2021 was a busy and challenging year on Wodonga's maternity ward, as staff delivered a huge 1750 babies while dealing with local COVID outbreaks.
Director of Midwifery and Nursing for Albury Wodonga Health's Women's and Children's Services, Julie Wright, said 2021 was the second biggest year for births on record, eclipsed only by the 1762 babies born in 2015.
"2020 was a very flat year we had one of our smallest years in about the last 15 years, so we had 166 more births in 2021 compared to 2020," she said.
The largest baby born in 2021 weighed in at a whopping 12 pounds (5.47 kilograms).
Boys outnumbered girls on the ward with 887 males born and 863 females.
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Last year also saw a baby boom among staff with a large number of maternity ward workers getting pregnant.
Midwives noticed a trend favouring traditional names like Edward and Ruby.
Evie, Ava, Olivia, Tally, Matilda, Jackson, Jaxon, Jack, Oliver and Hudson were all popular baby names in 2021.
While some of the more unusual names included Sage, Lucifer and Bengin.
For the staff at Wodonga's maternity ward, rapid antigen tests and full PPE have become the norm since 2020.
But 2021 was the first year staff had to deal with COVID-positive patients and partners, and staffing challenges due to colleagues testing positive. No positive staff worked on the ward.
"Staff were obviously challenged, particularly in the latter half of the year and that is coming to the surface again now with more COVID in our community," Ms Wright said.
"From my perspective I am so in awe and so humbled and professionally impressed by their commitment, their resilience and their ability to just keep stepping up.
"They just do their job and get on with it and accept that this is part of our world and they're here to provide the best care they can for patients."
COVID safety restrictions mean patients are only allowed one support person during labor and that person is the only one allowed to visit them on the ward.
Ms Wright said this could be difficult for patients but was unfortunately necessary to protect staff and ensure a safe environment for the new mother.
She said there was a heightened awareness of the risks now COVID was well and truly in the community.
"I want staff to feel safe and reassured when they come to work and similarly I want our patients to walk into our ward and have their baby [safely]," she said. "It's really just trying to protect our new mums and their families the best way we know."
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