Understanding Birth Better
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Betty-Anne Daviss, RM, MA, is a registered midwife at the Montfort Hospital and the Ottawa Hospital and an Adjunct Professor in Women’s Studies at Carleton University, Ottawa, Canada. She has been a midwife for more than 40 years and is a researcher in both the social sciences and clinical epidemiology. Publications in medical journals have centred on postpartum haemorrhage, home birth, and vaginal breech birth.

Hired by FIGO in 2004-5 as project manager for their international Safe Motherhood Initiative, she left the post when the Canadian-led randomised controlled trial on breech changed its conclusions to “Planned cesarian section is not associated with a reduction in risk of death or neurodevelopmental delay in children at two years of age.” She then toured the major centres in Europe and Australia that continued to perform and research vaginal breeches.

In 2008, she began travelling back and forth from her midwifery practice in Ottawa to the Frankfurt Unit at the Goethe University Institute several times a year, becoming part of the Frankfurt team doing vaginal breeches in an upright position, helping them with their protocols, development of their database and articles on breech and twin deliveries. She is presently the only midwife in Canada (possibly in North America) who has privileges to do planned vaginal breeches in the hospital without transfer to obstetrics, but she wants to change that. She has done workshops and presentations on breech birth at obstetric units or conferences in Argentina, Australia, China, Czech Republic, Germany, Ireland, the Netherlands, Norway, and in the U.S. (in Denver, New York City, Portland, Oregon, Washington D.C.), and in Canada (in Calgary, Montreal, Ottawa, Toronto, Vancouver, and Winnipeg) and acted as the scientific coordinator for the last two international breech birth conferences in Ottawa, Canada, and Washington, DC. She has attended 150 planned vaginal breech births.


Kenneth C. Johnson, PhD, is a senior epidemiologist with the Public Health Agency of Canada. He has worked in chronic disease epidemiology for more than 30 years. His risk assessment work has focused on cancer risks related to passive smoking, chlorination by-products in drinking water, physical activity and diet. His most important work has been in helping to establish the link between smoking, secondhand smoke and breast cancer, most recently as the pen on the Canadian Expert Panel Report on Tobacco and Breast Cancer Risk(2009) summarized in the BMJ journal Tobacco Control (In press, June 2010). He holds adjunct professorships in epidemiology at the University of Ottawa and Queen’s University.

His interest in perinatal epidemiology has continued since he ran the Canadian birth defects registry in the late 1980s, and had a fellowship in 1991 at the National Perinatal Epidemiology Unit in Oxford England, original home of the Cochrane Collaboration. He has written on limitations of randomized controlled trials in perinatal research and is the Co PI of CPM2000 study of 5,418 planned home births published in the BMJ (see links on this website). Over the past four years he has been doing research to help bring back vaginal breech birth. He is co-author on (Daviss, BA, Johnson, KC, Lalonde A. Evolving Evidence Since the Term Breech Trial: Canadian Response, European Dissent, and Potential Solutions. J Obstet Gynaecol Can. 2010 Mar;32(3):217-24.) published in March 2010 in the Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology of Canada. The article clearly demonstrates that the weight of evidence does not support a policy of routine Cesarean Section for all breech births.


Paul Weston is an Internet applications developer from Ottawa, Canada. He has over 15 years of experience in application development, particularly in web-based service delivery. Prior to the advent of the Internet, he was an electronic bulletin boards specialist, developing custom dial-up systems for the public and private sector.

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