Service users’ influence in maternity services – Sydney Normal Labour and Birth Conference, October 2016


I met so many great people at the Sydney conference. A mix of new contacts and researchers and midwives from Australia, New Zealand, North America, Sweden, Norway, India, Singapore, the Netherlands and the UK.

Sheena Byrom and I ran a workshop to introduce Midwifery Unit Network. A small group of midwives and a childbirth educator are going to set up Midwifery Unit Network Australia with the support of the Australian Midwives Association.

I gave a presentation about service user involvement in maternity services in the UK and about voluntary services. Here is my presentation, given 12 October 2016:


Following the keynote address by Professor Eugene Declecq, I now proudly consider myself a ‘persistent maternity activist’. Many others have been around a while working for change in maternity services. Persistence and activism both matter!

For those interested to learn more about the conference, the Twitter hashtag is  #normalbirth16. The Abstract booklet is also now available at:

Conference delegates were encouraged to knit squares for blankets  at the Yarning table. I got started on Day 1 and knitted a couple. Hundreds were produced in total.

There was a positive focus at the conference on honouring the Aboriginal and Torres Straight Islanders’ elders past and present. We learned about and were asked to support the New South Wales Aboriginal Nursing and Midwifery Strategy which supports Aboriginal people to undertake midwifery degrees.

4 thoughts on “Service users’ influence in maternity services – Sydney Normal Labour and Birth Conference, October 2016

    1. Hi Evita, It was good to meet up and talk with you in Sydney. If you have any service user organisations or aspiring activists, please put us in touch. We will provide encouragement, support and ideas. I have read the infosheet, Birth in India, with great interest, and enjoyed Reba Daniel’s blog on the same (Birth India) website. Good luck and keep in touch! Mary


  1. Hi Mary,

    Sounds like a wonderful conference, thanks for sending your presentation. Funny to see that so many of the initiatives that I learnt about at the Women’s Voices conference are mentioned in your speech as well! I am really amazed at how many (great) initiatives you have in the UK!

    I think I told you before we will be organising a conference here as well? We would love to invite you or one of your colleagues to come over to talk to us about your experiences. I am very much inspired by the Women’s Voices conference to have women talk throughout the day, At the same time I very much want to have a mixed audience – not only women and midwives but obstetricians as well. So we are trying to have a programme that will seduce them into coming as well :). The conference will be organised jointly by us and the department of Midwifery Science of the University of Amsterdam. The focus will be on client participation in research, and the date will be 9 or 10 March.

    It would be very nice if you or one of your colleagues at NCT could attend and speak! Any suggestions on the programme are welcome as well. Hope to hear from you,

    Kind regards,


    Met vriendelijke groet,

    Rachel Verweij | Geboortebeweging

    Werkgroep cliëntenparticipatie

    T 06-34355660



    LET OP: dit adres vervangt het oude e-mail adres Graag aanpassen in uw administratie. Het oude adres zal op termijn verdwijnen.


    1. Hi Rachel, I have replied separately by email. It’s great that you are planning a conference for March next year. Getting people together face to face is often really inspiring. I had a good (short) chat with Ank while in Sydney. Mary


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s