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 - Course Lead Professional Doctorate in Midwifery


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 and evaluated to improve the accuracy of visual blood loss estimations during waterbirth. All4Maternity will soon be hosting this resource for access by maternity services, universities and interested others as a CPD resource for clinicians.  A paper for a national evaluation of estiMATE is in preparation.

Dr Ethel Burns Oxford Brookes University From: January 2023
Until: November 2023

Water immersion during labour and waterbirth: women with risk factors

An increasing number of trusts in the UK and maternity care providers abroad are expanding birthing pool access to women who have risk factors such as a larger body, a previous CS or having an induction of labour. To understand more about what typically happens to this population, we are establishing an international, multi-professional collaboration to share data that are collected as part of routine intrapartum care provision.

Clinical guidance - we also plan to create a clinical guideline for water immersion during labour and waterbirth.

Dr Ethel Burns, Dr Claire Feeley Oxford Brookes University From: June 2023
Until: July 2024

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

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

Global Majority midwifery students

This developing research area explores the experiences of Global Majority students from University application to study midwifery through the interview process and onto the course. An ethnically diverse workforce has been identified as a key component of safe, compassionate maternity care, and yet midwifery remains a predominantly White profession across the Global North. Understanding the experiences of Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic midwifery students is key to addressing this disparity. We undertook a mixed-methods study to explore the experiences of all midwifery applicants to University in south east England. Two papers have been published, and a third is in preparation. 

Dr Jane Carpenter, Mrs Giada Giusmin, Dr Louise Hunter HEE

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

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