'Normalising childbirth through authentic collaboration': the international evidence.

Author:Duff, Elizabeth
 
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The new mission of the International Confederation of Midwives (ICM) includes reference to the midwife's responsibility in promoting normal birth, and clearly this encompasses research around normal birth to ensure a strong evidence base for the practice. The availability of such research was robustly demonstrated at the 4th Research Conference on Normal Labour and Birth, held at the attractive venue of Grange-over-Sands in the UK's Lake District.

The American College of Nurse Midwives, the Canadian Midwives Association, the Midwives Alliance of North America and the Royal College of Midwives (RCM) of the UK--all ICM members--were associate hosts with the University of Central Lancashire's Research in Childbirth & Health (ReaCH) group. This popular event attracted participants from Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, Egypt, Germany, Ireland, Japan, Lebanon, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Nigeria, Norway, Sweden, Taiwan, the UK and USA.

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Cathy Warwick, General Secretary of the RCM, greeted delegates and welcomed the theme of collaboration and partnership--'together we are strong', she asserted. Cathy then introduced Hannah Dahlen of the Australian College of Midwives, and the University of Sydney, who gave the first keynote address.

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Hannah asked, are we 'undone by fear?' or 'deluded by trust?' and explored these concepts in a rollercoaster presentation that was moving, humorous and inspiring. She kept faith with 'audience expectations of any Australian speaker' by introducing sharks (the object of more fear than anything else, ever) and kangaroos (to be avoided on a road-trip undertaken as an alternative to safer but fear-ridden flying). She iterated that the worst fear is often of fear itself, and cited De Becker's view that 'worry will buckle under vigorous interrogation'. However, fear should not be denied as it can tell you something useful; Darwin noted that the most fearful may be those who survive. She closed with the comment that courage is not the absence of fear but the triumph...

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