Procreating Poles - a post-communist baby boom

Poland is having something of a baby boom. Statistics show the generation born in the early 80's are starting families and they're being joined by slightly older group who've decided to do their bit for the country's demographics. So why are poles suddenly discovering parenting? Joanna Najfeld of Polish Radio has been off to the maternity ward to investigate.

Tomáš Julínek,  photo: CTK
Demographers confirm it. In 2006, for the first time in ten years, Poland had a positive natural growth. 374 thousand babies were born, which is 10 per cent more than the year before. All the statistics seem to suggest that 2007 will be even better. Gynecologist Ewa Slizien - Kuczapska works in one of the major Warsaw hospitals.

'We have never before had so many ladies pregnant. There are many young women, but also more mature ones, also with different health problems, in vitro clients and of course some of the women already have four or five children and they still want to have more."

Two main groups account for the rise in births in Poland. One is the people born during the baby boom of the early 1980s.

This young man got married a year ago when he and his fiancee were 21. Today they are awaiting a baby.

"We have each other, we have jobs to support the two of us, so we can afford a baby. This is natural and we are very happy."

The other group responsible for the baby boom in Poland are those over 30 years old. They decide on having a baby now, when they have already built their professional careers.

Magda was an active career woman. Then, at 30 years old she gave birth to Kalinka and then to Maja and Marcel. Now, at 35, she is pregnant with the fourth child.

"After my studies, I started my professional career in a big multinational firm. When I was almost 30, we decided to have a child. This completely changed my way of seeing the world around. Career, money... nothing is as important as the family - love that we can give and love that we receive. After my second child we decided that I quit this job. And it was a hard decision because I earned 2/3 of the family budget. I've never regretted this decision. Now we've got three children and we are expecting another one. Definitely we're not done, we haven't said the last word."

Although she started late, Magda is a happy mother of four, but as doctor Ewa Slizien - Kuczapska points out, from the medical point of view, postponing the first pregnancy may not always be the best idea.

Illustrative photo
"So many young people are afraid of pregnancy and they take pills. They never even know that they can have an infertility problem in the future. When they find that finally they are ready to have a family, sometimes it is late. Maximum fertility is between 20 and 25 years old. After 35 years old, the fertility is really going down. Those patients can have complications which are not so easy to solve."

Sociologists point out that among the factors contributing to the baby boom may be Poland's economic growth and falling unemployment. It is now much easier to buy an apartment thanks to the accessibility of bank loans.

A rise in planned pregnancies among university students has also been observed in large cities. A woman who can manage both - family and studies - is said to be perceived as organized, credible and responsible and therefore more attractive for employers, say experts.