Amid the joy and celebration of the festive season, public health facilities nationwide welcomed 1 708 healthy babies on Christmas Day this year, a significant increase from the 1 414 deliveries recorded in 2022.
Statistics from the Health Department further showed a balanced distribution, with 840 baby boys and 868 baby girls entering the world on December 25.
The 1 708 births also included more than 145 teen mothers.
“The Department of Health extends its heartfelt congratulations to the dedicated health workers, particularly the midwives, for their tireless efforts in ensuring the safe delivery of these precious bundles of joy. Special wishes go out to all parents, including more than 145 teenage mothers, as they embark on the rewarding journey of parenthood.
“The department is scaling up human milk banking for survival and healthy growth for babies born to mothers who are unable to breastfeed to ensure no baby is deprived of nutritious breast milk,” Health Department spokesperson Foster Mohale said.
Meanwhile, the department also expressed concern about the increasing number of teen mothers because “this has potential to affect their future”.
Young mothers may be forced to take a break from their academic journey to take care of their children, the department said.
“The department calls on society to collaborate with government on its sexual and reproductive health awareness campaign meant to empower young people to make use of health services, especially family planning and contraceptive use in order to prevent unplanned pregnancies,” said Mohale.
He added that the Health Department had established “youth-friendly zones” in primary health-care facilities or clinics, to ensure young people don’t wait in the queue with the rest of the clients and are also served by young health-care workers to openly discuss their health needs.
In the Western Cape, which saw 231 babies born at public health facilities across the province on Christmas Day, there were 111 baby boys and 120 baby girls.
Landon Matthew Joseph, a baby boy weighing 2.48kg, stole the spotlight as the first arrival at Mossel Bay Hospital at precisely midnight, to the delight of his mother, Nadine Joseph.
Shortly after, at 12.09am, Hanover Park CHC welcomed Luphawo Twani, a baby girl weighing 3.14kg, born to mother Andisiwe Twani.
Worcester Hospital celebrated the third Christmas baby, a baby boy weighing 2.9kg, born at 12.15am to mother Rebekka Smit.
The Western Cape also welcomed two sets of twins, one born at Mowbray Maternity Hospital and the other at Tygerberg Hospital.
“As families around the Western Cape and the world over, I wish to congratulate those who will be celebrating the births of their children during this time of festivity. As you begin this journey of parenthood, let us work together as a society and government to ensure that our precious ones are given a strong and stable start to their lives,” Western Cape Health MEC Dr Nomafrench Mbombo said.
The distribution of newborns across provinces is as follows:
Eastern Cape: 221
North West: 121
Free State: 76
Western Cape: 231
Northern Cape: 47