Birth rate a March record
By BELINDA SCOTT
NATASHA Atkin's newborn daughter and Lorraine Goodrick's girl and boy twins were all born within an hour of each other on Wednesday evening, making the dinner hour a busy one for midwives at Coffs Harbour's Health Campus.
The Goodricks' twins arrived at 5.04pm and 5.10pm and the Atkins' daughter at 6.07pm on Wednesday.
Coffs Harbour is experiencing a baby boom, with a record number of 99 babies born at the Coffs Harbour Health Campus in March, breaking all records for the number of births at the hospital in one month.
The previous record was 88 babies in April, 2005.
And the pace is not expect
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ed to slacken any time soon.
The nurse unit manager for maternity services at Coffs Harbour Health Campus, Jeanette Walsh, said there were 103 mothers already booked to give birth at the hospital in the next couple of months.
She said there appeared to be no special reason for the rush of autumn babies, which has easily outdistanced the traditionally busy spring months in the maternity ward.
Midwives at the hospital said the baby rush had started early in March and kept up throughout the month.
The number of births at Coffs Harbour has been climbing steadily for the past two years, confounding predictions made several years ago that the birthrate on the Coffs Coast was dropping and would continue to fall.
There were 775 babies born at Coffs Harbour's public hospital in 2004 and 864 in 2005.
For Lorraine and Tony Goodrick of Dairyville, welcoming Gabe (6lb 11oz) and Danielle (6lb 4oz), a new brother and sister for their very excited four-year-old daughter Georgia, and for Natasha and Phil Atkin of Coffs Harbour, celebrating the birth of their first child, a 3700g (8lb 20z) baby girl, statistics are not nearly as interesting as their healthy babies.
But while the babies are arriving, there is no sign of the public antenatal clinic pro-mised for Coffs Harbour. Jeanette Walsh said midwives had done the extra training required and were ready and anxious to use their skills, health campus executives had been supportive 'but all of a sudden there's no funding'.
She said midwives were disappointed there was no starting date for the antenatal service, while women who had moved to the area and phoned wanting to come to the clinic were amazed to find it did not exist.
"We would be one of the last base hospitals with a population of this size to have no antenatal service," Jeanette Walsh said.
A spokesman for the Minister for Health, John Hatzistergos, said yesterday the matter was still under consid- eration by the North Coast Area Health Service and the Department of Health,
"The establishment of the antental clinic at the Coffs Harbour Health Campus will be considered together with other clinical priorities set out in the area's health care services plan when it builds up to the 2006-07 budget," the minister's spokesman said.