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. 

Group of midwives


Ethel Burns

Dr Ethel Burns

Senior Lecturer

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Name Role Email
Dr Jane Carpenter Senior Lecturer, Course Lead DMid
Dr Claire Feeley Associate Lecturer
Dr Louise Hunter Lead Midwife for Education
Dr Ginny Mounce 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, Dr Mary Malone


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



Name Role Organisation
Dr Cindy Farley Associate Professor Georgetown University
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 Louise Hunter, Dr Jane Carpenter

News and events

Ethel Burns contributed to this letter which adds to current debate regarding the OASI Care Bundle. BJOG, 20 July 2021.

Join the discussion at this event with the Maternal and Newborn Form, RSM on 4 November 2021.

Alessandra Morelli was responsible for the set up and management contributed to later stages of the study design and analysis of the BRIDGE-IT study in South East London - published in 2020 in the Lancet.

  • Cameron, S. T., Glasier, A., McDaid, L., Radley, A., Baraitser, P., Stephenson, J., ... & Norrie, J. (2020). Use of effective contraception following provision of the progestogen-only pill for women presenting to community pharmacies for emergency contraception (Bridge-It): a pragmatic cluster-randomised crossover trial. The Lancet, 396(10262), 1585-1594.

See the NIHR report, July 2021

  • Cameron, S. T., Glasier, A., McDaid, L., Radley, A., Patterson, S., Baraitser, P., ... & Norrie, J. (2021). Provision of the progestogen-only pill by community pharmacies as bridging contraception for women receiving emergency contraception: the Bridge-it RCT. Health technology assessment (Winchester, England), 25(27), 1.

Sarah Fleming - skin care paper published.

May 2021 

Labouring water and waterbirth, Claire Feeley and Ethel Burns.

February 2021 

Midwife Carina Okiki was appointed as a Postgraduate Research Assistant for 'An exploration of the application and learning experiences of BAME midwifery students (UREC 201430)' and has started interviewing student midwives.

On 10 February, Midwife Ceri Glenister presented a seminar on the publication based on her MSc dissertation project with supervisor Associate Professor, Rachel Rowe, National Perinatal Epidemiology Unit. 'Local guidelines for admission to UK midwifery units compared with national guidance: A national survey using the UK Midwifery Study System' (UKMidSS).

January 2021

A systematic meta-thematic synthesis to examine the views and experiences of women following water immersion during labour and waterbirth, Claire Feeley, Megan Cooper, Ethel Burns. First published 19 January 2021.

October 2020 

Publication: Ceri Glenister, MSc midwifery graduate (2019), compared local eligibility criteria for midwifery units with national criteria for her dissertation project. She was enabled access to a national database at the National Perinatal Epidemiology Unit (NPEU) by Dr Rachel Rowe who supervised her with Ethel Burns. Her study was published in Plos One on 20 October 2020.

MSc Project: Newborn skin-cleansing. A systematic literature review of seven studies investigated parents’ and carers’ newborn skin-cleansing practices in order to describe these practices and their underlying rationales. Findings demonstrated that cultural influences appeared to drive parental practices in relation to newborn skin-cleansing, and many parents were unwilling to break away from these.  

Past events

Challenges and opportunities in implementing and embedding change in maternity services

13 October 2020

Midwifery ran a webinar as part of a module for third year students. Over 50 people attended this event which stimulated interesting discussion. Speakers included: 

  • Sarah Noble, Head of Midwifery, South Warwickshire NHS Foundation Trust
  • Dr James Harris, Senior Clinical Lecturer in Evidence Based Midwifery, Chelsea & Westminster
  • Prof Mary Renfrew, Professor of Mother and Infant Health, University of Dundee
  • Ethel Burns, Oxford Brookes University