Tauranga's birth rate is likely to increase this year, and if that growth spurt continues it will be great news for the region as baby boomers move into retirement, business leaders say.
Figures released to the Bay of Plenty Times Weekend from the Bay of Plenty District Health Board under the Official Information Act show that so far in 2015 the number of women who have given birth at Tauranga Hospital is 1270, compared with 1735 for 2014.
To date, 1690 babies, which includes 896 males and 794 females, have been born as opposed to 1927 for 2014, when 1013 males and 914 females entered the world.
In 2014, according to Statistics New Zealand, there were 3504 babies born in the Bay of Plenty region - the lowest rate since records began in 1991 when 3887 babies were born.
Tauranga Hospital midwifery manager Esther Mackay said dropping birth rates were a national trend.
"This is a national trend influenced by many factors, including financial restraint on behalf of prospective parents and wider availability of contraception."
However, Priority One projects manager Annie Hill said if the growth was sustained, it would be good for the sub-region.
"As the baby boomer generation moves into retirement, the impact on the workforce will be significant, with fewer people available for work and more people needing to be supported on superannuation.
"One of the most important things for the economic future of Tauranga and the Western Bay of Plenty is the attraction and retention of young people."
Population Ageing Technical Advisory Group chairwoman Anne Pankhurst said all population additions were great for a region.
"Tauranga has a very strong growth rate, but building a stronger base of people born and bred here builds in that sense of 'this is my place'.
"This will only improve with the availability of tertiary education, which allows people to remain in the region.
"Previously, children born here left to gain a tertiary education - this will change over the next five to 10 years."
Every city needed to grow and having children born here was part of that equation, she said.
Multiple births have also jumped at Tauranga Hospital, with 62 babies born in 2015, well ahead of 43 in 2014.
Tauranga Multiple Birth Group president Lauren King said its membership was tracking ahead of last year, which "is really fantastic for us".
In 2014, the charity had 77 paid-up families but this year it already had 46.
The support organisation helped through pre-birth meeting, established magazines and online assistance.
Mrs King had identical twins - Scott and Rhys aged 22 months - as well as her daughter, 4-year-old Paige.
She said at times it could be challenging but "I have really enjoyed it and it has been wonderful".
But the hard times were probably ahead, she joked, because "they are more active so I have to keep the three of them entertained and safe".
Natalie Murdoch, Tauranga mother of Troy, 3, and twins Esme and Nina, 5 months, said: "I am busy but it's fun ... although it can be a juggling act. I love the children are so close in age."
She was also a member of the Tauranga Multiple Birth Group and said their Facebook page was really helpful - she found the advice from fellow parents invaluable.
Year on year since 2012 there have been more boys born at Tauranga Hospital but a survey of four daycare centres in the city found they had more girls on average enrolled.
The Village Childcare Centre manager Claire Topping said it had 54 boys versus 64 girls, although a Supporting Parents Alongside Children Education Group included four girls and five boys.
Active Kids Early Childcare Centre said it had more girls than boys and so did ABC Tauranga Childcare.
UrbanKids Early Learning Centre manager Krystal Clarke said its overall split was about half and half.
Meanwhile, Caesarean numbers have remained steady at Tauranga Hospital, with 529 in 2013, 522 in 2014 and 246 in 2015 to date, with elective Caesareans slightly higher than emergency.
Midwifery manager Esther Mackay said Caesarean section was considered when this mode of delivery was thought to be better/safer for the mother and/or baby than an alternative vaginal delivery or instrumental delivery.
"Woman do not decide to have a Caesarean section on a whim, they usually have good medical reasons. It is not our policy to undertake Caesarean sections on request without a medical issue indicated."
Tauranga mother-of-two Sarah Preston has had two Caesareans - one an emergency and one elective - despite trying to deliver naturally, and said she had a good recovery and no issues.
Meanwhile, the average age of women giving birth at Tauranga Hospital has remained steady at 28 for 2015. Pregnancy Choice Centre director Janice Tetley-Jones said that was reflected in their data showing a significant lift in the 25 plus age group.