AFTER being present at the birth of countless babies during her 17 years as a midwife, Yvonne Medina is constantly running into those she's helped along the way.
"My son says we can't go somewhere without bumping into someone who I've helped deliver into the world, or their family," she said.
"I've lost count over the years. It would be hundreds and hundreds; 40-55 births a year in the past nine years."
Mrs Medina, 53, has worked in the midwifery group practice at Wollongong Hospital for nine years, and has been based at the hospital for 24 years; nursing prior to midwifery.
The Albion Park resident was recently acknowledged by being presented with the NSW Midwife of the Year Award, judged by the Australian College of Midwives and Johnson's Baby.
The mother of two's current role entails looking after women from about the 13-week stage of pregnancy through to the birth and two weeks after the child is born.
"It's wonderful watching the families," she said.
"Women coming in with their partner and you help that transition from a couple into a family.
"You never grow tired of watching babies come into the world - it's a privilege.
"The birth is always a buzz."
"You're watching that new life, this new little person come into the world, and it's quite amazing."
Mrs Medina said her change in careers was akin to going from one extreme to another.
"I wanted a change from nursing, something different," she said.
"I was experiencing a lot of people who were dying or gravely ill.
"Going from having people pass away to seeing people introduce this new life into the world.
"It has its sad times, but most of the time it's a positive job.
"This caseload [role] brings you closer to people.
"You get to know them, they get to know you and you form a bond."
She said the occupation featured its share of challenge though, including often having non-defined working hours.
"It evolves, such as three years ago we started doing publicly-funded home births through this program," she said.
Mrs Medina was recently "stunned" to walk into a room full of people, including her family, at the hospital and be informed she'd received this prestigious honour.
She has had four nominations throughout her career.
"I was absolutely blown away; I burst into tears.
"I think all the midwives working here deserve this award for all the hard work we do," Mrs Medina said.