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Speaker Biography

Helen Shallow

 Helen Shallow
Helen trained as a midwife in Edinburgh in 1987. Her last post in Scotland was in the community in East Lothian1992. She has worked in all areas of midwifery practice and in a variety of different settings including practicing midwifery in Botswana. She became a Supervisor in 2003, a year after her appointment as consultant midwife in 2002.

As her career developed and through her own research, Helen openly promotes normal birth and supports midwives to protect and safeguard normal midwifery practice. At the same time she believes that birth outcome is secondary to women coming through labour and birth with their dignity and spirit intact, irrespective of what path their journey takes. It has long been her belief that professionals and the public alike assume that normal birth just happens, whereas she contends it takes the skill, knowledge and hard work of the midwife and mother working in true partnership to ensure optimal outcomes.

As a consultant midwife Helen has developed expertise in supporting women whose choices don't fit those preferred by the organisation. This is a particularly challenging area where Helen believes the consultant role and supervision are central to enabling real informed choice for women. Helen now holds a joint post, that of Consultant Midwife and Head of Midwifery in a Trust that supports two birth centres, one freestanding and one co-located.

She was the lead in setting up the Huddersfield Family Birth Centre and had prior experience of developing a birth centre service specification and final report with recommendations for the Wakefield Health Authority in 2000. She is now in a key position to bring the skills and knowledge form birth centres back to the labour ward and finds increasingly that staff are processing women rather than being with women. Maidwives face unparallelled challenges at a time of financial constraint increased activity and ever shorter lengths of stay.


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