In praise of the midwife…


With tomorrow, Thursday May 5, being International Day of the Midwife, a new maternity hospital has chosen an apt month to open its doors.

Origin Family-centred Maternity Hospital in Panorama, Parow, is set to open at the end of May, and is the first hospital in South Africa to offer the opportunity to give birth assisted by a highly trained midwife who gets to know their patient during pregnancy and stays with them throughout labour. Obstetricians are on hand should they be required, and all the necessary medical back-up is in place.

Chief operations officer of Origin, Sydney Grové (who has delivered or assisted with delivering more than 23 000 babies) recently oversaw a Florence Nightingale Dedication Ceremony and Taking of Vows by Origin’s midwives. They all have extensive experience but have undergone intensive further training.

”Midwives are a dying breed in South Africa,” said Mr Grové. “Unfortunately many of the good ones have gone overseas, but we are particularly fortunate to have got back from overseas – especially the Middle East – some wonderful, highly skilled midwives. We will make 100 percent sure that the values that Florence Nightingale instilled into the profession of nursing and nursing science will be maintained in our hospital.”

Gynaecologist and obstetrician Dr Howard Manyonga, accredited facilitator for risk management for the Professional Protection Society and member of the independent Clinical Governance Committee of Origin, said he has been learning from midwives for “all of my life.”

Veteran international nursing consultant Lydia Botha, also a member of Origin’s Clinical Governance Committee, stressed the crucial role of midwives, saying:

“Every year millions of women and newborns around the world are tended by skilled midwives. Every day thousands of babies are born, mothers are cared for and lives are saved by them. Improvements are still needed to ensure that all women have access to a qualified midwife.

“This year the theme for the International Day of the Midwife (celebrated each year on May 5) is ‘Women and Newborns: The heart of midwifery’.

“To a midwife what is more important than making sure pregnant women have access to the best hospital care?”

Ms Botha also shared a few words about Florence Nightingale and her team, and what they achieved.

“In 1965 the International Council of Nurses announced May 12, Florence Nightingale’s birthday, as International Nurses Day, which is commemorated yearly. She was born in Italy to an English couple in 1820, and named after her birthplace.