Oct 26 , 2020
Owner of 4aKid, Ally Cohen, is in the baby business. But this did little to prepare her for one of her staff going into premature labour delivering not one but two precious babies at work.
“It was like a movie,” said Cohen, who never in her wildest dreams thought she would witness the birth of twins at her Wendywood home from where she runs her baby and child safety products and accessories business.
Cynthia Nkosi, 31, didn’t think much of it when she felt a few uncomfortable abdominal pangs in the minibus taxi on her way to work on Friday, 25 September. After all, she was heavily pregnant and considered it normal. Later that morning, when the pain grew more intense, she knew “something wasn’t right”. Little did she know she was in full labour and about to give birth – several weeks before her due date.
There was no time for baby showers, bed rest, birthing plans, or even time to pack a hospital bag – let alone an epidural or other pain medication.
“I wanted to rush Cynthia to hospital, but my domestic worker, Gertrude Dlamini, who has delivered many babies before, said, “There’s no time, the babies are coming!” said Cohen, who sprang into action.
Cohen, a mother of two including a special-needs child, is no stranger to medical emergencies. She called several emergency services asking for urgent help.
“I hit the Namola app [an app allowing users to access emergency assistance] on my phone to request an ambulance,” said Cohen, who knew that time was of the essence.
“I was told there were no immediate ambulances available and a private ambulance without medical aid would cost R10 000,” she said.
“It was hectic. Cynthia felt like she needed to push. I have done basic first aid, but I was in no position to deliver a baby, let alone twins, who were in the breach position. By this stage, I was hysterical that we would lose all three without medical assistance,” she said.
Gertrude, who has worked for the Cohens for several years, said she worried that the pre-term babies would need oxygen and require emergency help.
“I have delivered many babies, but I haven’t delivered breach twins before. I was scared. I told Cynthia not to push, and to wait for the ambulance,” Dlamini told the SA Jewish Report.
Thankfully, a paramedic from Emer-G-Med arrived, who assisted the mother with the help of the experienced Gertrude. Soon after, Hatzolah arrived and took over.
Advanced life-support paramedic, Uriel Rosen of Hatzolah, knew delivery was imminent when the call came through.
“When we got to the home, the mother was already in labour, and one of the babies was already halfway out. Both babies were breach and somewhat premature, so this was by no means a simple delivery,” he said.
“The first baby was already in distress, so we had to move quickly.”
Within minutes, the first baby, a girl, was delivered. “She required oxygen, and pinked up nicely after about 15 minutes,” said Rosen.
The baby boy who came out second, about 45 minutes later, took his time following a more complicated birth, he said.
The twins were wrapped in beautiful new baby blankets from Cohen’s 4aKid stock before going to hospital.
Hatzolah transported Cynthia and her baby daughter to the Charlotte Maxeke Johannesburg Academic Hospital while Rosen accompanied the baby boy, whom he placed in an incubator in an ER24 ambulance.
“By the time we reached the hospital, the baby boy was stable and alert, and was reunited with his mother and twin sister soon after,” he said.
Rosen, whose years of experience and training kicked in, said it was “a difficult, stressful call with a very good outcome”.
“I have done many births including twins in a hospital setting. This was my first time delivering twins who both presented as breach babies outside of a hospital setting. It was a new experience, and will go down in the books,” he said.
Cynthia told the SA Jewish Report she and the babies were doing well.
“I’m so happy. I was very scared, but I’m so grateful to Ally and Gertie and all the paramedics who helped me. I was very lucky,” she said.
She named her baby daughter Fortunate and her baby son Fortune. They weighed 1.7kg and 1.8kg respectively. She believes they were a little over 34 weeks.
“It was a very exciting day at the office,” said Cohen.
“We are so grateful to Hatzolah and the emergency personnel who helped Cynthia to deliver her beautiful babies safely, a double blessing.”