Lunar Cycle: Do Full Moons Equal More Deliveries?

You see them at every hospital, doctors and nurses, standing outside of the labor and delivery wards, looking up at the sky. When you see them, you can be sure it's a busy evening for birthing babies. So, what's up? Could be, there's a full moon.

Blue Moon

The connection has never actually been proven, nonetheless it gets wide circulation: a full moon brings on all kinds of strange behavior, draws huge numbers of people to hospital emergency rooms, and prods women into labor and delivery. New Year's Eve of the year 2010 generated speculation that things would be even hairier than usual. There were two full moons within the same month. When there is a second full moon within one month, this is called a "blue moon."

Reporters gathered at one Illinois hospital on New Year's Eve to see what the doctors thought, "I personally believe that the full moon causes women to deliver more often," said family physician Dr. Miranda Huffman, who was on-call for New Year's at MetroSouth Medical Center in Blue Island. "It's a totally unreasonable belief, but I think that there's just a lot of things we're not able to see in science."

Weird Happening

Those who believe the theory attribute the weird happenings to changes in atmospheric pressure brought on by the lunar event. This, they believe has some kind of effect on the amniotic fluid that brings on labor. Scientific? Not.

No studies have ever been done to test the full moon theory and hospitals have never undertaken to keep and compare records for births occurring on those nights when the full moon is out in all its glory. Still, Huffman posits that women have more control over when their babies are born than they realize. For instance, she's noticed that there are very few women who give birth on Friday the 13th, a date considered to bring bad luck in its wake. Also, doctors have found that fewer women are having babies on Sept. 11, since the terrorist attacks of 2001. Women also tend to "hold back" and not give birth over the Christmas holidays too, which actually makes this a really good time to deliver, says Huffman.

Lunar Myths

But there are other theories. One such theory states that the full moon brings with it the most fertile time for women. If those women became pregnant during a full moon, it makes sense that they're ready to deliver on a full moon, nine months later. Perhaps the most remarkable thing about these theories is that physicians and nurses, who rely on science to ply their craft, have no trouble believing in these lunar myths, especially on the busiest nights.

Head midwife of MetroSouth Medical Center, Alicia Key says, "If we have an unusual number [of births], we will say, 'Is the moon full tonight?' We'll joke about it."

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