Physiological Birth: Promoting Normality 2015

London, U.K
Friday, September 11, 2015
Physiological Birth: Promoting Normality
11th September 2015
Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, London

"Making the transition from an industrialised model
 of maternity care to a social model of birth"

  Conference Chairs: Professor Lesley Page
  Rebecca Schiller
 Keynote Address: Carolyn Hastie, Tweed Heads, Australia
Deb Pittam, Auckland, New Zealand






Lesley Page is president of the Royal College of Midwives. She was the first professor of midwifery in the UK at Thames Valley University and Queen Charlotte’s Hospital. She is a renowned international academic, advocate and activist for midwives, mothers and babies with more than 32 years’ midwifery experience. Her accomplished career has encompassed clinical practice, management and leadership, academic and policy work. She has practised midwifery in the community, hospital and home birth settings.

She is also a Visiting Professor of Midwifery at the Florence Nightingale School of Nursing and Midwifery, King’s College London, Adjunct Professor University of Technology Sydney and Visiting Professor, University of Sydney.  She has worked and lectured around the world. She was a member of the Expert Maternity Group that wrote Changing Childbirth, published in 1993, and was specialist adviser to the House of Commons Sub-committee responsible for investigating the state of maternity services in 2003 and adviser to the King’s Fund enquiry into the safety of the maternity services in England 2007-2008.

Lesley received the International Alumni Award University of Technology Sydney in 2013 and was conferred with an Honorary DSc by University of West London in November 2013. In 2014 she was made a Commander of the British Empire (CBE).



Rebecca is co-chair of the human rights in childbirth charity Birthrights and a media spokesperson on reproductive rights and birth related issues. Rebecca is a recognised birth doula, offering support to birthing women and their families in London and East Kent. She was nominated for Doula of the Year 2014 and is a director of Doula UK. Her experiences have led her to blogging and freelance journalism on related topics and her short book, All That Matters: Women’s Rights in Childbirth is published by the Guardian. Before entering the childbirth world she completed a Masters degree in War Studies with a focus on human rights issues. She has worked in the charity and NGO sector, most recently at Human Rights Watch. She has two children.



Carolyn Hastie is a mother of two children, Julia and Ben and a grandmother of two girls, Grace and Sophie. She is senior lecturer of midwifery at Southern Cross University and has been at the leading edge of midwifery practice and education for four decades. Her passion is improving care for childbearing women, partners and babies; her focus is on the neurophysiological intersection of growth, development and relationships for everyone involved. Among Carolyn’s achievements are: gaining visiting rights to public hospitals in 1984, a first for Australia; starting the first Australian midwives’ clinic in 1987; commissioning and managing a quality award winning stand-alone midwifery service which included the option to birth at home and co-writing the acclaimed Bachelor of Midwifery program which commenced in 2011 for the University of Newcastle. She has researched and written extensively on midwifery related subjects, including horizontal violence and bullying in midwifery after a young new graduate midwife she met at a workshop committed suicide in response to workplace bullying in 1996. Jodie’s suicide led Carolyn to seek ways to teach midwifery students and new graduate midwives the necessary skills to manage themselves and their relationships with colleagues in the workplace.



My name is Deb Pittam.  I am married and a mum to three young adult kids, a Midwife and a keen though not terribly talented Polocrosse player.  I am the current President of the New Zealand College of Midwives and Associate Director of Midwifery at Northland District Health Board; the northern most and warmest district of New Zealand.

I have practiced midwifery for 25 years; in both rural and urban communities as a self-employed midwife, as a core midwife (within both primary and secondary hospitals), as a midwifery educator, midwifery manager and senior advisor for the NZ Ministry of Health.

I qualified as a Registered Comprehensive Nurse in 1987 and a Registered Midwife in 1990 and completed a Bachelor of Health Science (Nursing) in 1995 and Masters in Midwifery in 2010.

Throughout my career my commitment to protecting the physiological process of pregnancy, birth, breastfeeding and mothering has been fundamental to my personal philosophy, whether practicing at the grass roots of midwifery and attending home births or within a busy hospital environment; whether in policy, management or leadership roles, there is always potential to influence. 

