A national lockdown baby boom has bypassed Whanganui, with the local birth rate decreasing slightly.
Information from Stats NZ last year showed that Aotearoa was experiencing an increased birth rate, prompting the term "lockdown baby" as many conceptions had occurred during Covid-19 level 4 restrictions.
Whanganui couple Paddy and Hera Monaghan welcomed their first child Hōhepa in January 2021 and, although he meets the criteria, Paddy said his 1-year-old son would be here regardless.
"We were ready to start a family and the timing was right for us," he said.
"When you think about the things that were going on in the world when our grandparents were having children, Covid didn't pose a problem for us."
The only downside had been uncertainty around income because Paddy was running his own photography and videography business and commissions were becoming more scarce.
"I was lucky enough to get a salaried job so we've been doing okay," he said.
"We are loving being parents and there is something about having a little person in your life that makes you focus on the things that are really important and not so much on the chaos in the world.
"My sister had a baby around the same time so Hōhepa has a little cousin to grow up with."
In reality, birth rates in Whanganui actually decreased slightly during the "lockdown baby" timeframe with 522 births recorded for the quarter ending in September 2021. There were 534 births recorded for the same period in 2020 and 573 during the 2019 timeframe.
Although Whanganui may not have experienced its own lockdown baby boom, the past two years have been stressful for those who care for pregnant women and babies.
The Monaghans were full of praise for the care received from their midwife Michelle Elston, but Whanganui College of Midwives chairwoman Jo Watson said there had been many new challenges for the profession during the past two years.
"Last year was a bit easier than 2020 when we faced challenges like PPE shortages and had to get to grips with new safety protocols that we'd never had to deal with before," Watson said.
"We were the only primary carers working in the community and, as we're technically self-employed, we had so many things to figure out for ourselves. We also had to think about our own safety and the safety of our families."
Watson said things had been a bit easier in 2021although there were now new challenges presented by the Omicron Covid-19 variant.
"The [Whanganui] DHB have helped us with PPE supplies and we really appreciate that. We've learned a lot but we can't stop and regroup - we have to keep going."
Although the birth rate in Whanganui had not increased, Watson said there had been a slight increase in home births.
"There have been some lovely experiences with those," Watson said.
"It is so nice to tuck a mother up with her baby after delivery when she has her whānau gathered around to support her."
Watson said it was hard to witness the struggles some families were experiencing in Whanganui.
"I have seen some situations where you know the whānau is not eating well and there is serious overcrowding in some households. The housing shortage is real."
Stats NZ data reveals there were 59,382 live births registered in Aotearoa in 2021, an increase from 57,753 in 2020. It is the highest birth rate in New Zealand since 2015.