Westmead Hospital set to crack 6000 babies born in 2017

Triple treat: Westmead Hospital midwife Kate Gillis had her hands full with these newborn girls last week. Picture: Isabella Lettini

Triple treat: Westmead Hospital midwife Kate Gillis had her hands full with these newborn girls last week. Picture: Isabella Lettini

Westmead Hospital is on the brink of delivering its biggest baby boom ever.

Its maternity unit is on track to crack the 6000 mark for babies born in a year for the first time.

It’s despite recent NSW Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages data that birth rates in NSW have fallen five per cent in the last 10 years.

Around 492 new arrivals added to the growing tally in September.

“This year, we’ve seen a big jump in our numbers,” midwifery nurse operations manager Julie Swain said.

“It’s at least five per cent more on previous years. We’re averaging around 500 babies per month, which is the highest it’s ever been. We have 18-20 births per day.”

Around 200-300 babies born at Westmead each year are from rural areas who need additional care.

Five years ago, Westmead overtook Royal Prince Alfred Hospital as having the largest number of births annually in NSW.  Western Sydney Local Health District (which Westmead is part of) has recorded the largest number of babies for five consecutive years and could continue the streak when the latest NSW Mothers and Babies report is launched early next year.

“I love the people and the community’s diversity,” Ms Swain said.

“We learn something new every day.”

She believes the numbers will get even higher as the population grows.

“In five years time, we could be closing on 8500 births a year if the current surge continues,” Ms Swain said.

Set to celebrate its 40th anniversary in 2018, Westmead is currently undergoing a $1 billion redevelopment, the biggest health project in the state’s history.

“I’d love to see a stand alone womens and newborn health unit,” Ms Swain said.

“There are plans for a bigger maternity unit, which should be part of stage three. I’d like to explore the options of building and adding more outreach services, where women can have their own midwife throughout pregnancy, labour and postnatal.”