The Birth Summit

Summary of Live Q&A from The Birth Summit

Hannah Dahlen, Professor of Midwifery

GUEST: Hannah Dahlen

JOB TITLE: Professor of Midwifery, Western Sydney University

DATE/TIME: 1st October (12pm UK time)

PLATFORM: Twitter Discussion using hashtag #BirthSummit Follow @birthsummit

GUEST TWITTER NAME: @hannahdahlen

N.B. As Twitter involves tweeting, retweeting, replying in sometimes multiple threads all happening simultaneously, please consider the following our best effort to put all the Tweets in some sort of topic order, not necessarily in chronological order. Aside from Philip Steer and ourselves (posting as Birth Summit), we have removed the names of all other contributors. I have included images posted during the discussion for limited educational purposes to summarise this discussion following “Fair Use” guidelines. These images are not to be reproduced without obtaining necessary permissions. If you do want to read the original discussion in time-order and to see who posted which Tweet, search on Twitter for hashtag #BirthSummit

Q: Would you like to introduce yourself and your area of research?
Hannah Dahlen: “Midwife, professor, activist, researcher into ways to optimize physiology & make motherhood powerful not traumatic”

Q: What do you think is the most pressing challenge facing midwives today?
Hannah Dahlen: “Getting normal to be understood as extraordinary & valuable technology has become revered when physiology should be more so”
Hannah Dahlen: “We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking that created them” -Albert Einstein. We need to think differently”

Q: How would you think / act different?
Hannah Dahlen: “We need to think impossible thoughts & these need to be based on possible observations and pursued with rigour and patience”
Hannah Dahlen: “Despite all the normal birth activism intervention in childbirth continues to rise. What should we do?”
Hannah Dahlen: We are obsessed with short term outcomes. Few look longterm at the downstream implications of what we do to women and babies
Hannah Dahlen: “We all need to talk and think and respect each other and have hope and unity for a better future”
Hannah Dahlen: “Perhaps the end (birth) is just the beginning. Have we run a 100 year experiment in birth. How will out guardianship be seen?”
Hannah Dahlen: “Almost no studies have focused on the nature of and impact of physiological birthing in well women and babies”
Hannah Dahlen: “100 years ago Kendal1 recognised bacteria during birth and following was important. What have we done in the past 100 years?”

Hannah Dahlen: “Is the day of birth the most dangerous or most defining? We focus on the danger not defining nature of birth. Both important”
Hannah Dahlen: “In 10 developed countries in the world despite five fold increase in caesarean section the incidence of cerebral palsy steady”

Hannah Dahlen: “Intervene in birth when you need to not when you don’t. We need to understand the longterm implications before it is too late”

Hannah Dahlen: Tthe way a woman gives birth can affect the rest of her life & that of her baby & her grandchildren” (Beech&Phipps 2004)”
Hannah Dahlen “The day of birth may turn out to be one of life’s most defining events”

Q: Where is the peer reviewed evidence relating to epigenetics? Can you reference please.
Hannah Dahlen: “The EPIIC Hypothesis that we published says “What is good for the mother is good for the baby”
HannahDahlen: “Surely labour is much too short to have an epigenetic influence? (indeed, the shorter the better!!)”
HannahDahlen: “The emerging science of epigenetics has not focused on the impact of childbirth as everyone has thought it too short a time.
Q: Do you believe syntocinon use is affecting normal production of oxytocin epigenetically?
Commenter: “I wonder though if it’s actually changing women’s ability to produce oxytocin and therefore birth normally”
Hannah Dahlen: I think there are great concerns there with brain development and epigenetic changes. Could even be leading to more PPH today
Commenter: “Agreed. I wonder though if it’s actually changing women’s ability to produce oxytocin and therefore birth normally”
Hannah Dahlen: Could be but so much we don’t know. Lots on this at #NormalBirth16 starting next week in Sydney
Q: Normal birth ‘activism’ has caused vast harm – eg Morecambe Bay…
Hannah Dahlen: “system failures not activism cause disasters”
Q: What one change would you make to maternity practices tomorrow?
Hannah Dahlen: “I think the answer to all this is to optimise physiology during pregnancy, labour and birth and beyond “
Hannah Dahlen: “Relationship based care. That will make care respectful and safe. The brain is the largest organ involved in childbirth”

Comments by Others on Twitter using #BirthSummit:

Q: “as sterility in homes/hospitals degrades microbiome, can it potentially increase harmful superbugs?”
Q: What could be done to introduce microbiome friendly surgery etc without increasing risk of harm?
Birth Summit answer: “We actually filmed ‘microbiome-friendly’ surgery in US – amazing stuff. Will be in a future summit!”
Commenter: “WOW! I asked it as hypothetical/wonder if this could even exist! Look forward to learning more!”
Commenter: “Vaginal seeding and fear of women’s bodily fluids, irony that we value the sterile but miss the physiological “magic””
Commenter: “We need to develop new &clever scientific methods. As we face the challenges we will develop these. I have faith &hope in humanity”
Commenter: “Absolutely love and respect – changes birth”

BIrthSummit: End of LIVE Q&A.Thanks so much Prof of #Midwifery @hannahdahlen To see Hannah in videos
Hannah Dahlen: “Thanks Toni and all for a wonderful chat. We don’t have all the answers but we need to pursue the ones that show us the way”

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