Normal Labor and Birth Research Conference 2018

Annual international normal labor and birth research conference

University of Michigan School of Nursing was proud to host the annual International Normal Labor and Birth Research Conference in 2018, on June 25-27, 2018 at the School of Nursing Building, 426 N. Ingalls, Ann Arbor, MI.

The 2019 Normal Labor and Birth Conference will take place on June 17-19, 2019, at the Grange Hotel, Grange Over Sands, Cumbria, United Kingdom.

Abstract submissions for the 2019 conference will be forthcoming in late fall 2018. 

Highlights from the 2018 conference

Thank you to Sheena Byrom, midwife and social media manager for the Normal Birth Conference, for putting this video together. 


Registration information

Please register.

Student rate: $300.

Regular rate: $550.

Please register online by June 23. If you have not registered by that time, you can register on-site June 24-26.

On-site registration: $575 

Conference registration includes lunch. 

Ticket for Tuesday night dinner event can be purchased along with registration for $60.

If you cannot attend the entire conference, you are welcome to register for one day ($200) or for two days ($350).

Plenary speakers

Melissa Cheney


Dr. Melissa Cheyney, Oregon State University, and Thomas Peppard from the HBGDki project: Use of Big Data to Understand Normal Physiologic Birth Outcomes



Raymond De Vries


Dr. Raymond De Vries, University of Michigan: A sociologist walks onto a maternity care unit: Differing perspectives on maternity care




Neel Shah


Dr. Neel Shah, Harvard Medical School: Designing Systems to improve care for every mother, everywhere





Soo Downe


Professor Soo Downe, University of Central Lancashire: WHO new guidelines for intrapartum care




Franka Cadee


Franka Cadee, ICM President: The global contributions of midwifery




Saras Vedam


Saraswathi Vedam, University of British Columbia: Respectful Maternity Care: Measuring, Defining and Evaluating



Holly Kennedy


Holly Kennedy, Yale University: Asking different questions: Acting upon research priorities to improve the quality of care for every woman, every child 



Christine Morton


Christine Morton, Stanford University: Managing the space between critical safety check lists and individualized care to support healthy physiological childbirth.




Gene Declercq


Gene Declercq, Boston University School of Public Health: Moderating panel: What do the numbers tell us? The good, the bad, the complicated, and the challenging. 




Jennie Joseph, Executive Director, Commonsense Childbirth, Inc: Let's ignite respectful, evidence-based maternity care everywhere for every woman!





Robbie Davis-Floyd, University of Texas-Austin and Fellow of the Society for Applied Anthropology: Launching the International Childbirth Initiative (ICI): Twelve steps to Mother-Baby-Family Maternity Care: A joint FIGO-IMBCO project




Leseliey Welch, Director, Birth Project USA, Ann Arbor, Michigan


Poster session

Poster session will be held on Monday, June 25. 

Poster will be displayed on boards that are 4 feet by 6 feet in size. Actual posters should be 3 feet (36 inches) by 5 feet (60 inches), and should not exceed the size of the board.  Boards will be numbered for placement of your poster.  Push pins will be available.  

If you have any questions please email for more information.

Conference schedule

See the schedule of events for a complete schedule for the conference.

Reimagining the birth environment: A global birth environment design network

June 28, 9:30-11:00 a.m.

Join an international interdisciplinary group that is reimagining the birth environment. Our interest is the birthing room, the birth unit or centre as a birthing-women-centered space/place that also provides affordances for those who provide birth support and care. The group is composed of scholars and practitioners from diverse disciplines who have noted that the birth environment matters and that it has significant impact on the birthing mind/body and how birth happens.

We will convene to discuss a collaborative international focus on the birth environment. Our intent is to create an individual and collective research focus on redevelopment of the birth environment that is a highly visible, resource-infused and potent initiative that spans the globe.We will have an online presence so that interested participants can join us from all parts of the world.

Conveners Doreen Balabanoff, Ph.D. and J. Davis Harte, Ph.D. are architectural researchers, educators and designers whose work has focused on developing new understanding for birth environment design. 

If you are interesting in attending please email both of us at: and

A mailing list for further information about this meeting and about future collaborative ventures will be developed.

Doreen Balabanoff

Professor, Environmental Design, OCAD University, Toronto.

Dr. Balabanoff is an artist/designer/educator with expertise and research focus on color/light in architectural space, architectural glass, experiential aspects of architecture, birth environment. She has a keen interest in phenomenological aspects of architectural space-form-time (sensory, emotive, perceptually driven) as related to embodied, sensitive consciousness and psychophysiological affect/effect on the human body. She received her doctorate from University College Dublin School of Architecture.

J. Davis Harte

Dr. Harte is a wellness design educator at The Boston Architectural College bridging evidence and practice with work in children’s places, trauma-informed spaces and also in birth environments. Recent research was a video-ethnographic exploration of the experiences of childbirth supporters as influenced by birth unit design. She is immersed in attention restoration theory, salutogenic design, symbolic interactionism, neuroscience and all things environment-behavior, especially for traumatized and populations typically considered vulnerable. She received her Ph.D. in Health (design focus) from the University of Technology Sydney and an MSc in Design & Human Environment (Interiors) from Oregon State University, with minors in free-choice learning and in human development and family sciences.

Visitor Information, lodging, and parking

International Normal Labour and Birth Research Conference will be held at the School of Nursing, located at 426 N. Ingalls Street, Ann Arbor, MI 48109.

Ann Arbor is a vibrant small city with a lot of activity. Conference participants are responsible for their own travel and lodging arrangements. Below are helpful links as you make your plans.

Air travel

The closest airport to Ann Arbor is Detroit-Metro Airport



Hosted by the University of Michigan School of Nursing and the American College of Nurse-Midwives