Abdulaziz Petersen and Nadeema Jaffer wait for the arrival of their baby girl. Tracey Adams African News Agency (ANA)
Tucked away behind Main Road in Mowbray lies a tranquil place where life literally begins.

The Mowbray Maternity Hospital has been in operation since 1967 and it dates back to 1916, when it first operated as a nursing home.

The hospital delivers around 820 babies per month.

In August, 907 newborns were delivered and its chief executive, Janine Joemat, said every new birth was special to the staff.

“Everything about working here is special. There is a tremendous sense of cohesion,” said Joemat.

In 2016 the hospital celebrated its 100th centenary.

“We were so lucky to have one of the Rivonia trialists, Dennis Goldberg, here with us for that occasion and he claims that he himself was born here. He said his mother told him that he was the first baby born here,” said Joemat.

The hospital started out as a nursing home, then became a mental hospital and today it’s one of the most well-known maternity hospitals in the country.

Mowbray Maternity is proud to be the first hospital in the world where sextuplets were born who all lived beyond infancy.

The mother of those babies, Susan Rosenkowitz, also attended the centenary celebrations in December 2016.

The hospital has a staff complement of 378. There are 205 beds and, according to Joemat, each can easily be used by three different mother on any given day.

The facility is a specialised maternity unit, but there are entry criteria.

“You must medically qualify to come here and you must reside in the catchment area,” said Joemat.

At the moment the hospital sees mothers-to-be who have been referred from False Bay Hospital, the Mitchells Plain Midwife Obstetrics Unit (MOU), Mitchells Plain District Hospital, the Hanover Park MOU and the Retreat MOU.

In July 2013 the hospital recorded its highest birth rate at 1023.

“This has become our new norm. It’s kept on like that for a few months,” said a smiling Joemat.

The hospital has a special skin-on-skin unit where mothers and fathers can place their baby on their naked chest for a skin-to-skin experience.

Joemat is filled with much pride for her “excellent staff”.

“We do our best and we hold ourselves accountable,” said Joemat.

Consultant Anne Horack has been working at the unit since 2002 and was born at the Mowbray Maternity hospital in 1975.

“I love this job. It is very rewarding here at Mowbray. Everyone here works so hard. I will be here forever if I can,” said Horack.

Sarah Willemse, who has been working at the hospital for the past 30 years, has started a campaign to boost staff morale.

Joemat said while there was always joy, the facility has its fair share of challenges.

Weekend Argus