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Celtic Tiger era is still pushing our baby boom

WITH MORE than 9,000 babies born in Holles Street's wards every year, Ireland's National Maternity Hospital is the busiest maternity unit in Europe.

But Master of Holles Street Dr Rhona Mahony says it was the Celtic Tiger years – not the subsequent bust – which resulted in Ireland's baby boom.

"It was a combination of things that caused the baby boom," she told the Herald. "One of the main reasons has to do with the boom, rather than the bust. A lot of people talk about 'recession babies', but I think the opposite is true."

"When I left college in the late 80s/early 90s, a lot of people were emigrating because there were no jobs," she said. "So the reproductive cohort were emigrating.


"When the economy started to get better, Irish students had the choice to stay and they did. So that increases the birth rate."

She continued: "During the boom, our economy and country were also very attractive, so we had a lot immigrants moving here. Today, 27pc of babies born in Holles Street are non-national.

"The baby boom has been a feature of a good economy, not a bad one."

And according to the mum-of-four, the surge of births shows no sign of slowing down. "Projections suggest that the numbers will stay the same. Even if it does dip, that won't be a uniform dip in Ireland," she said.

"Holles Street will have high numbers because, as the recession worsens, young couples will migrate up to the city. I think the baby boom will continue to rise for the next few years."

And according to the dynamic new Master of Holles Street, the increased number of babies and diminishing funds has put more pressure on the midwives and obstetricians.

"The baby boom has been really, really difficult for us," she says.

"We've seen unprecedented numbers of babies coming through the ward and we have a moratorium on numbers of staff. We have roughly eight-and-a-half full-time obstetricians delivering over 9,000 babies.

"That's one to 1,000, so we are very pinned to the collar. I think traditionally in Ireland we have invested efficiently in the maternity services, and it is so important that we change that."

She added: "My priority is to put the maternity services right up there on the Government agenda."

Rhona was speaking at the inaugural Irish Tatler Business Academy, a day-long event to inspire and encourage young entrepreneurs and business women.

Dr Mahony has big dreams for the maternity hospital, including a new unit specifically accommodating for women who have suffered a miscarriage.