factors.

Affordability was a big factor in Samantha Trantor’s decision to stop after her second child, who was born in March 2021, also delayed getting pregnant due to the pandemic.

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Trantor planned to become pregnant in February 2020, the day after her son’s first birthday. When COVID-19 hit, the Waterloo resident says she “given up for a while,” because she and her fiancée didn’t have time to try to conceive.

“My job went from being in the office full time, to working from home and navigating that whole hurdle with a series of technology problems while trying to care for a freshman year old,” she said. said.

“It was difficult to find time just to spend together. By the end of the workday, we were both just so exhausted that the mere thought of being intimate was exhausting. ,

Trantor and her fiancé also called off the wedding, which was to take place in June 2020.

But as Ontario began to temporarily reopen a few months later, Tranter and her now-husband decided to go ahead with their wedding and get married in the backyard of a bed-and-breakfast with 20 guests.

He soon decided to expand his family. Trantor’s second child was…

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