The birth of a healthy baby is always something to celebrate, and Victoria’s Epworth Freemasons is close to delivering 3,000 bundles of joy this year.
The hospital’s maternity unit is marking 30 years of helping new lives into the world, with the first baby born at Epworth arriving back in September 1991.
Midwife Judy Jackson was among the original staff and said she was proud to still be working there today.
“Epworth Freemasons is like an extended family,” she said. “And it was such a big part of my life when my young family was growing up.
“My children say it was part of their lives too. In fact, two of my grandsons were born at Epworth Freemasons.
“Our team cares for each patient as if they were family.”
Ms Jackson said she often ran into former patients who had fond memories of the care they received at the Melbourne hospital.
“A couple of years ago, I was at my grandson’s school and a woman who was there with her Year 12 daughter recognised me – I cared for her when her daughter was born,” she said.
Five years ago, Ms Jackson moved to the special care nursery, which has just had its busiest month in more than 13 years.
“The special care nursery has been quiet during lockdowns but in August we cared for 52 babies, including six sets of twins,” she said.
Obstetrician Len Kliman estimates he has delivered more than 20,000 babies during the past 30 years, with many of them born at Epworth Freemasons.
He said a lot of things had changed in that time, but the fundamentals remained the same.
“It’s a privilege to care for a family on one of the biggest days in their lives,” Dr Kliman said.
“That’s one of the reasons that I have been an obstetrician for as long as I have.
“I feel proud to have been here since we opened maternity 30 years ago, and it’s that feeling of family and first-class care for my patients that has kept me here since then.”
The average age of mothers at Epworth Freemasons is 34 and, according to the hospital's Executive General Manager Simon Benedict, staff are beginning to see a second generation of Epworth babies being born.
“In fact, a patient services staff member and her three sisters were all born at Epworth Freemasons, and that staff member delivered her son here last year,” Mr Benedict said.
“People keep coming back to have their babies at Epworth Freemasons because of our personalised approach and support, every step of the way.
“Our recently-appointed maternity concierge helps people navigate their way through booking with us and with any questions about their hospital stay.
“We also have dedicated pre-admissions midwives to help with any concerns before they come in and talk through any physical or mental wellbeing questions during pregnancy, working closely alongside our wonderful Epworth Freemasons obstetricians.”
To celebrate the 30th anniversary of the maternity unit, Epworth has launched a book for parents-to-be, called 'Bump, Birth and Bub'.
The book follows the journey from early pregnancy through to birth, newborn care, and self-care for parents.
Written by Epworth experts, it answers the most frequently-asked questions in an easy-to-understand way, arming parents with trusted information when they need it most.