Two nurses take care of newborn infants in No 1 People's Hospital in Xiangfan city, Hubei province, on Aug 27. Gong Bo / for China Daily
BEIJING - Outside the consulting room of a maternity hospital in Nanjing, an expectant mother, surnamed Lin, was trying to persuade a doctor to perform a cesarean section on her.
"My stomach hurts a lot," Lin said, looking hopefully into the eyes of the doctor. "Please expedite the delivery."
After a physical examination, the doctor found Lin did not have any physical parturient symptoms, and she only wanted a C-section so that her child, who was due on Sept 5, could be born before Sept 1, the cut-off date for primary school admissions.
Lin is not the only pregnant woman who wants her child to be born before Sept 1.
"It's the same case every year at the end of August," said Wang Xin, head of the maternity department of the Nanjing Maternity and Child Health Hospital.
Primary schools in China only give admission to children who turn 6-years-old on or before Aug 31. Those born later - even on Sept 2 - have to wait a full year before entering school.
August saw a 17-percent jump in the number of C-sections compared with July in the Weihai maternity hospital in Shandong province, according to hospital records.
Shan Ruiqin, director of the maternity department at the Jinan Maternity and Child Health Hospital, said nearly 900 babies were born in the hospital in August, compared with a monthly average of 700 births in the first seven months of this year.
Many hospitals in Beijing had witnessed a "clear surge" in the number of births over the past two weeks, with nearly "80 percent" of expectant mothers requesting the operation.
"We were trying to control the number," said Wang Jie, an official from the press department of the Beijing Obstetrics and Gynecology Hospital. "We refused to perform C-sections on those who did not show any physical parturient symptoms".
Zhao Kai, 39, whose daughter was born through a C-section last week, said: "It would be unfair if my daughter had to wait a full year to enter school just because she was born a few days after the ridiculous admission deadline. All her classmates would be so much younger, and would probably treat her differently."
However, a primary school teacher was of a different opinion.
"I believe an older student would perform better than her younger classmates," said Zhao Yurong, a Chinese language teacher at Beijing Zhenzhilu Primary School. "The mental development of junior grade students depends on their age. So younger students, in general, do not have an advantage over those who are half a year older," Zhao said.
She added that poor performances can hurt children deeply at an age when they are building their self-confidence. "I really don't think parents should be so bothered about meeting the Sept 1 deadline when it comes to the birth of their child."