The astrology of lovemaking

June is a popular month to make love. So are the months of October, November, December and January, according to birth statistics collated for The Age.


The myth that summer loving leads to more babies in spring is only partly true. We also conceive more in October and November and, as the nights get longer and the doonas get warmer, in June and July. 


Historical birth data collated by the Offices of Births, Deaths and Marriages in Victoria and NSW show around ten per cent more births in July, August, September and October and increasingly higher numbers around February and March.


The figures challenge modern preconceptions about conception and point to  a more traditional mating season that begins in spring.  Adjusted monthly birth rates also challenge astrologers who presume there are equal numbers of people born under each star sign.


“More Victorian babies are born under the star signs of Cancer, Leo, Virgo and Libra,” said the Registrar of the Victorian Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages,  Ms Helen Trihas. She said the data also had implications for workplaces and medical services.


Maternity wards are often busier in Spring. Pam Tytler, associate charge nurse at the Birthing Suite of the Northern Hospital said they often had to hire more staff in September and October.  Last year the unit delivered 183 babies in October compared to 141 in December.


Overall data was collated for the Age from total births in 1958, 1983 and 2008 in Victoria and NSW. Dr Christine Read, medical director of Family Planning NSW said the figures were intriguing and raised questions about whether birth times were planned or  followed more instinctive or seasonal patterns.


Could nature be telling us when to nurture?


Recent studies in Victoria and NSW concluded that more than 50% of pregnancies, especially first pregnancies, were unplanned. Director of the Centre for Women's Studies & Gender Research at Monash University,Dr Jane-Maree Maher, said, “We have a fantasy that we are very careful or organized but our research showed that a lot of conceptions are still not planned.”


Couples that do plan often try to avoid giving birth during busy work seasons. Dr Read said there were other reasons for people to give birth before December. “Hospital and medical services are less accessible in December and January and people might not want to give their children birthdays around Christmas,” she said.


There were around 70,000 births in Victoria last year and up to 600 more births in busier months. The differences and the pattern of births in both states were more pronounced fifty years ago.


Professor Bob Birrell, coordinator of Population and Urban Research at Monash University, said access to  heating and air conditioning means “there is no longer any reason to give birth at certain times of the year.”  


We don’t need to act like animals and give birth in late winter or spring to maximise sunshine, warmth and food for our offspring but according to these statistics, that may be what we still do. 


If births are not planned then sexual chemistry plays a bigger part. Dr Maher said holiday conceptions were not just about alcohol and warm nights (or lapses in contraception) but about having more time and more relaxed time together.


If holidays lead to increased fertility the federal government may not need to extend the $5000 baby bonus but just gazette more public holidays. 


The increase in conceptions in October and November, before summer,  coincides with traditional fertility seasons and fertility festivals like Beltane and the Maypole dance, that were held around the middle of Spring.  Jane Hardwick-Collings, midwife and birth workshop coordinator, said “mid spring is the most fertile time of the year so humans are re-enacting what is happening in nature. We go on heat in the spring time."


© Copyright Andrew Bock 2010. All rights protected.