Midwife to retire after delivering babies for generations of Melton families
Melton’s St Mary’s Birth Centre has played a huge part in Andrea Dziemianko’s life - she was born there in 1964 and after training as a midwife she has worked almost half of her life there.
But on Thursday, after managing the unit and the Melton and Rutland community midwifery teams for the last 14 years, she will say a sad farewell to colleagues after deciding to retire.
It’s been a remarkable career in which Andrea has nurtured unique bonds with generations of Melton families, offering support to them at some of the most important times in their lives.
She told the Melton Times: “I will be sad to leave this role, having spent nearly half my life working at the birth centre it will always remain a special place for me.
“The babies I have delivered are now having babies themselves.
“I would like to say a big thank you to the hard-working, dedicated professionals I have worked alongside because they have made my job an absolute pleasure.”
Andrea and her colleagues were given the disappointing news this year that the Thorpe Road baby unit will close, with the service relocated to Leicester as part of the health authority’s plan to consolidate county maternity services in the city.
She has seen a number of campaigns fight off moves to close the birth centre because of what are considered a low number of births to make it cost-effective.
But Andrea believes the excellent support staff give to mums before and after they give birth is just as important.
“It has been a difficult job as manager because there has always been this cloud of closure over the unit,” she said.
“The birth centre is a unique experience for families and it is very sad we are going to lose it.
“The level of support we can offer to mums afterwards is just hard to access anywhere else and this is what people in Melton have fought for for so long.”
Andrea attended Sherard, Sarson and King Edward VII Schools in the town before training as a nurse in Norwich in 1983.
After qualifying as a midwife, she worked at Leicester Royal Infirmary before taking up a midwifery post at St Mary’s Birth Centre in 1993 for 13 years.
She went on to manage community midwifery teams in the city for a short period before returning to manage the Melton baby unit in November 2007.
“It’s still an absolute prviliege to be there for a birth,” said Andrea, who is a mum-of-two herself.
“It’s as fantastic now as the first one was, that feeling never goes away although I perhaps don’t get as nervous as I used to get in the earlier days of my career.”
Andrea thanked her husband of 31 years, Jim, for his support over the years: “He put up with all my shifts and on-calls.
“The dashing out and having to change shifts at the drop of a hat.
“It has been difficult having to go out at three in the morning in the winter, scraping the car at that time in the frost when the whole street can hear you.”
Working through the pandemic has been hugely challenging, she says, with staff having to wear and change PPE and families being separated due to the need to limit numbers in the birth centre.
Andrea is a big fan of popular BBC drama, Call The Midwife, and she believes it will help recruit future midwives to the profession.
“We often say to each other ‘this situation could have been on Call The Midwife’, she said.
“There are lots of similarities between the way that small community of midwives work to working in a standalone birth centre like St Mary’s.
“We are working in a small community and we follow a mum’s journey through to having their baby and giving them support afterwards.”
She added: “Teamwork is the key to success and I’ve never shied away from stepping in clinically, making the toast or cleaning the birth rooms.
“The whole team is valued from the cleaners to the midwives and everyone is there to give the best possible care to the mums, dads and babies.”
Andrea has signed up to the local bank of midwives so she can still work occasionally when there are local staff shortages and she will also work as a Covid vaccinator next year.
She added: “I am passing the baton on to an experienced midwife, Sam Whait, and I have every confidence that she will maintain the community-based support which is the philosophy of St Mary’s Birth Centre.”