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Midwifery conference

18 Feb 2019 3:00PM

The University has hosted its first ‘Normal Birth’ Conference.

The conference was jointly organised by the University’s Midwifery Society and the School of Health Sciences and promoted natural or ‘normal’ births, as Lecturer in Midwifery, Jo Butler, explains, “As midwives, we have a huge role in promoting normal birth. Women often see normal birth as their normal. That may be a variety of different births but ultimately by normal birth we are referring to physiological birth, so vaginal birth that is spontaneous in onset that is not induced, where there are no interventions. We promoted that approach in all settings at the conference- at home, in the hospital setting, in midwife-led units. It is about collaboration, about everybody working together.”

Jo Wilkinson and Jenny Primrose are joint Presidents of the University’s Midwifery Society and have just entered their final year of their degree. Jo said, “The conference was the ideal opportunity to bring educators, midwives, doulas and students together. To learn from and support each other. The society is an ideal opportunity for students to learn and share experiences and this was enhanced throughout the day. My main reason for becoming a midwife is to support women. As Anna Connan-Byrom said, it is about a good outcome and a good experience. I feel it is our responsibility to do whatever we can to ensure that experience is a positive one.”

Jenny added, “We had a wide range of speakers at the conference, including Mark Harris, who is a male midwife. Mark offers birth education through the Birthing4Blokes programme and is a lecturer in Further Education. Midwifery is a female dominated profession, but it is important to consider the male’s role and his book ‘Men, Love & Birth’ re-dresses the balance from a male's perspective.’’

“Focusing on such a positive topic such as normal birth brings us as student midwives back to basics. The second year students have just completed our high-risk module, which focused on deviations from ‘normal’ and interventions (forceps, caesarean section etc). This conference came at a perfect time for us, and especially for the third years now qualifying, to remind us of simple actions to facilitate labouring women. For instance, remaining upright when birthing, ensuring the woman has refreshments and importantly assessing the birthing room and creating a relaxing space for her. All of these elements can really make a difference to women's experience of labour and birth.”

Anna Coonan-Byrom, Senior Midwifery Lecturer at the University of Central Lancashire and Editor-in-Chief of The Practising Midwife gave the keynote address. She said, “My keynote today was all about reawakening the role and purpose of the midwife and to give midwives the evidence they need to support them in doing their job as best they can to improve outcomes for women and babies.”

“It is fantastic the conference has been organised, in part, by the University’s Midwifery Society. Student midwifery societies are so important in celebrating work, sharing information and improving practice. This university is shining bright in doing that; helping students develop their leadership skills so they can improve services when they qualify.”

To find out more about studying Midwifery at the University of Suffolk visit


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