Keynote Speakers

11th International Normal Labour and Birth Conference

We will have a wonderful array of speakers (midwives, obstetricians, lawyers and consumers) including:

Professor Eugene DeclercqProfessor Eugene Declercq

Eugene Declercq is the Professor of Community Health Sciences and Assistant Dean for DrPH Education at the Boston University School of Public Health and professor on the faculty of Obstetrics and Gynecology at the Boston University School of Medicine. He has served as lead author of national reports on women's experiences in childbirth and in the postpartum period entitled Listening to Mothers I, II & IIIand New Mothers Speak Out and is the founder of the website www.birthbythenumbers.org.  He is one of the Principal Investigators for the Massachusetts Outcomes Study of Assisted Reproductive Technologies (MOSART) an NIH funded study of infant and maternal outcomes associated with assisted reproductive technologies. He was awarded the 2013 Martha May Eliot award from the American Public Health Association for service to maternal and child health in the U.S.


Kerstin Uvnäs MobergKerstin Uvnäs Moberg

Kerstin Uvnäs Moberg is an MD, PhD from the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm and a full professor of physiology at the University of Agriculture. She has published more than 450 peer reviewed original and review papers and supervised more than 30 PhD students.  She spent her 10 first year as a scientist within the field of gastrointestinal physiology with a particular interest in the endocrine system of the gastrointestinal tract and the role of the vagal nerve. In the beginning of the 1980 ies her research focus shifted to the physiology and psychology of oxytocin based on animal experiments and clinical studies. The role of sensory stimulation such as touch, warmth and stroking, for the release of oxytocin was studied in animal experiments. The release and role of oxytocin during labor, skin-to-skin contact, lactation and other types of relationships was studied in clinical studies.

Recent research topics include the role of oxytocin in human animal interactions and the role of human animal interactions on wellbeing and health and also the beneficial role of oxytocin in menopause.

She has published several books, e.g. the oxytocin factor and the hormone of closeness and oxytocin the biological guide to motherhood.


Dr Sarah BuckleyDr Sarah Buckley

Dr Sarah Buckley is a qualified GP with training in GP obstetrics, and is currently a full-time writer and lecturer on pregnancy, birth and parenting. She is the author of the internationally best-selling book Gentle Birth. Gentle Mothering, (Celestial Arts/Penguin Random House, 2009) and is also the mother of four children.

Sarah has a special interest in hormonal physiology and was commissioned by Childbirth Connection (US) to write a scientific report on this topic. Hormonal Physiology of Childbearing was published in January 2015 by Childbirth Connection, now a program of the National Partnership for Women and Families, with support from DONA International and Lamaze International. This report has been described as "…one of the most revolutionary and influential publications on maternity and newborn care ever issued."

Sarah is committed to the best possible outcomes for mothers, babies, fathers and families in relation to hormonal physiology in childbearing and is currently also pursuing a PhD on this topic.

For more about Sarah and her work see www.sarahbuckley.com and her membership website www.gentlenaturalbirth.com.


Professor Caroline HomerProfessor Caroline Homer

Caroline is the President of the Australian College of Midwives. She was the first President to be publicly elected, has been an active member of ACM for more than 18 years and has served on many national and state-based committees.In her day job, she is the Director of the Centre for Midwifery, Child and Family Health, Director of Midwifery Studies and the Associate Dean for International and Development in the Faculty of Health at the University of Technology Sydney. She has led research into the development and implementation of innovative models of midwifery care and the translation of research into clinical practice and holds ARC and NHMRC grants. She has been involved in the development and evaluation of midwifery and maternity services in Australia and in in a number of other countries in the Asia Pacific region, including Papua New Guinea, Samoa and Timor Leste. She was an author in the Lancet Series of Midwifery and the 2014 State of the World's Midwifery Report.


Image Professor Alec Welsh

Professor Alec Welsh

Qualifications: GAICD MBBS MSc PhD FRCOG(MFM) FRANZCOG CMFM DDU

Professor Welsh is a subspecialist in Maternal-Fetal Medicine (MFM) with Masters and PhD degrees in Digital Imaging and Fetal Imaging. He is an active clinician in both obstetrics and maternal-fetal medicine, and is a strong believer in collaboration between midwives and obstetricians in maternity care. He runs a Fetal Imaging Research team of ten at UNSW and coordinates the Perinatal Academic Group at RHW. He helped to establish the NSW Fetal Therapy Centre at the Royal Hospital for Women and performs laser therapy for twin-twin-transfusion syndrome as well as all other fetal procedures. Within the fetal medicine and fetal imaging research community, Professor Welsh has multiple collaborations including research groups of the Universities of Oxford, Sao Paolo, Michigan & Baylor College of Medicine. He has approximately 75 peer-reviewed publications.


