This panel is facilitated by ACM President Joanne Gray and features panellists Hazel Keedle, Fran Velnaar, Sharna Hoffman and Kristy Smith.
Hazel Keedle, PhD, is a Lecturer of Midwifery at Western Sydney University. Hazel has more than two decades of experience as a clinician in nursing and midwifery, educator and researcher. Hazel’s research interests are vaginal birth after caesarean, birth trauma and maternity experiences explored primarily using feminist mixed methodologies. Hazel's work is recognised nationally and internationally, with more than50 conference and seminar presentations including 15 as an invited speaker. Hazel has a developing publication track record as an early career researcher, with 15 peer reviewed publications and a best selling book for women based on her PhD findings, Birth after Caesarean, your journey to a better birth.
Fran Velnaar is a 26 year old mother of two beautiful boys aged 3 and just coming up on 3 months who lives in regional Victoria with her partner, bonus daughter and kelpie. Fran, when not on maternity leave, is a registered paramedic who practices within her local community, with most of her experience with birth being work related up until she fell pregnant with her eldest in 2019. In December of 2019 Fran birthed her eldest son in a traumatic "crash" caesarean following a highly medicalised labour and failed rotational forceps delivery which left her son with a depressed skull fracture and Fran with PTS and PPD. In early 2022 Fran fell pregnant again and chose to have her care provided by an endorsed private midwife and opted to homebirth. While this birth also didn't go to plan, it was an overall healing experience, which both Fran and her partner credit to special relationship they built with their private midwife and her support throughout the experience and the response and compassionate care of the midwives and obstetricians when she transferred into her local hospital. Fran strongly believes the journey to VBAC is just as important as the destination and that even for those who don't achieve that goal, feeling empowered while the birth is going "wrong" is the difference between long term birth trauma and manageable grieving over the loss of a vaginal birth.
I’m Sharna Hoffman, I have 3 children and live in regional South Australia. I have had 2 VBAC’s after my first baby was born at 32+6 weeks via emergency c-section for severe preeclampsia. My first VBAC was a positive experience however didn’t go as I had expected it would. I learned a lot from this experience and made different decisions and preparations for my second VBAC. This second VBAC was the amazing, empowering, drug free experience I had always envisioned birth could be.
Kristy Smith is a Mum of 3 girls, a nurse, a midwife and currently works for NSW Ambulance Coordinating flights for NSW, supporting rural and regional women and their families to get to tertiary care when it’s needed. Personally she has experienced all types of care from Caseload Midwifery, Private Midwifery and Private Obstetric Care. She has attempted a VBAC and a VBA2C and is passionate about women's rights to informed choice, access to continuity of care as well as birthing in their preferred location.