What causes blackouts during pregnancy

Alice Dircks holds her son tenderly in her arms. Little Paul-Hugo has only been born a few hours and is the pride of the 35-year-old mother. "Paul-Hugo is my first child, I'm really happy," she says with a smile. Nine months ago she made herself comfortable with her husband at home in Rheine - exactly at the time when the devastating snow chaos hit the Münsterland.

The result of the power-free days can currently be seen in the maternity wards of the hospitals. 250,000 people in the Steinfurt, Borken and Coesfeld districts were without electricity for days in November. They apparently moved closer together over candles and open fires: Some hospitals and registry offices in the Münsterland are currently reporting significantly more births than usual.

"Then you can imagine what you are doing"

The weather chaos was definitely the godfather of Alice Dircks's pregnancy: "I came from a business trip and hadn't seen my husband for three weeks," says the young mother. Because of the snowstorm, the two could not have done anything. "Then you can imagine what you're doing."

Other couples in the Münsterland apparently thought similarly. In the district town of Steinfurt, significantly more deliveries are expected in September: "We have around 50 births a month. In the next few weeks it will probably be 65. That was probably due to the power failure," says registrar Gudrun Frahling.

Biggest baby growth in eight years

There has not been a comparable increase in babies in the past eight years. In times of safe contraceptives and modern family planning, such a development is of course unusual. "But maybe you haven't found the thing in the dark," says the registrar with a smile. Even in the hospital in Ahaus (Borken district), employees are already talking about "snow chaos children".

In Gronau, Borken, Laer and Coesfeld, on the other hand, the number of births has tended to decline compared to other years, reports hospitals and registry offices. More births are not expected in the next few weeks either. "The fact that a power failure leads to a baby boom nine months later is perhaps a bit far-fetched," says Coesfeld registrar Marianna Wiesmann.

Positive result of an ugly memory

Stephan Schonhoven, spokesman for the Marienhospital Steinfurt, has even more doubts. "I am very skeptical that in freezing cold and without food, the right desire will arise." Numerous factors have to be right for pregnancy. "A fertilization doesn't work so easily. Or is the power failure supposed to have triggered the woman's ovulation?" notes Schonhoven ironically.

In the US, opinions are still divided as to whether or not the great blackout in New York and other major cities in the Northeast led to a baby boom in the 1960s.

Electricity supplier RWE Westfalen-Weser-Ems, whose masts collapsed in November, is quite neutral about the same discussion in Münsterland: "People had a difficult time. If more children are being born there now, that's a positive result of an unpleasant memory." says press spokesman Klaus Schultebraucks.

According to the hospitals, pregnancy can take up to ten months after conception. Until the end of September, more "snow chaos children" could see the light of day in the Münsterland. Those who are born afterwards really have nothing to do with the power failure - but the parents' joy does not decrease as a result.