Standing with women and speaking on the day:
Susan Bewley is a doctor who worked as an obstetrician for nearly 30 years, and now works in a Sexual Assault Referral Centre. She was the first woman trained in high risk Maternal-Fetal Medicine in the UK and her research has centred on severe maternal morbidity, and domestic violence in pregnancy. Despite her medical training and her own mother nearly dying of haemorrhage in childbirth, Susan opted for an ‘evidence-based’ birth and the privacy of home. Latterly, she chaired the NICE 2014 Intrapartum Care Update and continues to chair a Standing Committee. She was involved both in the WHO global study of the Values and Preferences of Women living with HIV with respect to Sexual and Reproductive Health and Human Rights, and subsequent guideline. She is honorary Professor of Womens Health at Kings College London. Her latest book, the ABC of Domestic and Sexual Violence here, is designed to skill up clinicians to create safe spaces to listen to women’s voices.
Elizabeth is a barrister specialising in public and human rights law with a particular interest and expertise in women’s rights relating to pregnancy and childbirth. She regularly advises women and health professionals in this area and has lectured on childbirth rights around the world, working with lawyers and campaigners to promote women’s dignity and autonomy. She chairs Birthrights, a charity which advises women and health professionals on human rights principles in maternity care.
Prof. Cecily Begley, Chair of Nursing and Midwifery, Trinity College Dublin, Ireland.
Prof Begley, a registered midwife, mother of three and grand-mother of one, has led many research teams to successful completion. Her main research interests are in promoting normality in childbirth and encouraging women-centred maternity care. She has published over 160 peer-reviewed papers, is Section Editor for the BMC Pregnancy and Childbirth journal, and Visiting Professor at the University of Gothenburg, Sweden.
Prof Begley recently completed an FP7-funded cluster randomised trial on increasing vaginal birth after caesarean section (VBAC) in Europe (OptiBIRTH). At present she co-ordinates (with Mike Clarke and Deirdre Daly) the MAMMI study (Maternal health And Maternal Morbidity in Ireland), a national study of problems faced by 3,000 first-time mothers in pregnancy and up to one year post-natal. She also leads the REDUCE study, a pilot and feasibility trial designed to reduce caesarean section in Ireland.
Sheena Byrom OBE, RM, MA, HFRCM, Ed D honoris causa
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 head of midwifery successfully helped to lead the development of three birth centres in East Lancashire. As well as being an international speaker, Sheena provides consultancy services to both NHS Trusts and to organisations globally; helping and supporting them to develop midwifery-led services. Sheena is involved in several charities related to midwifery, and is one of the project leads of the Midwifery Unit Network, which supports midwifery led units (birth centres) both online, and face-to-face. Sheena is working on a new initiative with Anna Byrom, her midwife daughter, to support midwifery in the UK, and around the world.
Sheena’s passion to continue practising centres on promoting normal physiological childbirth, and a positive childbirth experience for all women. The global onslaught of medical technology as a means to improve safety continues to influence childbearing women’s physiology and autonomy, and her work to reverse the trend is ongoing.
Sheena’s midwifery memoirs, Catching Babies, is a Sunday Times bestseller, and her seminal book, The Roar Behind the Silence: why kindness, compassion and respect matter in maternity care jointly edited with Soo Downe, is being used as a resource to improve maternity care throughout the world. Sheena and Soo are currently editing a second book, ‘Squaring the Circle: researching normal childbirth in a technological world’, which they hope will be published in 2017.
Sheena was awarded an OBE in 2011 for services to midwifery, and was made an Honorary Fellow of the Royal College of Midwives in 2015. In 2016, Sheena received and Honorary Doctorate from Bournemouth University. Her personal and midwifery related website is sheenabyrom.com.
Milli Hill, Founder of the Positive Birth Movement
Milli Hill is a freelance writer, feminist, former dramatherapist, trainee doula and self-professed birth junkie. She is the founder of the Positive Birth Movement and her book, The Positive Birth Book: A New Approach to Pregnancy, Birth and the Early Weeks, was published in March 2017 by Pinter and Martin and is a bestseller. Milli lives in Somerset
Catherine Williams – Chair
Catherine is an experienced service user representative. She first joined an Maternity Voices Partnership (‘MVP’ – then an ‘MSLC’) as a service user member, with her second baby, in 2004 – working with commissioners, other service users, midwives, and doctors to monitor and improve services. A microbiology graduate, she was a Law Society policy adviser from 2007-2010. She chaired Reading Maternity Voices (MVP) for 3 years until 2015 & remains an active member.
Her work with MSLCs has included initiating and developing community outreach (including using social media) & involving women in service co-design. She has designed/led multidisciplinary training on service user involvement, and about NICE recommendations, in maternity settings. She currently works for a local Healthwatch, the statutory ‘consumer champion’ for health and social care, on patient and public involvement.
Catherine was a Lay Member for NICE CG190 Intrapartum Care – care of healthy women and their babies during childbirth (2014). She has been an LSA auditor & is a RCOG Lay Co-assessor. She serves on a number of maternity working groups including: NHS Berkshire West Maternity Steering Group; NCT Research Advisory Group; and, as Vice Chair, UKmidSS Steering Group (NPEU). She qualified as an NCT Antenatal Practitioner in 2012. Catherine tweets about evidence and maternity matters as @BerksMaternity & blogs at https://birthandbiology.wordpress.com/.
In December 2016 Catherine convened National Maternity Voices, a group of MVP service user chairs and reps within an existing UK forum, and is a founding committee member of the group.
Catherine was appointed to a NICE Fellowship on 1st April 2016 for three years. As a Fellow, she aims to promote wider understanding of the value of NICE process, and the need for lay people and clinicians alike to be involved, whether as committee members or as stakeholders. She also has a strong interest in understanding & supporting evidence informed decision making by service users.
More speakers to be announced soon.