Robyn continues helping new mothers after 39 years of service

Calvary North Adelaide Hospital’s Midwife and postnatal educator Robyn Davies (pictured above right with Liz Kleinig, Clinical Maternity Unit Manager) retired nearly a year ago on 22 April 2016 after 39 years of service. Post retirement Robyn continues helping new mothers, now as a Lactation Consultant.

Robyn, undertook her initial training at The Children’s Hospital in Kermode Street, North Adelaide (Now the Women’s and Children’s Hospital) and her obstetrics training in NSW, including a year of midwifery at the Royal North Shore.

“I only ever wanted to be a nurse,” she says. “It was my only ambition. My dad was a GP and when I was very young I remember getting into his books. He had the most fabulous Obstetrics and Gynaecology books and I would pour over them. They were fascinating to me. And I always loved babies so it was a natural progression for me to start my training at The Children’s Hospital.”

When she returned to Adelaide at the age of 22, she married Nigel and two years later they started a family, welcoming Peter and Nicci fifteen months apart. Both children were born at Calvary North Adelaide.

Robyn started work at Calvary in 1977, mainly doing night duty so she could be with her young family during the day. She did three or four nights a week over a period of 21 years. In the early 1990s she started her Bachelor Nursing at the University of SA and then completed a Graduate Certificate in Child Youth and Family Health at Flinders University, graduating in 1998. Robyn then undertook Lactation IBLC (International Board of Lactation Consultants). While she was studying, she worked as a casual at both Calvary North Adelaide and the Women’s and Children’s. A year after she graduated she secured a permanent position at Calvary, much to her delight.

“Calvary felt like home to me and I was so glad to get home!” she recalled.

Robyn went on to work in Antenatal education and the Postnatal Clinic at Calvary North Adelaide.

“Kathy Grieve set up this wonderful Postnatal Clinic where the women, after they’d been discharged could come back and see a midwife who was also a lactation consultant and they could get help. It was a brilliant service…she also added to the usual Antenatal classes, a class for grandparents which continues today. It’s the only hospital that offers this class and gives Calvary the edge. Holistic care, all-encompassing care – I was all for it!”

“I was also on the Mission Integration Committee for seven years. I worked with some of the managers and the CEOs and Sister Thora Specht – a wonderful, very intelligent lady. One of the things I could see was that people didn’t know who anybody else was in the hospital. I was keen to set up story boards in all the wards. I’d take people’s photos and put up a display board in the foyer. We did that for a couple of years, and then of course, you need to try different things, but that was a real integration of what Mission was about. I think Calvary’s values are the world’s best. Inducting people into the Mary Potter story and what she was about is very important, learning about her Sisters, what her ideals were – really understanding her values. That’s the crunch for me. If you take those values on board you can be assured you’re going to do a good job – but you have to take them on board.”

“The biggest plus of my working life has been working with the women and their babies. As I became more experienced in the role, I grew away from the babies; the women and their families became more important to me. The mothers were the ones I’d make friends with very quickly. My heart would go out to them; they became my focus and I loved the ongoing contact.”

“In rounding up my career, the thing that strikes me are two big words, Trust and Respect. Women come in and place their trust in us as midwives when we are looking after them so intimately. The trust they have in us is amazing and the respect they have for what we are doing and in turn the respect we have for them as women, mothers, families – that’s the most empowering thing about the whole profession really. Whenever people see surveys, nurses are always at the top in the level of trust and I believe that absolutely.

I’ve now set up my own business as a Lactation Consultant. I’m looking forward to still using the skills I have. I don’t want to let go quite yet. I haven’t finished being passionate… I’ve given a lot, but I’ve got a lot back. Working for Calvary has been very special.”