Government shutdown baby boomers crowd D.C.-area maternity wards

WASHINGTON (WJLA) – Some federal workers apparently kept busy during last year’s government shutdown; exactly nine months have passed since the work stoppage and suddenly, local maternity wards are unusually crowded.

More babies are delivered at Sibley Memorial Hospital than at any other hospital in the District. But in the past few days, the hospital has gotten even busier. The staff at Sibley attributes the burst in babies to the government shutdown.

Sarah Heidarpour expected to deliver her newborn daughter, Lauren, on Monday. Doctors had planned to induce labor.

“They called 45 minutes before I was supposed to be there and said they had no room,” Heidarpour said.

When she and her husband, Ali, arrived at Sibley the next day, they concluded they are part of a baby boom.

“When I first saw how busy it was I said, ‘Well, all the husbands and dads were busy at the same time,’” Ali Heidarpour said, hinting at the federal government shutdown.

Sarah Heidarpour said, “My husband was off for the first two weeks of October and that is definitely when [Lauren] was conceived.”

Sibley’s maternity ward had 92 births as of July 10, 2013 and 119 as of the same date this year. Hospital staff quickly came to conclusions about what caused the abundance of babies.

“I did notice it is mostly the federal workers,” said obstetrician Dr. Maro Sarafian.

The government shutdown created uncertainty and anxiety for millions of federal workers, including the Heidarpours. But for them, it also led to something very special.

“We had no idea what was going to happen,” Sarah Heidarpour said.

“He was looking for a job and we ended up with this beautiful baby girl, so those two weeks were good for us.”

Sibley Memorial Hospital expects another baby boom in a few months—about nine months after a snowy winter, when many people were snowbound.