11th International Normal Labour and Birth Conference

Mother and baby 

Against the backdrop of new research showing births in Australia are marked by their expense and high intervention rate, with 1 in 3 women having a caesarean section, Western Sydney University in partnership with the Australian College of Midwives will host the International Normal Labour and Birth conference in Sydney.

Held from October 10 - 13, #NormalBirth16 is the leading multidisciplinary conference in world, bringing together scientists, midwives, doctors, lawyers and consumers to discuss the current evidence and best practice to support women to have a normal labour and birth.

Conference convenor Professor Hannah Dahlen, from the School of Nursing and Midwifery, says research published in the Lancet shows Australia ranks second behind the United States as the most expensive country to have a baby.

"Medical interventions during birth are not only expensive -caesareans cost twice as much as vaginal births- they have significant health impacts on women and babies, leading to longer hospital stays, breastfeeding difficulties, psychological trauma and parenting difficulties," she says. 

"With Australia now leading the world for all the wrong reasons, it is time to examine the scientific evidence and deliver care that improves outcomes that are not only physically safe but emotionally safe."

"Many interventions during labour are unnecessary, and raise questions around a women's ability to provide informed consent during labour. Many women giving birth today are being traumatised by the experience, and this is a devastating start to parenting."


Professor Caroline Homer President of the Australian College of Midwives (ACM) says it's the first time the conference has been held in the Southern hemisphere.

"We are delighted to be joining with Western Sydney University in hosting this significant conference in one of the most beautiful cities in the world. The program has the leading researchers in normal labour and birth in the world presenting and it is very timely for this conference to be held in Australia," she says.

Speakers at the conference include:

* Professor Eugene Declercq, Boston University School of Public Health, founder of birthbythenumbers.org and Principal Investigator of the Massachusetts Outcomes Study of Assisted Reproductive Technologies (MOSART), an analysis of infant and maternal outcomes associated with assisted reproductive technologies
* Dr Kerstin Uvnas Moberg MD, Karolinska Institute, Stockholm. Dr Moberg has clinically studied the release and role of oxytocin during labour, as well as skin-to skin contact, lactation and other types of relationships
* Dr Sarah Buckley is a qualified GP and author of the internationally best-selling book Gentle Birth. Gentle Mothering, as well as Hormonal Physiology of Childbearing
* Bashi Hazard is an Australian lawyer and principal of B W Law, a legal practice directed at assisting women and children in Australia. Bashi has represented families and individuals in coronial inquests, statutory investigations and in commercial litigation

The conference will also raise money for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders to become midwives and provide culturally sensitive maternity care through the Rhodanthe Lipsett Indigenous Midwifery Charitable Fund (opens in a new window). Currently, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders have 3 times the maternal death rate and double the number of babies dying in childbirth compared to other Australians. 

With over 500 Delegates from over 20 countries and around 10 disciplines this conference looks set to provide significant leadership around supporting women to have a safe and satisfying birth.

The conference is held in Waterview, Bicentennial park (opens in a new window). The program can be accessed online.


28 September 2016

Mark Smith, Senior Media Officer