- Health workers delivered hundreds of newborn babies on New Year's Day.
- Most were born in Gauteng. KwaZulu-Natal had the second-highest number of deliveries.
- The usual celebrations for mothers and their newborns were cancelled at Free State hospitals due to Level 3 lockdown regulations.
After what has been a tumultuous 12 months for South Africans, hundreds of healthy and happy babies ushered in the new year.
Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal delivered the most New Year's babies. Gauteng welcomed 225 bundles of joy compared to KZN's 140.
Most of the babies who were born in Gauteng - 161, to be precise - were born at district hospitals and clinics. Academic and other large hospitals delivered 64 newborns.
Chris Hani Baragwanath Academic Hospital in Soweto delivered 15 babies, 22 were born at Tembisa Hospital, Kalafong and George Mukhari Hospitals delivered nine babies each, Steve Biko Academic Hospital had two deliveries and seven babies were delivered at Charlotte Maxeke Johannesburg Academic Hospital. Officials said 121 babies were boys and 104 girls.
In KZN, 77 boys and 63 girls were born. One jubilant mom, Slindile Mkhize, gave birth to twin girls at Nkonjeni Hospital. She has two older children - a 15-year-old and a 12-year-old.
"I am grateful for the helpful nurses who treated me well. I've named my babies Siyamthanda and Lethukuthula. I am very happy. I hope everyone ushered in the new year peacefully, despite this Covid-19 disease," she said.
KZN Health MEC Nomagugu Simelane-Zulu urged mothers to breastfeed.
"The health and well-being of the babies is something that we take very seriously at the KZN department of health. We therefore urge all new mothers across the province to ensure that they give their babies breast milk exclusively, at least for the first six months of their lives.
"We know that it is not always possible, but they should really try because breast milk has major health benefits - such as strengthening the baby's immune system. It also creates a strong bond between the mother and the baby," Simelane-Zulu said in a statement.
In the Free State, health workers delivered 30 babies. The usual celebrations for mothers and their newborn babies at hospitals did not go ahead due to Level 3 lockdown regulations, Health MEC Montseng Tsiu said.
"This year, the department resolved to call off any non-essential visits to health facilities. This has impacted negatively on how we welcomed our new babies, but contributes to life saving non-pharmaceutical interventions, such as social and physical distancing, to prevent the spread of coronavirus.
"It has become essential that we consider every effort to save human lives against this deadly virus, even taking painful decisions that may inconvenience others," Tsiu said.
Mpumalanga welcomed 69 newborns, including 37 boys and 32 girls.
The first baby was born at Themba Hospital in Mbombela, said Health MEC Sasekani Manzini.
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