Ballarat births set new record in 2013

BALLARAT has set a new birthing benchmark.

A record 1921 bouncing babies were born in 2013, with 1376 born at Ballarat Health Services’ Base Hospital and 545 at St John of God Hospital.

It breaks the previous record of 1791 born at the two hospitals in 2012.

The busiest months at the Base Hospital were March, with 138 births, August with 136 and September with 124.

The quietest month was June, with just 95 new arrivals.

Eighteen sets of twins also made their way into the world at the Base Hospital last year.

And little Stella Margaret Costopoulos doesn’t know it yet, but her January 23 arrival might be at part of an even busier 2014.

Stella was born at the Base Hospital at 3.20am after her mother Tanya had a five-hour labour.

“All the staff here have been lovely. They are very helpful and approachable,” Tanya said.

The hospital’s maternity nurse unit manager, Carolyn Robertson, said there were a lot more regional transfers last year which increased the numbers.

“People used to be able to give birth in regional areas but the services are decreasing as the risk factors in women are increasing,” Ms Robertson said.

“Population growth is also a factor.”

Ms Robertson said the maternity unit had been kept busy all year but it had been manageable.

She said premature or ill babies were also being transferred back from Melbourne earlier and the special care nursery had increased its capacity from eight to 10 beds. The hospital’s women’s and children’s services nursing director, Jo Gilbert, said the hospital had established a labour ward triage area to help cope with busy periods, implemented an on-call overnight midwife system and streamlined the booking-in process.

“When it’s busy, the team really works well together,” Ms Gilbert said. She also said “push back” from Melbourne’s western suburbs, including women from Melton, Bacchus Marsh, Sunshine and Werribee having their babies in Ballarat, had affected the numbers. Babies from Colac, Castlemaine, Hamilton and Shepparton were also transferred to the hospital’s nursery for further treatment.

fiona.henderson@fairfaxmedia.com.au

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