Sarah Hinton and Shane Wells, of North Lismore, with their eight-day-old baby girl Jayde and their older children Zayla Jeffrey
Sarah Hinton and Shane Wells, of North Lismore, with their eight-day-old baby girl Jayde and their older children Zayla Jeffrey

OH BABY, IT?S BOOM TIME!

By Jane Gardner IS THERE something in the water? Or were we all just feeling a little frisky last July? So far this month, 77 babies were welcomed to the world at Lismore Base Hospital ? well above the monthly average.

The boom of bubs coincides with the Federal Government's announcement on July 1 last year that the baby bonus would rise from $3000 to $4000.

North Lismore mum Sarah Hinton, 26, had baby Jayde Lee on April 11.

"The day before I had her, all of the rooms were taken in the maternity ward!" Ms Hinton said. "Every second person I talk to is having babies."

Ms Hinton and her partner Shane Wells will spend their $4000 on a new car to ferry around their five kids.

Money wasn't a motivating factor for Goonellabah mum Libby Sheach , who is 10 days overdue.

She blames the demise of quality TV programming.

"People have to find other things to do," she laughed. Lismore obstetrician Doctor Phillip Steele said 77 babies born so far in April was an unusually high rate, with the average over an entire month being 112 births. "There was also a higher birthing in January, and you do get surges like that," he said.

Since the baby bonus was introduced in 2004, there has been a nine per cent increase in births at LBH.

Each year about 1300 to 1400 babies are born in Lismore. Doctor Rick Van Der Zwan, from the department of Psychology at Southern Cross University, doesn't doubt the baby bonus was a factor in the boom.

"People on the North Coast are never going to miss an opportunity to make money," he said.

"But for the record, I don't think people are just having babies for the baby bonus, it just makes it possible for those who wanted to because they can now afford it.

"Either that or maybe TV was really boring last July, or it was very cold, or maybe not cold at all and they were wearing less clothes!"

Dr Van Der Zwan suggested the government could raise the bonus in areas where the population needed a boost.

"If the government decides they need more apple pickers in Tasmania, maybe they should up the bonus there," he said. "We could control the Sydney transport congestion by charging people to have babies there. There would certainly be fewer commuters."



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