Being part of the baby boom


The Czech Republic is currently going through a baby boom, a fact you can hardly fail to notice when you walk the streets of Prague these days. While in the past, you would rarely bump into a mother with a pram, now they are simply everywhere. Maternity hospitals are bursting at the seams and mothers have to register six months in advance to secure a place. The last baby boom was in the 1970s and the 70s kids are now in their 30s. As a result, 2008 saw the biggest number of newborns in 15 years.

Illustrative photo: archive of Radio Prague
For a long time I tried to pretend that the baby boom had nothing to do with me. Every time a friend called to announce the happy news I quickly counted those who could still go to the pub with me for a glass of beer or two. But, as our circle gradually grew smaller and smaller, I myself succumbed to the trend. Since becoming aware of my condition, I have noticed that newspapers and magazines are bombarding their readers with articles on pregnancy, maternity and children’s upbringing. Clearly, babies have become a good business. There cute little faces stare at me from newspaper and magazine covers, with a question in their eyes: Are you doing everything you should for my well-being?

How much folic acid, for instance, do you consume on a daily basis, a newspaper article asks me. As if I kept a record. It’s not good to eat cream during the first three months of pregnancy, I read elsewhere. Does it mean that I hurt my unborn child the other day when I ate a bucket full of ice cream? What about vitamins? Ads for special vitamins for pregnant women loom at me from every second page. But didn’t I read somewhere else that eating vitamins make children oversized? I don’t want to have a giant baby; it would be too heavy to carry!

The stream of information is endless and I suspect it won’t stop when the child is born. New questions will emerge, such as: Should I attend swimming classes for babies, as most of my friends do? Should I play Mozart to the child so that it develops a musical ear? Perhaps I should start learning that special sign language that babies supposedly use, as some scientists have recently discovered, otherwise I might not be able to communicate with my own child!

At times like these, when I am seized by a sudden panic and wonder if I will even make a good mum, I think of my grandmother. Did she eat vitamins when she was pregnant soon after the war? Did she know how much folic acid she was supposed to take? Yet, my mother seems to have developed just fine and so did I.

In the end, I think, it’s better to use my common sense, which tells me that there is nothing wrong with eating a bag full of jellies while writing this Letter from Prague. I guess that’s exactly what the baby was asking for.

By the way, I just read an article today, claiming that women’s IQ increases after they give birth. It seems there is a bright future awaiting me.