BALLARAT’S baby-boom years of the past decade were 2009 and 2012.
Recently released Australian Bureau of Statistics figures show 1278 babies were born four years ago and 1321 last year.
It compares to a low of 1000 in 2003.
However, Ballarat’s fertility rate – the ratio of live births in an area in relation to the population – was higher in 2009, with 2.05 babies per woman compared to 1.92 last year.
In 2009, due to the steadily increasing birth rate, Ballarat Health Services Base Hospital had to expand its special care nursery, relocate maternity outpatients to extend services, appoint an extra obstetrician and create a senior registrar role.
BHS chief executive officer Andrew Rowe said at the time the rising fertility rate was great for both the health service and the community.
“With births, obviously, it’s a joyous occasion,” Mr Rowe said.
According to the ABS, Australia’s total fertility rate last year was 1.93 babies per woman, compared to the nationwide peak of 2.02 in 2008.
ABS demography director Bjorn Jarvis said the fertility rate of teenage mothers across Australia had also decreased to 16.1, down from 17.4 in 2002.
“In contrast, we have seen the number of births to mothers over 40 continues to increase,” Mr Jarvis said.
"The number of births to mothers over 40 continues to increase"
Ballarat’s fertility rate rose steadily from 2003, with 1.7, to its 2009 peak, before dropping away again in the past three years to 1.99 in 2010 and 1.94 in 2011.
Factors believed to influence fertility rates include more families delaying having children or not having children at all, and concerns over being able to financially support the child.
'I was in shock when she was born'
TO Vicky Robinson and Chris Richards, Rachel Scarlett Richards is a beautiful little miracle.
Rachel was born on October 23, 2009 after the Redan couple had suffered several miscarriages and had decided to give up on having a family.
Instead – after the final post-miscarriage scan – tiny baby Rachel was discovered.
“I was in shock when she was born. It was so hard to believe she was here,” Ms Robinson said.
“It didn’t sink in until three months later.”
Rachel turned four last week, two days after her mother celebrated her 40th birthday.
“She can be a bit shy. I would say she’s an old soul.
“I work from home and she interacts well with my clients. She’s quite in tune with people.”
Ms Robinson said she hadn’t realised 2009 was Ballarat’s boom baby year but had assumed the Ballarat Base Hospital’s maternity department was always busy when she gave birth to Rachel.
“I could hear a lot of babies crying but I just thought that was normal.”
Rachel, named after a childhood doll Ms Robinson used to have, said she liked to watch television and play with her toys, particularly the new violin her grandparents gave her for her birthday.
It was also clear from her bedroom that her favourite colour is pink.
But she was less decisive when choosing her favourite cartoon, McDonald’s food of choice or Wiggle.
“I don’t know,” she said with a giggle.