University of Worcester Hosts Prestigious Midwifery Conference

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Midwives and health leaders from across England converged on the University of Worcester earlier this month for the 6th Annual Birth Conference.

The University, which is rated the best in Britain for nursing and midwifery teaching according to the latest National Student Survey, has a long-standing commitment to contributing to the best and safest birth environments for women.

The conference - titled ‘Midwife led units: Simply the Best?’ - debated whether midwife-led units represent the best opportunity for women to have a straight-forward, normal birth and for midwives to be truly effective, independent practitioners.

The conference was chaired by the University of Worcester’s Professor Mary Nolan.

Professor Nolan, who is the country’s first Professor of Perinatal Education, said: “Large scientific studies have conclusively shown that midwife-led units are the safest place for women who are at low-risk of complications during labour to give birth.

“The Government has pledged to give women the right to choose where they give birth. For women who do not want interventions during their labour – and for midwives who want to use the full range of their skills – midwife-led units provide the ideal environment for birth.”

Sarah Snow, Senior Lecturer and Lead Midwife at the University says that the realisation of such a unit in Worcestershire is not far away.

She explains: “A working party has been established between the Worcestershire Acute Hospital Trust, the University of Worcester, student midwives and service-users to help establish at least one midwife-led unit in the county in the near future.”

Professor Nolan believes that the feedback received from the conference - which was attended by well over 100 delegates, including heads of midwifery from around the country, practising midwives and student midwives –demonstrates the very strong desire in the profession to ensure that first class midwife led units are created throughout the UK.

“The feedback we received was excellent,” she says. “Every year, we strive to make the conference as friendly and supportive as possible, so that delegates can get to know each other and share ideas for best practice.”

“Women like midwife-led units because they are intimate, friendly, low-tech and give them the best opportunity to have a straightforward normal birth without unnecessary intervention. Midwives like midwife-led units because they enable them to support women throughout labour and tailor care to the woman’s individual preferences.”

She adds: “There is much for both women and midwives to gain from having a midwife-led unit in Worcestershire. Women at low-risk of complications during labour can choose a birth environment which maximises their chance of having a straightforward normal birth, and midwives have the opportunity to provide the one-to-one care that they feel every woman deserves.”

Picture shows, from left to right: Sarah Snow, Patti Paine (Head of Midwifery and Gynaecology, Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust), Professor Mary Nolan, Professor David Green (University of Worcester Vice Chancellor and Chief Executive), Ethel Burns (Senior Midwifery Lecturer, Oxford Brookes University), Cathy Atherton (Head of Midwifery, Liverpool Women's Hospital) and Kate Taylor (Senior Lecturer, University of Worcester).