There has been considerable discussion lately on this blog and several others as well as in the news media regarding whether people depart for the suburbs when they have a family. My experience this past week — and that of several friends over the past few months — would suggest that in Vancouver at least, an urban baby boom is underway.
Since I last needed maternity care (only two years ago), the situation has changed. The largest maternity facility in the area, BC Women’s hospital, now only accepts low-risk patients who live in Vancouver proper and not the suburbs (high risk patients are referred to this facility from throughout BC, however). And even with that restriction, they are running at capacity or beyond much of the time. Last week I lucked into the last delivery suite at BC Women’s hospital. Women with slow progressing labor were laboring in the hallways until rooms could be cleaned. I’ve had friends who were redirected elsewhere or had scheduled inductions postponed.
Indeed, almost all hospitals offering maternity and birth care in the Vancouver region are facing unprecedented demand and the health boards are trying to determine if this is a blip or a long term trend.
I think it’s a medium term phenomenon — an urban baby boom. Statistics Canada released a report last week indicating that more babies are now being born to women in their 30s than in their 20s. However, although I can’t find the numbers right now, my theory is that women in their 20s are not having fewer babies. Instead, more women in their 30s are having children. From observations of other parents in my densely populated, urban neighbourhood, it seems that generation x postponed parenthood while the millennials (or generation y) are having children in their mid-late 20s.
The result is both generations are having children at the same time — a baby boom. It will take a few years for statistics to confirm my theory, so we’ll have to see if I’m right. And, I would further assert that this baby boom phenomenon is related to the rise of cities as hubs for the knowledge economy, and the emergence of many new types of jobs and career options.
…oh, for those of you wondering… I had a baby girl last week. We’re thrilled. Everyone is doing well. And I should add that hospital care was wonderful, as the staff are handling the “high demand” with creativity, professionalism, and caring.