A baby boom has hit south-west Victoria with births in Hamilton increasing by 51 per cent over the past year, the highest in the state.
Western District Health Service chief executive Rohan Fitzgerald said the boost was likely due to the COVID-19 lockdowns and a demographic shift in the region.
"It's been a busy time for midwives at Hamilton Base Hospital," he said.
"The figures may well constitute a 'lockdown baby boom' with the increase peaking nine months after Victoria's second-wave lockdowns in June and August last year, but could also reflect a demographic shift out of the cities and greater confidence in the quality and safety of regional services.
"Real estate in Hamilton is booming and we've seen increasing numbers of people seeking a 'tree change' and moving out of the cities to our region."
Mr Fitzgerald said the increase may also be due to travel restrictions.
"Reduced mobility and greater confidence in the safety of our region and hospital services during the pandemic could also explain the increase, with more mums choosing to stay local to have their babies."
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Warrnambool also saw a 10 per cent increase in births over the past year. South West Healthcare executive assistant Gemma Cousins said there were 778 total births and of those, 21 were twins meaning 757 women gave birth.
Mr Fitzgerald welcomed the funding.
"We welcome Martin Foley's recent announcement offering a support package for midwifery services across Victoria," he said. "We look forward to working with the state government to understand how this package will support our midwifery team and local families."
The boom comes at a time when day-care centres in south-west Victoria are in high demand, with some Warrnambool parents being put on a waiting list 40 people long.
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