Why Every Pregnant Spanish Woman Wants to Give Birth on New Year’s Eve

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Penelope Cruz may be one of the only Spanish women who doesn't see the need to give birth on New Year's Eve

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The answer is nothing to do with a penchant for post-pregnancy champagne, but more the fiscal realities of the world we all inhabit.

You think that’s a rather grandiose start to a NewsFeed post? Fear not, for it can be justified. Spanish hospitals have been experiencing a slew of pregnant women hopeful on giving birth before New Year’s Day. The reason? So they can claim the government’s €2,500 ($3,300) “baby checks, ” which was an incentive offered in 2007 — set to be cut in the January 2011 spending cuts — to boost the country’s low birthrate. At 1.36 for each woman of childbearing age, the birthrate is lower than the E.U. mean of 1.4.

(See pictures of babies.)

And mean is what the medical profession is having to be. A midwife in a Seville hospital told El País newspaper that, “What we’re seeing in the public sector is that women who are due to give birth in the first fortnight of January are coming in and saying they are spotting blood or that their waters have broken. They don’t dare say so openly but we know they want to bring the due date forward. We examine them and send them home.”

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Taking a slightly kinder line, José Ángel Espinosa is the associate head of gynaecology at the Quirón hospital in Madrid, and told El País that his patients want to be induced before New Year. “If they’ve reached 38 weeks and they ask us to do it, we will,” he said, before striking one note of caution. “It’s my watch on the 31st and I’m not going to let anyone put one over on me.”