Professor Maralyn FoureurProfessor Maralyn Foureur
Centre for Midwifery, Child and Family Health, University of Technology Sydney 


A midwife for 40 years and academic for the past 20, Maralyn Foureur is Professor of Midwifery at the University of Technology Sydney (UTS). She is one of an inspiring team of midwives who prepare graduates to competently and compassionately care for women during pregnancy, childbirth and early parenting. In 1984 Maralyn set up the first independent midwifery practice in Australia with visiting rights to maternity hospitals in Newcastle, NSW. This was the inspiration for one of the first randomised controlled trials of continuity of midwifery care (under her previous surname Rowley); a study that now forms part of the Cochrane systematic review of this model of care. With a record of 100 publications and more than $5 million in research grants, Maralyn is regarded as a world leader in researching birth unit design and its impact on childbearing women and families and the quality and safety of maternity care provided by midwives. Her research findings have been translated into the design of several new Australian maternity units in Sydney, Canberra and Townsville and she is currently part of a team of researchers in Denmark undertaking a randomised controlled trial in this area.
"My lifetime research has contributed knowledge to understanding how relationship based care and an optimally-designed birth unit provide the best environment for labour and birth to unfold."


Sheena Byrom OBE  Sheena Byrom OBE

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. Currently Sheena is working as a midwifery expert at North Cumbria University Hospitals NHS Trust, and is one of the project leads for a new exciting development, the Midwifery Unit Network.

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 was made a Fellow of the Royal College of Midwives in 2015. Sheena actively lobbies for maternity service improvements through several social media channels. Sheena is currently a midwife consultant, and lectures nationally and internationally on midwifery and childbirth related topics. Her personal and midwifery related website is sheenabyrom.com.


Professor Sally TracyProfessor Sally Tracy 

Sally Tracy is the Professor of Midwifery at the University of Sydney and conjoint Professor, School of Women's and Children's Health, Faculty of Medicine, UNSW. She leads the Midwifery and Women's Health Research Unit based at the Royal Hospital for Women. Her research projects funded by the NHMRC include the randomised controlled trial of caseload midwifery care, the M@NGO trial; the EMU study, evaluating midwifery led units in New Zealand and Australia; and more recently the amniotic fluid lactate study and the Birth on Country partnership grant with the University of Queensland.


Professor Sue Kildea Image

Professor Sue Kildea

Sue Kildea holds a clinical chair in midwifery and is a joint appointment between the Mater Health Services Brisbane and the University of Queensland. She has clinical, management, policy, education and research experience across both acute and primary health care settings. Sue is a strong collaborative researcher and many of her research projects aim to make a difference to the lives of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families. Together with a Senior Elder from Maningrida in Arnhem Land she was a joint recipient of the UTS Human Rights Award for contribution to advancing reconciliation between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians (2004). Sue is a strong proponent of normal birth and returning birth to the rural, remote and primary care setting. 


 Image Andrew BisitsAndrew Bisits

Andrew Bisits has been in full time obstetrics since 1984. Andrew is currently the medical co director of maternity services at the Royal Hospital for Women in Randwick Sydney a tertiary maternity service where 4100 babies are born each year.He did his training in Newcastle, NSW , Australia and worked there for 23 years . During that time he developed a strong interest in models of maternity care that supported normal birth , hence the focus on midwifery teams, primary midwifery and midwifery group practices. He has had a clinical,research and didactic interest in any area of obstetrics which minimises interventions and maximises the possibility of a safe and normal birth. Since the planning of the term breech trial he has looked at various ways of maintaining the capacity to offer vaginal breech birth where appropriate. A large part of this has involved looking at ways to increase the possibility of physiological breech birth. Andrew has research interests in statistics particularly the area of formal causal inference using observational data. He is a keen teacher .


Bashi Hazard SpeakerBashi Hazard

Bashi Hazard is an Australian lawyer and the principal of B W Law, a legal practice directed at assisting women and children in Australia, and Board Director of Human Rights in Childbirth (HRiC). Bashi has represented families and individuals in coronial inquests, statutory investigations and in commercial litigation. She has also worked on healthcare policy and human rights based fact-finding reports both in Australia and internationally.

Bashi's background is in competition and consumer law, developed while working for several years with Allens in Sydney, immediately after graduating with first class honours in Law and Economics from the University of Sydney. Bashi has written and spoken on issues relating to competition and trade practices law, legal professional privilege, the human and constitutional rights of free speech, and women and reproductive rights, particularly in relation the human right to bodily integrity and informed consent.

Bashi is mother to 3 amazing young children, teaches ethics to primary school aged children and grows orchids. 


Leona McGrathLeona McGrath

Leona McGrath is a very proud Aboriginal woman from Queensland, a proud descendent of the Woopaburra and Ku Ku Yalanji peoples. Leona is a midwife, artist, mother to three beautiful children and one gorgeous grandson. She is the Senior Advisor for the NSW Aboriginal Nursing & Midwifery Strategy.  The Strategy provides financial support to Aboriginal people to undertake nursing & midwifery degrees.

Leona is the Chair of the Australian College of Midwives Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Advisory Committee and also the co-Chair of the Rhodanthe Lipsett Indigenous Charitable Midwifery Trust Fund. Leona's passion lies with increasing the Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Midwifery workforce which will contribute to better health outcomes for Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander women, babies and the overall community.