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Parental Love Triggers Baby Boom in "Golden Pig Year"
    2007-03-16 18:04:56     CRIENGLISH.com

Lucky or Not

In today's China, many old traditions are regarded as superstitions. However, when it comes to the next generation, a large majority of Chinese still choose to believe in "better safe than sorry," unwilling to take the risk of their children missing out on any potential luck. Facing this once-in-sixty-years opportunity, why not give it a shot?

According to another old rule, 2006 was deemed a very good year for marriage to begin with. Whether out of their own will or urged by their more superstitious parents, many young couples married last year and are now expecting babies. The number of marriage registrations in 2006 was the largest ever in 20 years.


Despite the already troublesome situation, many young couples are plunging into this "golden pig" baby boom. [File photo: ycwb.com]
It's too early to tell whether babies born this year are particularly lucky or not, but their parents have so far proven not lucky enough.

To begin with, the abnormal increase in the number of pregnant women is crowding maternity clinics. Routine pregnancy checks have now become time-consuming and exhausting tasks. The Beijing Times reported on Monday that Beijing Haidian Maternal and Child Health Care Hospital, a popular maternity hospital, received nearly 700 pregnant women. Many arrived at the hospital at six in the morning to register for an appointment that day. It's not surprising at all for a mother-to-be to wait a whole day for a 10-minute talk with the doctor or two weeks for an ultrasound.

The worst is when an expectant mother goes into labor, which cannot wait or be rescheduled. Statistics released by the Beijing Municipal Health Bureau showed that on Monday evening, there were only 381 vacant beds at maternity departments in major hospitals across the city. At most big hospitals, the numbers of mothers-to-be waiting to give birth had reached or even surpassed their full capacity.

Apart from the rising number of pregnant women, there was another reason for the congestion at big hospitals. Again, ready to pay any price to give their children the best, devoted parents-to-be throng supposedly reputable maternity hospitals in town, believing they are the only places where they can receive top-notch services for their baby, even though all they get there is just a temporary bed in the corridor.

Meanwhile, trying to ease tensions, many overcrowded hospitals must limit their daily reception quotas. The government is calling on mothers-to-be to register at nearby smaller hospitals where they can receive the same qualified, if not better, maternity service. However, many are too stubborn to listen.

According to local media, in January, a whopping number of 890 babies were born at Shanghai International Peace Maternity and Child Health Care Hospital. By then, the "golden pig year" hadn't even started yet, since the 2007 Chinese Lunar New Year fell on February 18. It is estimated that Beijing Maternity Hospital will deliver a record-high 14,000 newborns this year, 20% more than 2006.

The new parents' fights over limited resources don't end after the baby is born. Finding a nanny is hard too. Although many domestic housekeeping companies are preparing in advance by hiring more trained nannies for the market, the demands are still overwhelming, especially for skilled babysitting services. Naturally, nannies' salaries have gone up, too. At present in Beijing, the monthly pay for a nanny ranges from 1000 yuan (about US$127) to 5,000 yuan (about US$637), even more than the salary of many new parents.


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