Shawn Walker – Midwife, mother, lecturer and researcher. I feel passionately about the fruitfulness of combining clinical practice and academic pursuits.
Clinically, I have worked in all midwifery settings: home births, freestanding and co-located midwifery-led units, consultant-led labour wards, in the UK and during my training in the US, but the bulk of my experience is with physiological birth. I currently work on the bank in an NHS hospital while I am completing my PhD.
I developed an interest in breech when women approached me as an independent midwife, and I strongly believed that these women should be able to access supportive midwifery care, in collaboration with the multi-disciplinary team, in hospital settings, if that was their preference. Gradually, while listening closely to what women wanted from their breech care, and with involvement from the Norfolk & Norwich Maternity Services Liaison Committee, I developed the Heads Up care pathway and the role of Breech Specialist Midwife in an NHS breech clinic. In this role, I observed that with honest but non-biased counselling, non-judgemental support, and continuity of midwifery care, more women chose to attempt both external cephalic version (ECV) and vaginal breech birth (VBB).
On the research front, I have conducted funded research into core competencies for practitioners of external cephalic version (ECV), to enable a recognised training pathway for midwives. My current PhD research concerns the development of competence and expertise in upright breech birth. Although I have hands-on experience of attending planned upright vaginal breech births in NHS labour wards, my area of expertise is in clinical translation, eg. understanding the fine detail of skills that experts use to achieve good outcomes, and enabling more novice practitioners to acquire these skills. I do this by providing study days for NHS hospitals, and by accompanying other practitioners to planned breech births. I have also worked as a Midwifery Lecturer at City University London, and am an Associate Fellow of the Higher Education Academy.
I am also a mother to four sons, all born head-down at home. We live in Norwich, and when I am not attending births, doing research, reading or writing, I enjoy knitting, sewing, drinking coffee and my reflection time on the train to London.