For the natural world autumn and winter brings death and decay but new figures suggest British couples are at their most fruitful in the colder months.
More children were born in July in England and Wales last year than in any other month – a total of 61,422 – according to data from the Office for National Statistics. Most of those would have been conceived over October and November.
“Many women we speak to say they find it particularly difficult to access the contraception they need around the festive period”
The other months with the highest number of births were October (60, 519), September (60,289) and August (60,238) – corresponding to conceptions between November and February.
February and April saw the fewest births, with 53,437 and 55, 286 respectively.
The British Pregnancy Advisory Service suggested possible reasons for the trend could be a greater likelihood of staying in during winter, couples trying for a baby in the new year or “contraceptive slip-ups during the festive party season”.
Clare Murphy, from BPAS, said: “These statistics show that as the months get colder, the number of conceptions tends to increase.
“Many of these will be planned pregnancies,” she said. “October was one of the busiest months for birth, which could reflect some New Year’s resolutions to start trying for a baby in January. Others will be unintended conceptions which become much wanted pregnancies.
“Many women we speak to say they find it particularly difficult to access the contraception they need around the festive period as GPs and pharmacies may be closed, or pills get forgotten at home when they go away for Christmas,” she added.
“I am concerned that some women may be denied this choice because of midwife shortages”
The figures also showed the percentage of women giving birth at home remained unchanged from 2012 at 2.3%.
This prompted suggestions that a shortage of midwives may be limiting expecting mothers’ options for where they give birth.
Carmel Lloyd, head of education at the Royal College of Midwives, said: “It is encouraging that there has been no fall in the number of home births over the past year and the RCM would like to see this figure increasing in the future.
“Although there may be a number of reasons why women choose to have a homebirth but do not have one, I am concerned that some women may be denied this choice because of midwife shortages,” she said.
“Choice of place of birth is a key part of the government’s policy around maternity services and we need to ensure that the choices women make are honoured and delivered. Real choice is important because a woman has to be happy and comfortable with the environment in which she gives birth.
“The evidence shows that births in midwife-led units or at home are just as safe, possibly safer, for low risk women,” she added.
The ONS figures showed there was a total of 698,512 live births in England and Wales in 2013, of which 340,129 were girls and 358,383 were boys.
Some 10,783 mothers had a multiple birth in 2013 – including 10,593 who had twins, 187 who had triplets and three who had four or more babies in one birth.
Women aged 45 and over were most likely to have a multiple birth – 95 out of every 1,000 women giving birth in this age group had a multiple birth.