TAMPA — There’s been a baby boom at Hillsborough County’s largest hospital.
Tampa General Hospital delivered more than 7,000 babies from October 2021 to the end of September.
That’s the most deliveries in a fiscal year since 1990, said Judette Louis, chief of the hospital’s Women’s Institute. She is also chairwoman of the department of obstetrics and gynecology at the USF Health Morsani College of Medicine.
By contrast, there were about 6,500 deliveries from October 2020 to September of last year, according to hospital spokesperson Phil Buck.
The number of births in Hillsborough County during the pandemic’s first year dropped to 2013 levels with only about 18,800, according to the Florida Department of Health.
However, the number of new infants rebounded to over 19,200 last year, according to preliminary health department data. The state has yet to release final countywide numbers for 2022, but Tampa General Hospital recorded an influx of births between late 2021 and this fall.
Nationally during the pandemic, U.S. births dropped in 2020 and increased in 2021, according to the National Center for Health Statistics. Then, during the second quarter of 2022 — when compared to the same time period last year — they dipped again.
It’s unclear why the number of deliveries at Tampa General Hospital has risen so dramatically. But Louis has a few theories.
Many pregnant women moved to the area from different states and other parts of Florida during Tampa Bay’s pandemic-era population growth, Louis said. They needed care and were able to get it at the hospital.
Some obstetrics offices closed during COVID-19, she added, and others may have lost staff and been unable to accept new patients. That could have led to increased demand at Tampa General Hospital.
The hospital’s reputation for providing high-quality care also played a role in the uptick in deliveries, she said.
Tampa General Hospital was ranked No. 40 in the country for obstetrics and gynecology services in U.S. News & World Report’s 2022-23 “Best Hospital” rankings. It was the highest-ranked hospital in Florida for this specialty.
“We always say, ‘where you deliver matters,’” said Melissa Golombek, senior administrator of the Women’s Institute and the TGH Children’s Hospital. “You can come in and have a non-eventful pregnancy,” but the hospital also has specialists who will “take care of you when something is very unplanned and it is a medical emergency.”
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The hospital’s fourth floor includes, among other features, 21 delivery rooms, four operating rooms for pregnant mothers and a neonatal intensive care unit, or NICU, a special nursery for babies born sick or too early.
The NICU can accommodate up to 94 newborns. It’s the size of a football field, according to the hospital.
Elsewhere on the fourth floor, Shayne Marx was recovering Wednesday from a cesarean section.
Marx, of South Tampa, underwent the procedure Tuesday. Her baby daughter, Peyton, was born around 11:15 a.m. — five days before Marx’s 31st birthday on Sunday. Peyton was 8 pounds, 12 ounces.
Just over 24 hours after the surgery, Marx held Peyton to her chest, smiling and resting in bed. Peyton was bundled up in a tiny pink blanket, seemingly half asleep as Tampa Bay Times reporters spoke with her parents.
Marx gave birth at the hospital because it was close to home, said her husband Bryan, 32, and because friends had babies at the medical center, too. (The couple has lived in the area for years.)
It was a great experience with friendly staff, the family said Wednesday.
Marx leaned down, gently kissing her day-old daughter’s forehead.