More babies are born around breakfast than any other time of day, according to birth certificate data in the U.S. from 2013, the most recent data we have. The report, from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, looked at birth rates in 41 states and the District of Columbia. It concluded the highest percentages of births occurred during the morning and midday hours – specifically between 8:00 a.m. and 12 p.m. during the weekdays.
So to what can we attribute this morning surge in births? Cesarean deliveries with no trial of labor were much more concentrated during the day, especially around 8 a.m. "This makes sense, as C-sections are usually scheduled during the daytime hours, and wouldn't be scheduled overnight or into the early hours of the morning," says Jennifer Wu, MD, obstetrician/gynecologist at Lenox Hill Hospital, New York City. But the data also found that non-induced vaginal births were more likely than cesarean and induced vaginal births to occur in the early morning. On Saturdays or Sundays, the data showed that births were more likely to occur between 11 p.m. and 5:59 a.m.
Research out of Stanford University published in 2005 found that babies born at night had a higher mortality rate in the first four weeks than babies born during the day. The study authors speculated that this was due to poorer staffing coverage or a decreased availability of services at night. But this wouldn't explain the phenomenon in every location. "In our hospital, there are pretty much the same number of doctors available throughout the day and evening," Wu says. So there wouldn't make a difference what time the baby is born, from a staffing or level of care standpoint.
As for the time of year that's busiest for births, it's September, according to Wu, which she attributes to many being conceived between Thanksgiving and New Year's Day. "We'll also see surge of births about nine months after a particularly bad winter, a big snowstorm, or a blackout in the New York City area," Wu says.
As for delivering on a holiday, there's no need to fret about lack of staff then, either. "People think delivering on a holiday might be a bad time, but the hospital is usually is a little bit quieter because most doctors wouldn't schedule a C-section on Thanksgiving, Christmas, or New Year's Day," Wu says.
And if you're thinking about scheduling conception for a certain timed birth, know that it's difficult to be that precise. "Planning your baby is tough because they can come three weeks early and about a week after your due date," says Wu.
While Wu doesn't find the CDC's findings particularly surprising, she says there isn't any medical reasoning behind why babies are born at a certain time. So if your baby wants to arrive in the middle of the night and your doctor says you're ready, go ahead and push, mama!