Jolly good time to procreate

Jolly good time to procreate

It is that time of the year again... to make babies, it seems.

Figures released by the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority show that about 9 per cent more babies were conceived monthly from December to February, compared with the monthly average for the rest of the year.

From 2004 to last year, the highest number of live births recorded here were for the months of September, October and November.

Given that most pregnancies last nine months, the women likely fell pregnant from December to February - regarded as a festive period which spans major holidays such as Christmas, New Year, Chinese New Year and Valentine's Day.

An average of 35,020 babies were born in each of these three months during the 10-year period.

This is in contrast to the average figure for each of the rest of the months, which was markedly lower at 31,868 babies.

Dr Jazlan Joosoph, a member of the advisory panel of the SG50 Baby Jubilee Gift initiative, said the trend suggested by the data did not surprise him.

"During this period, couples or families usually go on vacations, which are good times for procreation," said the obstetrician and gynaecologist at Raffles Women's Centre.

"A good year-end bonus and a healthy income may also enhance the decision to build a family."

More importantly, couples may feel less stressed, making it more conducive to have babies, he added.

Despite that, Singapore's total fertility rate fell from 1.29 in 2012 to 1.19 last year. Both figures are below the replacement rate of 2.1 births per woman.

If you are thinking of having a little one, here are some handy tips from the experts.

1. Calculating when ovulation occurs

For women with regular periods, the old-school method of using the calendar to track one's fertile period is fairly reliable, said Dr Joosoph.

There are now mobile apps and online calculators to help with this.

Typically, ovulation occurs around the 14th day for women with a regular 28-day cycle, said Dr Irene Chua, a senior consultant obstetrician and gynaecologist at Gleneagles Hospital.

One can also try using a home ovulation test kit, which can be bought at pharmacies. This measures the surge of luteinising hormone in the urine that indicates ovulation, said Dr Chua.

Or, go for hormonal blood tests and ultrasound imaging to monitor the development and maturation of dominant follicles in the ovaries, and to measure the thickness of the uterine lining, said Dr Joosoph.

2. Diet and lifestyle habits

Smoking and drinking too much alcohol can affect fertility in both men and women, said Dr Chua.

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