Sadly as we move well into the 21st century in New Zealand along with the rest of the world intervention rates continue to rise.  It is our responsibility to take a stand, to challenge unnecessary intervention at every level, to socialise evidence supporting the benefits of physiological birth for mothers and babies and the overall health of our world’s population.  We all know that intervention is sometimes necessary but we also know that in most cases it is not.  



Mobile: 07590 682955



Sheena Byrom is a practising midwife, and worked within the NHS for more than 35 years. Sheena was one of the UK’s first consultant midwives, and as a head of midwifery successfully helped to lead the development of three birth centres in East Lancashire. Sheena is a Board member of the Royal College of Midwives (RCM), a member of the RCM’s Better Births initiative, Patron of StudentMidwife.Net and Chair of the Iolanthe Midwifery Trust.

Sheena’s midwifery memoirs, Catching Babies, is a Sunday Times bestseller, and her absolute passion is promoting normal physiological birth, and a positive childbirth experience for all women. Her latest book, The Roar Behind the Silence: why kindness, compassion and respect matter in maternity care ( is jointly edited with Soo Downe, and together they hope the book will used as a resource to promote positive childbirth throughout the world.  Sheena was awarded an OBE in 2011 for services to midwifery, and she actively lobbies for maternity service improvements through several social media channels. Sheena is currently a midwife consultant, and lectures nationally on midwifery and childbirth related topics. Her personal and midwifery related website is



I am registered as a midwife and nurse. I love being around people, always have as long as I can remember; having five sisters and three brothers afforded me plenty of practice and now with five children of my own and 4 grand children (another on the way), I have lots of opportunity to indulge my people passion.
The choices I have made in my professional life have been shaped by this gregarious inclination. I have trained and worked as a Nurse, Midwife, Teacher in Further Education, hypnotherapist, NLP trainer, out reach youth worker. I still work as a Midwife offering a birth education through a programme called, Birthing For Blokes (@Birthing4Blokes), work and play often merge for me.



Ellie Durant qualified in Leicester in 2010, and since has enjoyed working in the UK and New Zealand. She runs, a site to support all midwives, but tailored to newly qualified, student, and aspiring midwives. She also runs a midwifery support group which has around 4500 members (‘The Secret Community For Midwives In The Making'). She is passionate about breaking down new research or difficult topics into an engaging and easy to read way, and believes the best way to achieve high quality care is to provide excellent support and education for midwives.


Shawn Walker is a clinical midwife and part-time PhD student with a special interest in breech presentation. She has provided consultancy, education and assistance with proactive risk management for hospitals attempting to reinstate support for planned breech births in a safe and sustainable way. She is writing her PhD on ‘Upright breech birth competence and expertise.’


Dr. Mira Lal, is a Fellow of the RCOG with a doctorate in the Physical, Mental and Social facets of benign and malignant diseases of the female reproductive organs. Her various appointments have included being an Honorary Academic in Obstetrics and Gynaecology (Ob/Gyn) at St. James University Hospital, Leeds, and the Dudley Group of Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust for a decade, Chair Emeritus and Educational Advisor of the British Society of Psychosomatic Obstetrics Gynaecology and Andrology (BSPOGA), Steering Committee member for Training in Psychosomatic Obstetrics, Gynaecology and Andrology, Executive Committee Member of the International Society of Psychosomatic Obstetrics and Gynaecology (ISPOG), International Scientific Committee member of ISPOG, Co-Founder of the Indian Society of Psychosomatic Obstetrics Gynaecology and Andrology and its Director of Education and Research, Member of the International Marcé Society (IMS), Ambassador Maternal Mental Health Alliance and several other posts. She continues to be an ambassador for the UK in teaching of her subspecialty and in promoting this has travelled to other European countries, Japan, India, China and Africa.

She was conferred a post-MRCOG PhD in December 2012 for her work encompassing Obstetrics & Gynaecology along with Psychology, Public aspects of Medicine, Neuroscience, Biological & Neuro-Psychiatry, Social pathology, Social & public welfare, Family, Marriage & Woman, and Statistics. During this research, she was guided by three supervisors to study the clinical, psychosocial & statistical aspects and evaluate the psychosocial impact of physical symptoms. Considerable hidden biopsychosocial morbidity was detected and she devised a tool to evaluate quantitatively the patient’s perception of disease severity. She advocates a biopsychosocial approach in disease assessment and has had numerous publications and presentations with several being invited. She has edited a multi-author medical text-book which will be published by Oxford University Press and will provide two chapters to another similar text-book to be published by Cambridge University Press later this year.

