About the Team

Claire Reading, Emma Spillane and Shawn Walker

Shawn Walker RM PhD – Midwife, mother, lecturer and researcher. Director of Breech Birth Network, Community Interest Company. 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 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). I then chose to pursue a PhD, focusing on Competency and Expertise in Physiological Breech Birth, to strengthen the research base guiding the re-development of breech skills in contemporary maternity services.

Do we have to be pregnant to get Mum’s attention?

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 am also a mother to four sons, all born head-down at home. We live in Norwich, and when I am not teaching, attending births, doing research, reading or writing, I enjoy knitting, sewing, drinking coffee and my reflection time on the train to London.


Emma Spillane

Emma Spillane – Midwife, passionate about physiological birth, enhancing physiology, supporting maternal choice, advocacy for women and breech birth.  Currently completing my Masters in Advanced Midwifery Practice.  Training co-ordinator for the Breech Birth Network, Community Interest Company.  Qualifying six years ago, I have gained experience in postnatal care, community, high risk antenatal care, co-ordinating delivery suite and most recently as the Lead Midwife for the Birth Centre at a large London teaching hospital.  Most of my experience is in physiological labour and birth and supporting maternal choice.

My interest in breech started as a student midwife in my third year where I observed a mother birth her breech baby standing, followed by my first breech birth as a newly qualified midwife on an antenatal ward one night shift.  Both these births made me question the recommendations given to mothers to have a caesarean section and ignited a belief that all women should be fully informed of all their options and given a choice of their mode of birth.  In January 2017 I attended the Physiological Breech Birth Study Day in Norwich. Following the day I went and spoke with Shawn and told her of my interest in Physiological Breech Birth. I left knowing I had to change something in my trust, women needed to know they had a choice and breech birth was possible.  I am currently leading on a breech birth pathway within my trust, I consult with women found to have a breech presentation to counsel them in their choices, I attend breech births either to facilitate the births or support colleagues to gain breech birth experience and I teach Physiological Breech Birth with the Breech Birth Network. Read more here.

I am also a mother to three energetic children.  We live in Surrey and enjoy numerous activities outside of my work life such as running, cycling, bouldering and swimming.

One thought on “About the Team

  1. Pingback: Midwifery responses to the Kirkup report | Only for the heartstrong

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