Sunshine Hospital had the third busiest maternity ward in the state in 2014, a new report shows.

The Victorian perinatal services performance indictors 2014-15 report, released last week, reveals 5170 women gave birth to 5230 babies at Sunshine Hospital in 2014.

The Western Health-managed hospital followed The Royal Women’s Hospital (7332) and Mercy Hospital for Women (6019), Victoria’s only two public specialist women’s hospitals, for numbers of births it recorded.

A Western Health spokeswoman told Star Weekly that 5110 babies had been born at the hospital in 2014-15, and 5475 in 2015-16 – “the highest number of births ever recorded in a single year at Sunshine Hospital.”

The figures represent annual growth in maternity ward attendances of about seven per cent. Figures suggest the number of births at the Furlong Road hospital is likely to exceed 7000 a year by 2026.

In August last year, the state government pledged to build the Joan Kirner Women’s and Children’s Hospital, next to Sunshine Hospital, to cater for the area’s booming population.

The annual perinatal report monitors and reports on the experiences of women and their babies during pregnancy and childbirth in Victorian public hospitals.

The report tracks smoking rates during pregnancies, breastfeeding and the degree of perineal tears happening during childbirth.

The rate of perineal tears in women giving birth at Sunshine Hospital was about 12 per cent, equal second highest alongside West Gippsland Healthcare Group and behind only Colac Area Health (about 18 per cent). The statewide rate at public hospitals is 6.2 per cent.

Western Health’s women’s and children’s clinical services director, Associate Professor Glyn Teale, said the rate of perineal tears is recognised as being above the state average.

“A dedicated improvement project to clarify the underlying causes has already commenced,” she said.

“It is expected that this will allow identification of areas for improvement.”