Her aim at 3 years of age to become a good doctor fostered lifelong learning. She has continued practising medicine despite unavoidable interruptions, such as being comatose with multiple fractures following a road traffic accident, which nevertheless gave insight into the patient’s perspective. In recognition of her efforts to advance the Art & Science of Ob/Gyn, she was granted Fellowship of the RCOG. Dr. Lal was invited and become an Expert Columnist of Sociedad Iberoamericana de Información Científica (SIIC) and has been nominated for Who's Who in Medicine and Healthcare’. She is an Educational Affiliate of FIGO and is also affiliated with several other medical societies. She was successful in her proposed bidding for London to be the 2011 venue for an official meeting of ISPOG and as President of the associated World Congress promoted low-cost education and training. She believes in the Hippocratic 1st aphorism to first do no harm.

She is working on a wider clinical translation of her doctoral work and is also striving to maintain her clinical acumen. She is keen to raise awareness of the psychosomatic aspect and helped with the UK’s recognition of this as a subspecialty. Lately she created further awareness of the Psychosomatic aspect as Faculty Member of the RCOG’s World Congress 2014, the World Congress of the European Board and College, 2014, and the Biennial meeting of the International Marcé Society, 2014 and the Indian Congress of Ob/Gyn, Chennai 2015. She was given an Award for her talk at the World Congress of the European Board, 2014.

In addition to clinical work and teaching, her duties include reviewing submitted manuscripts and Editorial Board commitments. She continues to organise study days and scientific workshops, including those for the advancement of training and recruitment in Ob/Gyn at RCOG Careers Fairs. She has given invited talks to high school pupils about pursuing a career in medicine. Since 2006 she has organised scientific meetings and chaired sessions by collaborations with the Royal Society of Medicine (RSM), RCOG and the Marcé Society of the UK & Eire. She has lectured and chaired multi-nation scientific meetings on invitations from the President of the host country. She has taught undergraduates/postgraduates in Europe, UK and Asia to advance medical education. Her recent invited lecture was delivered on the 24th February, 2015, to medical students of Birmingham University as part of their curriculum. The response was positive and the Dean has invited her for future lectures to Birmingham University students. She continues to teach in other European countries and contributed to the teaching curriculum of Milan University in April 2015.

Multifarious interests include supporting art, music and organizing role-plays for teaching videos raising awareness of Psychosomatic Obstetrics and Gynaecology.


Eleanor qualified as a midwife in 1993 in London, but went back to nursing having found the training very difficult.  After four and half years of nursing and with the support of her university tutor she returned to midwifery immersing herself in delivery suite, making up for lost time and learning from brilliant midwife role models.  She became a big fan of water birth in positions other than semi recumbent.

She moved to the west country in 2000 having done some counselling training with relate and reflexology, and then training in hypnobirthing, became a hypnotherapist and trained in Bowen technique, a hands on body therapy working on the fascia.

She most recently trained with Babette Rothschild in trauma work and has a private practice incorporating all of this understanding.

Alongside this she has remained a full time NHS midwife working on a birth centre and delivery suite; the dual awareness has given her a broader perspective and understanding on what kind of things impact mothers and babies pre pregnancy, during it, through labour and birth and in the following months.  Through applying all her learning in the midwifery world she is able to watch how the mind, body and baby work together or in opposition and support parents in a way where they feel calm, whatever their circumstances.  She will be talking about how understanding the primitive brain can impact birth and normalise it, and how to be alert to signs of potential trauma.


Until April 2014 he was a consultant obstetrician at the Chelsea and Westminster Hospital, where he conducted antenatal clinics with a special interest in cardiac disease. He was appointed a consultant in 1981, Professor in 1989, and emeritus Professor in 2007. His doctorate was a study of uterine activity in labour and its augmentation by oxytocin. He has published 122 research papers in peer reviewed Journals, mainly on fetal monitoring in labour and the antenatal care of high risk pregnancies. He also has a special interest in using computers to improve the delivery of care. He has also published 63 reviews, editorials and invited papers, and 54 books and book chapters. He is an editor of ‘High Risk Pregnancy – Management Options’, one of the world’s leading textbooks on high risk pregnancy, with the fifth edition currently in preparation. He was on the executive committee of the British Association of Perinatal Medicine from 1988 to 1992 and President from 1996 to 1999. He was a founder member of the British Maternal and Fetal Medicine Society and organised the labour section of the annual scientific meeting from its foundation in 1997 until 2001. He was then convenor of meetings for the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists from 2004-2006. He was President of the section of obstetrics and gynaecology of the Royal Society of Medicine 2008-9. He was Editor-in-Chief of BJOG – an International Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology from 2005-2012 and is currently editor emeritus.


