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UCLan professor takes midwifery expertise to Canada

23 March 2015

Lyndsey Boardman

Professor Downe shares important research on normal childbirth

A University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) midwifery professor has brought her expertise on normal childbirth to a Canadian University after being appointed as the first ever international visiting scholar for a new endowed scholarship programme, the Elaine Carty Scholarship programme.

Professor Soo Downe was invited to the University of British Columbia (UBC) to share her extensive research into childbirth trends and promote research into the nature and consequences of normal birth, with minimal medical or technological intervention. As the first visiting scholar in this field, Soo visited hospitals in Vancouver as well as sharing her research within the University, and in a public lecture.

Soo, who was a midwife for 15 years before entering higher education, promotes research into “normal birth”; delivery with minimal medical or technological intervention, such as Caesarean sections, labour induction, anaesthesia, episiotomies and antibiotics. She asserts that the evidence supports more births at home, or in midwife led units out of hospital, for healthy women and babies.

Soo said: “Getting childbirth right is profoundly important for the wellbeing of families, and for future generations. While I have always believed that birth with no or minimal intervention is ideal if mother and baby are healthy, recent exciting evidence from epigenetics seems to suggest that there is biological evidence for the impact of what happens during labour and birth on the way genes might be expressed for the child, in infancy and in adulthood, and then for their own children in the future.”

“Getting childbirth right is profoundly important for the wellbeing of families, and for future generations.”

The Director of Midwifery at UBC Michelle Butler commented: “We have invited Soo be our first visiting scholar to raise the discussion in British Columbia about how we support women to birth, and how the care that we provide impacts on women, their families and future generations.

“We hope that her visit and insights into normalising birth stimulated debate, encouraged practitioners, researchers and students in British Columbia to reflect on how the work that they do impacts on birth outcomes, and acts as a catalyst to collaborative research around normal birth.”

Soo’s visit was part of the UBC Elaine Carty Visiting Scholars Initiative which brings established international clinicians or researchers to the University to meet and work with faculty, students, alumni and community partners. Soo joined UCLan in 2001 when she set up the Midwifery Studies Research Unit. She now leads the Research in Childbirth and Health group at the University.

Soo is the co-editor of a new book: The Roar Behind the Silence: Why kindness, compassion and respect matter in maternity care, which in its first week of sale sold 1,000 copies. It is now number one on the Amazon Family and Lifestyle Gynaecology and Obstetrics best seller list. compassion/dp/1780661800/ref=zg_bs_270871_1