Birth rates increased in Ireland last year, for the first time since the financial crash.
HSE figures show there were 59,874 babies born in hospitals and maternity units last year, an increase of 3,000 from 2020.
There are early signals we’re entering a post lockdown baby boom.
For the first time since 2009, there were more babies born in Irish hospitals than in the previous year.
Sociologist and Research fellow at NUIG Dr Jo Murphy Lawless says the increase may be a result of the pandemic:
"All these considerations of 'I've got this job now, and we're just about to get a mortgage'.
"That programmed way of life was taken apart by Covid and we got to think about things in a different way."
For new dad Robert Vard, lockdown accelerated he and his wife’s plans to start a family:
"We were thinking, you know - kids down the line.
"Then when lockdown happened, we were both working from home - it made us have those kind of conversations."
But for Mary O'Rourke who had her child in April last year, the difficulties of facing maternity appointments alone remain a stark memory:
"Your partner's at home waiting on a phone call or in a car park outside. You still have to go in and face the music yourself."
The figure is still down from the last peak in 2009 when there were 75,554 births registered.