Midwife Joanna Ramsay has been recognised for nearly 25 years of work with the Paraparaumu Maternity Unit, being nominated as a finalist for a Capital and Coast District Health Board award for her outstanding contribution to midwifery.
Presented by the Capital and Coast District Health Board at their 2020 Ngā Tohu Angitu Celebrating our Success Awards, Joanna said she felt extremely proud to be one of three finalists in her category.
"I felt extremely proud and honoured to be nominated by my boss and to be recognised in this way," Joanna said.
"I just love it here but hardly anyone knows about it."
Joanna is talking about the Paraparaumu Maternity Unit, situated in a wing of the Kapiti Health Centre in Warrimoo St, Paraparaumu.
While many women opt for being closer to a hospital to give birth, Joanna has spent nearly 25 years working at the primary birthing facility with two beds and a third room with a birthing pool, which is part of the Wellington Regional Hospitals Women's Health Service.
While there are no doctors on site, the unit specialises in post-natal care with midwives at the facility 24/7 to support your LMC (lead maternity care), your chosen midwife during and after birth.
"People think going to hospital is safer but at a primary birthing facility we look after you postnatally.
"To start birthing here is ideal, it empowers women in their birthing process and early parenting.
"It's a big deal going through labour and giving birth and we are able to give the women and their baby some time, a space, and some kind attention and education.
"Love, attention and education is what we're about.
"This is a job that I get to do with my heart."
With strict rules around visiting during levels 3 and 4, the Paraparaumu unit was very quiet, but is now picking up.
"It was incredibly quiet during Covid-19 because people weren't allowed a visitor, so a lot more people had home births.
"We've been a lot busier now, in October we had 15 births, that was a great month and that's what we like."
A usual day for Joanna starts with a handover report from the midwives before her followed by ordering linen, food and pharmacy supplies.
She will then help look after the women with her primary job being education.
"We have a lot of education to do, showing them how to breastfeed and teaching mothercraft along with ensuring their physical wellbeing.
"Mothercraft includes handling a baby, how you be with a baby, changing a nappy, dressing them, how warm they need to be and so on.
"If they stay a bit longer we teach them how to birth their baby and how to talk to it.
"We promote attachment and bonding. The first few days are very different for the baby being out of the womb.
"It has to learn to feed, to go from being an aquatic little mammal to an air breathing mammal.
"It's a huge adaptation for the baby, so we give them suggestions on how to make this transition easier."
Talking to Joanna, it is clear why she has been nominated for this award.
"We are the cook, the cleaner, the clerical, the phone, the doorkeepers but the most important thing is to be kind.
"Even with people who are really grumpy or upset, you just kill them with kindness and they come around."
One of the most memorable births for Joanna was in the carpark outside the unit.
"The woman was determined to have her baby that day, she had walked 10km throughout the day and she came in in labour later that night.
"We were called to say she was coming in, I hear a car screeching up, hear a big groan outside, I grab some towels, run out, and catch the baby right there in the car.
"But what she said to me later is what I've always remembered.
"She said 'I'm not afraid of birth, I chose to have this baby this day'. Being with that woman that night, you could feel the power of that woman.
"She was strong, courageous and powerful.
"The highlight of my job is all the women, but that woman stands out."
At 62 years Joanna is still going strong, loving on every woman who comes in.
"It's a beautiful job where I can give my love and have a deep respect for those I'm caring for."