A Chinese blessing goes, “I hope your son will be a dragon,” meaning he’ll be a success in life. Since ancient times, Chinese have regarded the dragon as an auspicious creature, symbolizing success and power. Many Chinese families want dragon babies, and a dragon baby boom is expected in some Asian countries this year.
Hong Kong experienced a five percent population increase during 2000, the last year of the dragon, and is anticipating a similar five to seven percent baby boom this year.
National Taiwan University Hospital, a leading teaching and research facility in Taipei, is expecting a 20 to 30 percent birth rate increase this year, according Dr. Chen Shee-Uan, director of reproductive endocrinology and infertility.
Mainland China’s state media Xinhua reported an expected five percent increase in the number of babies born this year. Some analysts, however, said this is an underestimation as beds in maternity wards of several major Beijing hospitals are fully “booked” through the end of August this year.
It seems that many young Chinese couples have plans for a dragon baby; compared with previous years, a lot more women have requested pregnancy tests at many hospitals in 2011.
Shanghai resident Zhang Lilian is due to give birth on Feb. 9. She told New Tang Dynasty TV that she hopes very much that her baby will be on time, because being born at the top of the dragon year means a good future.
“I hope it will bring success and prosperity to my baby,” she said.
The dragon year baby boom will also be boosting business. Bloomberg quoted predictions by Euromonitor International of a 17 percent increase in China’s diaper sales this year.
Every Blessing has its Price
Licensed maternity nannies are in high demand in both China and Taiwan. Many expecting parents have to book a maternity nanny well in advance, leading to a wage hike for nannies.
Taiwan is experiencing a big shortage of these licensed health care workers. Only a little over 10,000 maternity nannies are licensed, but there’s a demand for about 50,000 in the year of the dragon, according to a news report by Taiwan’s Public Broadcasting Service TV.
Sales of maternity clothing in a department store in Taiwan also rose by 30 percent in the second half of 2011 compared to the previous year, according to Taiwan based Formosa TV.
In Hong Kong many parents out shopping for baby formula had problems finding any even after visiting many stores. The lucky ones who found some had to pay a premium.
And there will also be more competition for school enrollment and the labor market with so many new dragon babies, says Dr. Tong Yuying, an assistant professor at the department of sociology at Chinese University of Hong Kong.
But those are future worries. Right now, it’s not too late to plan for a winning dragon year baby, according to Dr. Showing Wu of Taipei City Hospital. As long as a woman becomes pregnant before May 15, 2012, she can still have a dragon baby.