Mothers book Caesarean sections for triple slice of luck

PUBLISHED : Friday, 08 August, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 08 August, 2008, 12:00am

Many private hospitals are jammed with mothers wanting to give birth today, an auspicious date considered lucky for a newborn because of eight, indicating success, occurring three times - 08/08/2008.

But there is no similar rush to get married - wedding planners and restaurants said the month was usually considered unlucky for weddings because it coincided with the Hungry Ghost Festival in the Chinese calendar.

Telephone inquiries to nine private hospitals providing 3,000 maternity beds altogether found that six of them were full with at least 52 Caesarean sections set for today.

Kwong Kwok-hay, deputy medical superintendent of the Hong Kong Sanatorium and Hospital, said the daily quota for elective Caesarean sections was full, but said he could not reveal what the quota was.

'There are many mothers who want their babies born tomorrow,' he said. 'So they booked for that day even if they had to pay a little bit more for an elective Caesarean.'

Union Hospital maternity ward nursing officer Irene Cheung Oi-wan said 15 women were scheduled to give birth by Caesarean section today, filling the quota.

She said it was likely that the date was chosen because of the opening day of the Olympics. 'Of course they do not tell us but August 8 is a good day,' she said, adding that the number of deliveries last year on the same day was not as high. Canossa Hospital had nine Caesarean deliveries scheduled, compared with its usual four to six a day, a staff member said.

St Paul's Hospital said it had 280 bookings this month or about 20 a day - more than other months. She declined to say how many births were scheduled today.

Adventist Hospital has three scheduled deliveries. Matilda International Hospital said it had not seen any 'significant increase in scheduled Caesareans' for today. That might be because the hospital did not have many Chinese patients, a spokeswoman said.

The Immigration Department said 2,002 couples would wed at five marriage registries today.

Fung shui master Mak Ling-ling said it was better for a baby girl to be born on August 8 than a boy and added: 'The baby will be good at sports but he or she will have a weak performance in academic [subjects] like maths.'

Another practitioner, James Lee Shing-chak, said August 8 was not a good day to get married. 'August is considered the Hungry Ghost Festival,' he said. 'September is better than August.'

A Federal Restaurant Group spokeswoman said none one of its 10 restaurants had wedding dinners set for today.