Warrnambool is due to record the most monthly births in its history next month in a possible sign of the much-discussed COVID-19 baby boom.
Ninety women are booked in for delivery at Warrnambool Base Hospital in August, well above the average of 65 births per month over the past year, and the 67 births recorded in August last year.
Jacinta Lenehan is one of the bumper crop of expectant mothers, but she said her August due date was a fluke.
Ms Lenehan has a two-year-old daughter, Willow, who was born through IVF after more than four years of trying. In April 2020 she was about to start the IVF process again when she fell pregnant naturally.
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Then, 16 weeks into the pregnancy, in the depths of Victoria's months-long lockdown, she suffered a miscarriage.
"We had to go through it on our own, which was really hard, not being able to see people," Ms Lenehan said. "We had only announced it a few weeks before... then we had to unannounce it."
It was a difficult thing to talk about at the time, but Ms Lenehan said sharing the news with family and friends made a huge difference to the way she processed the loss.
In November, she again fell pregnant naturally. And while her due date may be unintentional, Ms Lenehan said she was certain Warrnambool was experiencing an uptick in births.
"Just in the last eight weeks three close girlfriends have had babies and I know another handful who are due to give birth in the next couple of months," she said.
Her sister is also due in September, traditionally the biggest month for births each year.
Ms Lenehan said she thought COVID-19 may have changed people's priorities, persuading them to settle down as Australia attempted to ride out the global pandemic. Many people who have had to shelve marriage plans may be having babies instead, she said.
"It's turning that normal order on its head."
ANU demographer Dr Liz Allen said it was too early to declare a "baby boom", which would require a sustained increase in the average number of children women were having.
Dr Allen said the record figure could be a sign more women were deciding to have babies, but it was more likely to be a reflection of Warrnambool's changing demographics.
"I would hazard a guess that it's a result of internal migration," she said, noting the large number of people who had settled in the regions since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. But she said it would be important to keep close tabs on birth figures over the coming months.
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