Fewer births during the weekends

11/07/2006 14:00

The number of children born in the Netherlands in 2004 totalled 194 thousand. The probability that children are born on weekdays has been increasing since 1950. Fewer and fewer children are born on Saturdays or Sundays.

Weekend or week day

The percentage of children born on a Saturday or Sunday is much lower than that for weekdays. On Saturdays and Sundays the average share is 12.1 percent. If deliveries were divided equally over the week, this would have been 14.3 percent.

Fewest births on Sundays

In the years 1950–1960 the number of births was more or less divided equally over the days of the week. After 1960 this slowly changed. In 1993 the number of deliveries during the weekend dipped to an average of 12.0 percent. Since that time the share remained more or less unchanged. The number of births is lowest on Sundays (11.7 percent).

Live born children by day of the week, 1945–2005

More births in hospitals

The share of deliveries at home has fallen from almost 80 percent in 1950 to about 30 percent in 2002. Until the late seventies, the change in the number of births per day of the week can be attributed to the substantial increase in the number of hospital births. The later dip is partly due to the increasing number of Caesarean sections. In many cases this operation can be planned.

Percentage of births at home, 1953–2002

Few births in clinics on Sundays

Births in hospitals are divided into births in policlinics and births in clinics . The births in clinics, about half of the total number of deliveries, take place considerably less often in the weekend and least of all on Sundays. This is mainly when there are no acute complications during the pregnancy. Deliveries that can be planned are normally scheduled on weekday. This can be the case for induced or caesarean procedures. Deliveries where the mother remains in hospital for at least four days are less often on Sundays (9.3 percent). Births outside clinics, which is the total of births in policlinics and at home, also take place relatively less often during the weekends, but the difference is much smaller than with births in clinics. It is unclear why these births also occur less often in weekends.

Births by days of the week and length of hospital stay, 2000–2004

Carel Harmsen and Suzanne Loozen