Bendigo Health is anticipating a baby boom in 2021, with birthing projections for the first half of the new year set to eclipse existing records.
Bendigo Health’s record birthing month was 152 babies in July 2020. Bookings for January to March currently sit at 160, rising to 180 by the second quarter of 2021.
In January 2020, 128 babies were delivered at Bendigo Health.
Clinical director of obstetrics and gynaecology Dr Nicola Yuen said the COVID pandemic had an impact on the birthing rate.
“A lot of people have reassessed their priorities and what matters to them. Overseas travel is on the backburner and family is coming to the forefront,” she said.
“Some people who may have found themselves without a job are choosing this as a good time to have a baby before going back into the workforce. There’s also lot of surprise COVID babies so I wouldn’t say it’s all necessarily planned.”
Bendigo Health’s birthing rate in 2020 has increased by roughly seven per cent, with the health service treating more high-risk pregnancies from the Loddon Mallee region.
Dr Yuen said more women from areas south of Bendigo had decided to birth in Bendigo.
“We are seeing more women who are choosing Bendigo as they’re hospital to go to rather than a metro hospital,” she said.
“The pandemic did support regional Victoria because we were somewhat protected from the impacts of the pandemic in the metro hospitals and some women have made choices that they feel safer and well looked after in their regional hospitals.”
Dr Yuen said lots of pregnant women had high levels of anxiety when COVID hit, creating an increase in perinatal mental health issues across the state during the pandemic.
“That is something we are actively targeting now to make sure women haven’t suffered adverse effects to their mental health,” she said.
Bendigo Health Board Chair Bob Cameron said the health service was expecting a record birthing year in 2021.
“Clearly Coronavirus has had some impact where people have decided that family life is a good life and we have seen more babies being delivered post Coronavirus,” he said.