Even a woman who does her own knock-down, drag-out stunts can be thrown for a loop by childbirth. Two days after she gave birth to her new daughter on May 27 at the small Cottage Medi-Clinic in Swakopmund, a coastal town of some 20,000 in the African nation of Namibia, Angelina Jolie reported “feeling good, but a bit sore,” says a friend. Mostly, though, the new mom, along with dad Brad Pitt, are flat-out ecstatic about the arrival of their newborn daughter, 7-lb. Shiloh Nouvel Jolie-Pitt, who was delivered via scheduled C-section (she was feetfirst, or in breech position, inside the womb) by the couple’s L.A. obstetrician, Jason Rothbart, who flew to Africa for the surgery.
“Brad was with Angelina in the operating room the entire time and cut the umbilical cord of his daughter,” Rothbart told PEOPLE. The couple themselves offered their gratitude in a statement to PEOPLE. “We would like to deeply thank the staff of the Cottage Medi-Clinic hospital for all their kindness and commitment in assuring the successful birth of our daughter,” they said. Jolie also provided another bit of news. Says her friend: “She said the baby is beautiful.”
As if there were any doubt. Yes, after months of hyper-anticipation, the world’s most glamorous family has welcomed its newest, littlest member. The birth itself was “very touching,” and everything went “absolutely normally,” says Peter Sander, director of the Cottage Medi-Clinic. “(Angelina) was treated like any other mother-to-be. She had no special requests and ate the normal hospital food.” A radiant mom and baby checked out three days after the birth. Before leaving, the new parents thanked the staff, says Sander: “Brad said, ‘It felt like home to us.’ ”
Pitt, 42, and Jolie, 31, chose Namibia as their daughter’s birthplace in April, when the entire clan, including Shiloh’s big brother Maddox, 4, and big sister Zahara, 1, settled in at the secluded Burning Shore hotel. Now back at the lodge, “everyone is doing well,” regional governor Samuel Nuuyoma tells PEOPLE. “Both (Brad and Angelina) are very excited and happy.” And Shiloh? “She’s crying a lot to let them know she’s healthy, so it’s good.”
While Shiloh – who is automatically a U.S. citizen with two American parents and also will be offered Namibian citizenship – flaunts her lung power, her parents are reveling in their new addition. “It’s an exciting time for Brad and Angie, and we are really happy for them and the kids,” Brad’s brother Doug Pitt told Missouri’s Springfield News-Leader. (Despite tabloid reports, Angelina’s brother James Haven was not in the hallway outside the delivery room, although he was in Namibia.) Jolie’s estranged father, actor Jon Voight, 67, also offered his best wishes: “I’m very, very excited for the both of them. My love is with them always.”
Meanwhile, Namibia – a place best known for the arid vastness of the Namib desert – has found itself basking in the spotlight. Locals greeted the news with pride and dismissed talk that choosing Namibia for the birth posed any risk. At the well-regarded Cottage Medi-Clinic, Jolie and her new daughter received thoroughly modern care. “She wasn’t having the baby in the middle of the bushes,” says pal Ivanna Iafigliola-Kriner of the DRC project, a community initiative to which Jolie and Pitt announced a $15,000 donation on May 29.
The couple also announced a $300,000 donation for the purchase of maternity-ward medical equipment for two Namibian state hospitals. “We want to contribute to Namibia and the people who have been so gracious to us at this time,” they said in a statement. The donation, says their philanthropic adviser Trevor Neilson, “is a thank-you and a recognition that not all parents are as lucky, that the world needs to do more to help parents who don’t have access to a safe place to have their children.”
Clearly the pair have developed a deep affection for the country, which Jolie visited in 2002 while filming the drama Beyond Borders. After spending the first part of the year hopscotching across Europe – from London to Berlin to Paris – the family quickly settled into a low-key routine at the Burning Shore, which consists of two lodges (the couple have been renting the entire facility). “It’s very plain – it’s not an upmarket establishment,” says one local. “But it’s situated right at the beach and you can be private.”
Whether racing ATVs with Maddox or taking Zahara for a bicycle ride, Pitt has been especially hands-on with Jolie’s older kids, whom he is in the process of adopting. During a mid-April visit to the Harnas Wildlife Foundation in Namibia, of which Jolie is a supporter, “Brad, three little Bushman kids, Maddox and my brother’s little boy had a wrestling competition on the lawn,” says pal Marlice van Vuuren, a director of the wildlife sanctuary. “They were jumping on (Brad) and played with him the whole time. He was really enjoying it.”
Now that Shiloh is here, the family is expected to remain in Namibia for a few weeks before heading back to L.A. so Pitt can begin shooting Ocean’s Thirteen. He’s also due to film the fable Benjamin Button with Cate Blanchett in New Orleans this fall; Jolie, for her part, has no current projects in the works since wrapping The Good Shepherd and Beowulf late last year. Mostly, both parents are focusing on the roles of Mom and Dad. “They have this incredible warmth for kids,” says musician Wyclef Jean, a friend. “Theirs is one blessed baby.”
• By Michelle Tauber and Jennifer Wulff. Mary Green in New York City, Sara Hammel and Pete Norman in London, Dee-ann Brown in Namibia, Peter Mikelbank in Paris, Courtney Rubin in Monaco and Kate Klise in Mystic, Conn.