A new report from the National Center of Health Statistics in the United States has confirmed what many birth workers already knew: the highest percent of babies are being born between morning and midday, during a weekday. The 9-5 birth concept is certainly not new, but now a study is proof that birth is changing and evolving along with modern life.
One of the reasons behind this finding is due to the huge increase in c-section and induced births over the last few decades. Both procedures are able to be scheduled in at a comfortable hour of day.
The study's authors analysed data from the birth certificates of 90% of U.S. births in 2013. Data accounting for the full 100% of births will be available in 2016.
Some of their key findings include:
- C-section births were the least likely to occur during the evening and early hours of the morning
- Non-induced vaginal births were most likely to occur in the early hours of the morning
- Births on Saturday and Sunday were more likely to occur in the late evening or early morning hours
If births were equally distributed throughout the day, 4.2% of babies would be born every hour. However, the highest percentages of births occurred during between 8:00 a.m. and midday, which can be clearly seen in the graph below.
Caesarean births were at their highest at 8:00 a.m. (11.6%) followed by midday (7.4%). Where there was no labour (for example, a planned c-section), labor peaked at 8:00 a.m, and then to a lesser extent, during midday. Caesarean births with labour (an emergency c-section) rose throughout the day from 6:00 a.m. They peaked at dinner time – from 5:00 p.m. to 6:59 p.m. Coincidence?
Induced vaginal births increased during the morning hours, peaking at 3:00 p.m. They declined from 6:00 p.m. onwards.
Non-induced vaginal births were the most evenly distributed births across the day, wavering close to the average of 4.2%.
Comparing In Hospital vs Out Of Hospital Births
The study found that out of hospital births — for example, homebirths — had their own unique pattern, unlike that found in hospitals. These births declined between 6:00 a.m. to 2:59 p.m., and aside from one upwards trend at midday, they increased from 3:00 p.m. to 3:59 a.m. Following a brief dip at midnight, out of hospital births were most likely to occur in the early morning hours of 1:00 a.m. to 4:59 a.m. This peak time was when the lowest percentages were observed for hospital births.
Because out of hospital births tend to have less medical intervention, they were able to display a more natural example of birth distribution. Oxytocin, the labour hormone, is believed to be at it's highest at night. So when the sun goes down, oxytocin levels come up. We feel safe, relaxed and away from bright lights. Many women go into labour naturally at this time — although you can go into labour at any time of course! Even a mother cat will find somewhere dark and quiet to hide at night so she can have her kittens — we can definitely learn a thing or two from our feline friends.