"Oh the weather outside is frightful and the fire is so delightful, so..." let's make a baby. Apparently that sentiment is shared by many couples in December since Christmas is one of the most popular days to conceive. That's why you probably notice so many mid to late September birthdays among your family and friends. Whether or not you're trying to conceive, it makes sense that cold weather and the desire to escape holiday stress drive people together more often between December holidays and the New Year.
According to a graphic from The Daily Viz, Sept. 9 is the most popular birthday in the US, meaning conception occurred around Dec. 17. So babymaking appears to be busiest a week before Christmas, perhaps coinciding with holiday parties or the simple urge to burn off seasonal stress. If you conceive on Christmas itself, your child may end up sharing the fourth most popular birthday of Sept. 17. Numbers two and three are Sept. 19 and 12, respectively, indicating conception dates of Dec. 27 or 20. So while many factors such as early labor or a scheduled C-section contribute to a baby's actual birthday as opposed to their due date, the data clearly shows that the 12 days of Christmas (or the eight nights of Hanukkah) are prime babymaking time.
While some people might think Valentine's Day would be the most popular time to conceive a child, the corresponding birthday of Nov. 7 ranks only 120 on the list of birthday popularity. Perhaps that is because people don't get Feb. 14 off from work and it often falls in the middle of the week. Some couples try to deliberately time a child's birth for a specific time of year, either because they want to avoid something like a holiday or because a certain month is more desirable to them than others. For example, a teacher who gets the summer off can have more time at home with her baby if she gives birth right at the end of the school year. And with many kindergarten enrollment cutoffs falling decisively on Sept. 1, parents may want to give Junior a birthday before then so they don't have to pay for an extra year of preschool.
So how should you prepare for sex during the holiday season if you're trying to conceive? Those who want to become parents can follow year-round fertility tips. While Christmas may be the most popular day to conceive, all your body cares about is your own personal menstrual or fertility cycle. One method for tracking your most fertile day is with an over-the-counter test to detect a surge in luteinizing hormone in your urine. A positive result means that ovulation is likely to occur over the next 24 hours, so you should get busy regardless of the date or day of the week. If you do end up conceiving around the winter holidays, you can tell your child a more fun story about their origins than simply "Mommy peed on a stick and then told Daddy we had to have sex that night."
And if you're not looking to receive the gift of pregnancy this holiday season? As always, the best way to avoid conception is to use birth control. A 1999 study in the UK found that condom sales increase in the week or so leading up to Christmas. This suggests people are preparing to have safe sex and avoid pregnancy. And it's never a bad idea to use more than one method of birth control because, well, things happen. Whether the condom tears or you forgot to take your pill, an extra form of birth control is extra reassurance that you won't find yourself welcoming a "surprise baby" nine months later.