I became a nurse in 1993 and a midwife in 1997.  In 2000 I set up in independent practice. In 2003 a colleague joined me and Kent Midwifery Practice was born. In 17 years as a midwife I have witnessed many changes in some aspects of the profession and a frustrating lack of change in others. I have travelled to Turkey, France and Malaysia to support women in childbirth.  In 2014 I contributed to midwifery history by helping to secure professional indemnity insurance for Independent midwives. In the same year I starred in the hugely popular ‘Home Delivery’ ITV documentary and spearheaded a national breastfeeding campaign; RUMINA, alongside human rights lawyers Unity Law, which calls to stop discrimination against breastfeeding woman in public places. I am the designer and manufacturer of the Howes Birth Mirror which sells to normal birth communities worldwide. My memoirs ‘The Baby’s Coming: A Story of Dedication by an Independent Midwife’ was published in 2014. In 2015 I was runner up in the BJM awards for Midwife of the Year.


Hi Everyone

I love the NHS and have worked in it since 1984, its values and principles mean the world to me and I want to see it thrive, develop and grow. At the very heart of my soul is compassionate care and I believe this is true of the majority of nurses, doctors, midwives and allied health professionals. I have loved every minute of my time from being an Enrolled Nurse to where I am now as a Consultant Midwife in this wonderful service, despite it being very hard work.

I have always believed that academia is an important part of my journey and I am a real life long learner. There has never been a part of my life where I haven’t been doing a course alongside my day job. I just hope that I have been a role model to my three girls, instilling in them that if you try hard you can do anything. Who would have thought I could achieve a PhD, my Maths teacher from school would be astounded!

My PhD took me on a journey into feminist technoscience, which was led by the findings from women and midwives. It was a fascinating journey and taught me so much. I will be forever in the debt of Professor Dame Tina Lavender for supporting me through it and Dr Carol Kingdon for helping me understand the world of feminist technoscience. I see the influences of this within society and maternity care every day, it opened up my eyes to so many new perspectives. I feel honoured and proud to be able to discuss what I found with you at this conference.

In my day job as a Consultant Midwife I strive to ensure all women have the best birth experience possible, while trying to keep the first birth normal. I aim to inspire and grow passionate midwifery. Our Trust is linked to UCLAN so I am priveledged to work with Professor Soo Downe, developing research projects and generally feeding off her amazing brain!  I also work with a wonderful Head of Midwifery, Cathy Atherton, where we share the same vision and can move the service forward so much together. I also work with inspirational Obstetricians, Midwives and Student Midwives on a daily basis, working together as a superb multidisciplinary team.

I believe in evidence-based practice and that service users should be at the heart of our service. I was also lucky enough to be a member of the NICE Intrapartum Guideline (2014) Development Group, which was a fantastic experience and will hopefully make some key changes to birth in the UK, including place of birth, fetal heart rate monitoring and optimal cord clamping. I put my life and soul into the guideline, as many others did too, but I hope you can see where I have used the evidence to influence the recommendations.

Im looking forward to spending time with you at the conference, come and say hello and stay in contact with me on twitter- drtraceyc.

Love and hugs

Tracey x


Kate Brian is an author and journalist who specialises in fertility. She is the London Representative of the charity Infertility Network UK and Editor of the Journal of Fertility Counselling. She is a member of the RCOG's Women's Network and of the Advisory Council of the National Gamete Donation Trust. Kate writes freelance features for magazines and newspapers, and presented the Radio 4 documentary "The New Viking Invasion" about Danish sperm donors. Kate has written four fertility-related books, including "Precious Babies - Pregnancy, Birth and Parenting after Infertility". Her own two children were both IVF babies.


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