The number of babies born in Central Alberta is growing steadily — especially in Blackfalds.
Together, hospitals in Red Deer, Lacombe, Rocky Mountain House, Olds and Stettler saw 3,225 births in 2011, up from 3,141 in 2010, an increase of 2.6 per cent.
Births at Red Deer Regional Hospital Centre climbed to 2,577, up from 2,520, a 2.2 per cent increase, according to Service Alberta.
“It’s a stable birth rate. There hasn’t been any vast fluctuations,” said Debbie Leitch, director of maternal child services at Red Deer hospital.
“It’s business as usual.”
The hospital has 23 postpartum beds for moms, eight labour and delivery rooms, and four outpatient assessment labour triage beds. The neonatal intensive care unit has 17 beds for premature babies born eight months and older.
In 2011, there were 50,592 babies born in Alberta, down from 2009’s record-breaking 51,498.
But Blackfalds, previously dubbed the birth capital of Alberta, is maintaining its reputation.
The town saw a 21-per-cent increase in its baby population between 2009 and 2011, with 175 babies, newborn to one-year-old.
According to Canada’s 2011 census, Blackfalds was the 14th fastest growing community in Canada, and the sixth fastest growing community in Alberta.
Blackfalds grew 36.4 per cent, to 6,300 people, in 2011 from 4,618 in 2006.
Yvonne Ketcheson, staff member at Blackfalds Public Library, said babies are everywhere.
“It’s quite incredible. You can’t walk around Blackfalds without seeing them,” Ketcheson said.
Twins are common, as well as pregnant moms with one or two children in tow, she said.
And the library is a magnet for young families. About 40 parents, with their babies and children, attend the Mother Goose activity program.
The half-hour program runs three times a week for newborns to three-years old.
“There’s lots of rhyming and singing and clapping,” Ketcheson said.
“They’re a hoot. What people really love about bringing their kids to our library is it’s not a quiet library. We’re not a shush library.”
New families are coming to Blackfalds all the time and one of the first places they stop is the library, she said.
The province recently announced the most popular names in 2011 for its newborn citizens.
Last year, Olivia was the most popular name in the province for baby girls and Liam topped the list for boys.
Jill Tjepkema, of Red Deer, said she prefers unique names and tries to avoid trends.
After having two boys, she and her husband Andrew Tjepkema, finally got to name a daughter Jorja in 2011.
Jorja Jean Tjepkema was born on Nov. 21.
“I thought the Js were feminine and me being a Jill, I liked having the Js carry on,” said Tjepkema about the distinct spelling of Georgia for her daughter.
Jean is also her mother’s middle name.
The couple uses names that relate to their family. Cameron, two, was named using his mom’s maiden name, and Ian, four, was named using his grandfather’s and uncle’s middle name.
She said a lot of people are giving their babies different names and parents should go with their gut instincts.
“If you don’t know, wait until you meet the baby and the little personalities come through.”