Fewer Sunday's children

05/08/2002 10:00

Births are not spread evenly across the week. In 2001 about 15% fewer babies were born on Saturdays than on an average weekday. The number of births on Sundays was 20% lower. This has to do with the fact that hospitals and birth centres prefer not to induce births during the weekend.

Percentage of babies born per day of the week

Giving birth: never on Sunday?

Half a century ago there was hardly any difference in the percentages of births per day of the week. Then about one seventh of all children – just over 14% - were born on Saturdays and on Sundays as well. Since then the number of children born in the weekend has decreased steadily in the fifties, sixties and seventies. In 2001 only 12% of all children was born on either a Saturday or a Sunday. The drop in the percentage of ‘weekend children’ is accompanied by an increase in the percentage of ‘midweek children’. Wednesday is the day with most births, just ahead of Tuesday and Thursday.

Births in hospital

The relatively low number of weekend births has to do with the preference of hospitals not to induce births during the weekend when it is not necessary for medical reasons. The differences per weekday are substantially smaller for children born at home.

Number of births before, during and after Christmas, 2001

Few Christmas children

The number of births is not only low during weekends but also during holidays. This is clearly shown by the number of children born around Christmas in 2001. About 540 children were born both the day before and the day after Christmas. On Christmas itself there were about 130 fewer births, and on 26 December the number was down by about 100. On other holidays such as Koninginnedag, Sinterklaas, Easter, Pentecost and Ascension Day the number of births is also lower than usual.

Planning in spring, outcome in summer

The number of births per day also fluctuates per season: in the summer months July and August the number of births is higher than average. Studies show that women ‘plan’ the birth of their child for the spring, but because they often cannot become pregnant right away the babies are born in summer.

Andries de Jong