Maternity and Childbirth (OxMater)

Group Leader(s): Dr Ethel Burns

Contact: +44 (0)1865 485296

About us

The OxMater group engages in research to optimise health and wellbeing during maternity, childbearing, and beyond and in activities to promote the implementation of the best available research into maternity care provision.

The team aims to establish itself as a robust group producing work that will impact on maternity care provision whilst nurturing future researchers. 

Latest news

Group of midwives


Ethel Burns

Dr Ethel Burns

Senior Lecturer in Midwifery

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Name Role Email
Dr Jane Carpenter Programme Lead, Midwifery and Lead Midwife for Education
Mrs Sarah Fleming Senior Lecturer
Dr Louise Hunter Associate Lecturer
Dr Ginny Mounce Senior Lecturer


Name Thesis Title Supervisors Completed
Claire Litchfield Is the use of water immersion for women in labour or giving birth both safe and effective as a method for improving rates of normal birth for women who are obese? Dr Jane Carpenter, Dr Louise Hunter, Professor Mary Malone


Ms Rebecca Parker The experience of midwives during intrapartum emergencies in community settings Dr Ethel Burns, Dr Rachel Rowe, Professor Paul Carding



Name Role Organisation
Dr Cindy Farley Associate Professor Georgetown University
Dr Claire Feeley Lecturer King's College London
Dr Priscilla Hall Senior Instructor Nell Hodgson Woodruff School of Nursing, Emory University
Dr Reem Malouf Neurologist, Specialist in Internal Medicine National Perinatal Epidemiology Unit, Oxford
Dr Sue Pavord Consultant Haematologist, Associate Senior Lecturer in Medicine Oxford University Hospitals
Dr Charles Roehr Clinical Director National Perinatal Epidemiology Unit, Oxford
Dr Rachel Rowe Associate Professor and Senior Health Services Researcher National Perinatal Epidemiology Unit, Oxford
Professor Lesley Smith Professor of Women’s Public Health University of Hull
Dr Harriet Thorn-Cole Midwife Haute Ecole de Santé Vaud
Dr Jennifer Vanderlaan Assistant Professor University of Nevada


Active projects

Project title and description Investigator(s) Funder(s) Dates


An e-tool developed to improve the accuracy of visual blood loss estimations during waterbirth. The current project, started in November 2020, received Brookes funding to refine estiMATE and create a website in which it will be embedded for access by maternity services, universities and interested others as a CPD resource for clinicians.
Dr Ethel Burns Oxford Brookes University From: November 2020
Until: July 2021

Systematic review suite: Water immersion during labour and waterbirth

Review 1: Maternal and neonatal outcomes following water immersion during labour and birth: a systematic review and meta-analysis (in process). Review 2: Women’s views and experiences of labouring and/or giving birth in water (paper published January 2021). Review 3: A scoping review of caregiver’s views and experiences is in process.
Dr Ethel Burns, Dr Claire Feeley, Dr Jennifer Vanderlaan

Fertility and Assisted Reproduction

Collaborative work with Professor Helen Allan at Middlesex University around infertility, preconception and assisted reproduction. Currently developing a book for midwifery and nursing practice around transition to parenthood following IVF. Current joint PhD supervisor for a project on South Asian women's wellbeing after successful IVF.
Dr Ginny Mounce

Midwives’ perspectives of the impact of Covid-19 pandemic

Midwives’ perspectives of the impact of Covid-19 pandemic on their professional roles and/or ways of working: a qualitative study (UREC LO20213). While immediate responses to UK maternity care during the current coronavirus (Covid-19) outbreak have focused on avoidance of virus transmission, for example by social distancing measures, avoiding hospital settings and PPE, the purpose of this study is to investigate how midwives, in their professional jobs, have had to adapt the ways in which they give care and manage their relationships with their patients. We wish to ask midwives if they perceive any benefits to these new ways of working for maternity care in the future and how they consider Covid-19 will shape their practice (and the profession) of the future.
Dr Ginny Mounce

An exploration of the application and learning experiences of BAME midwifery students

A mixed-methods study that will explore experiences of BAME applicants to midwifery programmes in the South East of England at different points along their journey to registration.
Dr Louise Hunter HEE From: March 2021
Until: December 2021

Maternal obesity

This research has a particular focus on the care that women with obesity receive during the perinatal period. Research to date on obesity in childbirth has been focused mainly on public health interventions, or on risks to mother and neonate. Our focus is on how these women experience their care throughout pregnancy, birth and the postnatal period, including investigating ways to support normal birth and birth choices. A collaborative PhD studentship, co-supervised by Associate Professor Rachel Rowe from the National Perinatal Epidemiology Unit and undertaken by student Claire Litchfield, is investigating use of water immersion by women with raised BMI.
Dr Jane Carpenter

Completed projects

Project title and description Investigator(s) Funder(s) Dates

Management of Anaemia in Pregnancy

Working with Dr Sue Pavord, author of the British Society for Haematology guidelines on the management of anaemia in pregnancy, we have scoped the practices of midwives in the UK in relation to anaemia (paper in review). Our findings will inform the development of a resource for midwives, to help improve care.
Dr Jane Carpenter


The Midwifery team has been busy! This week a publication arising from our project exploring student recruitment experiences and the experiences of Global Ethnic Majority midwifery students'.

Carina Okiki, Giada Giusmin, Jane Carpenter, Louise Hunter (2023) Choosing Midwifery − The perceptions and experiences of Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic applicants to midwifery programmes: A mixed methods study. Nurse Education in Practice, Vol 69 103626,

And a toolkit arising from and influenced by our research that the RCM has produced

Research shows that labouring or giving birth in water provides clear benefits for healthy mothers and their babies.

Analysis of research shows that using a birth pool during labour provides “clear benefits” for healthy mums and their newborn, with less intervention and fewer complications during and after the birth than when compared to labouring and giving birth on land. Mothers also report higher levels of satisfaction with their birth experience.

Dr Ethel Burns of Oxford Brookes University Faculty of Health and Life Sciences led a team of researchers, working with Dr Claire Feeley (Oxford Brookes), Dr Priscilla Hall (Emory University, USA) and Dr Jennifer Vanderlaan (University of Nevada, USA). The research looking at 157,546 sets of mothers and babies was published in the journal BMJ Open

Latest altimetric.

Baby under water

Past events

The OxMater group hosts seminar series in each academic year. We are grateful to all of our speakers and to the many staff, students and professionals who enthusiastically support these events.

Webinar: Challenges and opportunities in implementing and embedding change in maternity services.