Post-pandemic baby boom? Why more couples are turning to fertility treatments

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LIBERTY HILL, Texas (KXAN) — Renata Kolesnikova has been trying for several years to have another baby. 

Renata Kolesnikova didn’t have any problems conceiving their daughter, but when it came time to have a second child they said it wasn’t as easy. (Courtesy: Renata Kolesnikova)

She thought they wouldn’t have any trouble getting pregnant. Her first born is already 5 years old and is asking for a sibling. 

“Nothing gets you harder than your kid begging for a baby,” said Kolesnikova. “I have a sibling and my husband has one and…something to be said about sibling, sibling relationships, and they’re beautiful. And so I want to be able to give that to her.”

She explained the pandemic only made her family realize how important it was to move forward with in vitro fertilization (IVF) treatments. 

“I can’t even talk without getting emotional. I just, it’s something we wanted for a long time. And we’ve always wanted at least two and it’s just taken way longer than we thought,” said Kolesnikova.  

National fertility rate plunges; not Texas

Dr. Kaylen Silverberg, medical director and a reproductive endocrinologist at Texas Fertility Center, explained that the pandemic has caused an urgency to have a baby. 

Nationwide, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data shows births are down by 4% and fertility rates have dropped also 4% in 2020. 

In Texas, the state health department numbers show a 2.5% drop in births from 2019 to 2020, though the numbers aren’t final. 

Dr. Silverberg said he’s seen a nearly 30% increase in fertility treatments at their locations across the state since late last summer. 

“People have had a lot of time on their hands. They’re not working, you know, from offices with set hours like they have been in the past. So they have more time to pursue this now,” Dr. Silverberg explained. “I think the whole pandemic shook the foundations of what we all think, as human beings. And it caused a lot of people to reassess what’s important and what’s not important.”

Pandemic jumpstart

Dr. Silverberg said what’s shocking to him is that couples are interested in jumping to aggressive treatments earlier, including IVF, instead of something less invasive. 

“They come in and it’s like, ‘look, I’m feeling pressure, I want to have a baby now, you know, let’s just jump right to in vitro fertilization, or let’s jump to something aggressive,’ rather than in the old days, people would come in, and we would go through pretty much of a step-by-step evaluation,” Dr. Silverberg said. “OK, this is what we think is wrong. Here are the options for treatment. Let’s start with the least aggressive.”

Renata Kolesnikova said she’s been trying to have another baby for years and wasn’t going to let the pandemic impact their decision to move forward. (Coutesy: Renata Kolesnikova)

He said another reason for the rush is because now more companies are offering health insurance coverage for fertility treatment, which can cost in the thousands. He’s even seeing more young women freeze their eggs. 

His team has started the Fertility Foundation of Texas which offers grants to help with treatments. He said often that’s a big obstacle many have to overcome. 

Kolesnikova ended up finding a job with a company that offered fertility benefits. Her family recently moved from the California area. 

She explained that they are grateful to have a great support system especially during the pandemic and are ready to move forward. 

Kolesnikova said her daughter is very excited to be a big sister. 

“You know, like every other day she’ll come in the room and she’ll say, ‘is there a baby in your belly yet?’ she said. 

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