C-sections are most popular op
It's the boom which blossomed in our years of prosperity and continues despite leaner times.
The end of year figures for births in 2010 are expected to show 74,418 were born last year.
This is a decrease of just 0.3pc on births for 2009.
It comes against a background of financial hardship faced by many families and a rise in emigration by young people, along with the return home of many immigrants.
According to the Department of Health, the number of births to the end of November 2010 was 68,072, down 0.24pc on the 68,235 babies born in the same same period in 2009.
However, some hospitals actually saw an increase in births, including the Coombe, Mullingar, Holles Street, Portlaoise and Cavan.
And it predicts that the number of births may climb to 74,500 this year although much depends on the economy and emigration.
The number of babies born by caesarean section last year was 26pc, up from 25.8pc.
It means around 19,372 babies were born through surgical means.
This trend is regarded as worrying in light of the target to reduce caesarean births to 20pc.
The department admitted that it remains substantially higher than the 20pc target. This in turn is substantially above the international target set by the World Health Organisation of between 10pc and 15pc.
Like any major operation, it carries the risk of bleeding and infection, and the wound can also make it harder for a new mother to cope in the first few weeks following birth.
So why are so many mothers delivering by caesarean section? An analysis carried out by doctors here pointed out that caesarean section is now the most commonly performed major surgical procedure in this country.
The rates in Ireland were relatively very low by international standards until the 1980s but this has changed.
One of the influences is that women are having children later in life because they are concentrating more on careers.
Older women tend to experience more difficult first labours, some of whom inevitably require caesarean delivery.
Doctors have also pointed to a rise in obesity in many pregnant women which increases the chance of a caesarean delivery.
There is also the question of women's preference for caesarean section instead of natural birth and the rise in fertility treatment which increases the chances of having twins or triplets.
The caesarean section rate in Holles Street for 2009 was 19.8pc which was an increase on 2008 "but remains low by national and international standards", according to its annual report.
"Of particular importance is that our caesarean section rate in low-risk women remains the lowest anywhere both nationally and internationally," it said.
The Rotunda Hospital's caesarean section rate in 2009 went up to 28.5pc, compared to 25.5pc a decade ago.
This is partly explained by a rise in women who had difficult births previously or babies in difficulty in the womb.
One in four mothers in the Coombe Hospital had a caesarean section in 2009, according to its statistics.
The main risks from a caesarean section include:
- Wound infection.
- A blood clot in the legs, which can be a risk if it lodges in the lungs.
- Damage to the bladder or the tube that connects the kidney and bladder, risking more surgery.
The most common problem for babies born by caesarean is breathing difficulties.
About 35 out of every 1,000 babies born this way have breathing problems after birth. This contrasts with five out of every 1,000 born naturally.
Health & Living