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Midwives win grants to further reproductive research

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Three midwives have received grants from an initiative that aims to help members of the profession to pioneer research into women’s reproductive health.

The grants are jointly funded by research charity Wellbeing of Women, Royal College of Midwives and Burdett Trust for Nursing, which offers financial support to nurse-led projects.

“Research is crucial to ensure that the care midwives are giving is the best it can possibly be”

Cathy Warwick

Dr Tracey Mills, from the University of Manchester, and Lucy November, from King’s College London, have both won international fellowship awards.

The aim of the grant is to enable midwives to develop research interests in maternity services, pregnancy, childbirth and women’s health from and international perspective.

Dr Mills will look at care and support after stillbirth in maternity hospitals in Kenya, while Ms November will investigate high maternal mortality rates among teenagers in Sierra Leone.

Meanwhile, Birmingham University’s Lisa Follows has won an entry level scholarship, which is intended to help a promising midwife gain research experience and “take a significant step forward in launching a clinical academic career”.

She will use her funding to research the impact on community midwives of early discharge home after birth of mother and babies.

RCM chief executive Cathy Warwick said: “Research is crucial to ensure that the care midwives are giving is the best it can possibly be.

“These three awards show the range of work being done by midwives and in critical areas that can save lives, improve care and make a difference to women in the UK and globally,” she said. “I congratulate them all and look forward to seeing the results of their work.”

Shirley Baines, chief executive of Burdett Trust for Nursing said her organisation was committed to ensuring that women “get the best possible maternity care”.

“We wish Tracey, Lucy and Lisa every success with their important international research,” she said.

Fiona Leishman, chief executive of Wellbeing of Women, added: “These three projects show the breadth of work we fund both in the UK and globally to achieve our vision for a world where women are free from the distress, pain and heartache caused by women’s reproductive health issues.”


The midwives and their projects

Dr Tracey Mills

Dr Tracey Mills, a midwife with a PhD in obstetrics, will explore experiences of parents and health workers in Kenyan maternity hospitals of care and support after stillbirth. Working with partners in Kenya, interviews with mothers, fathers and health workers will help Tracey to understand the parents’ needs and the challenges encountered in providing sensitive and appropriate care. This information will be used to raise awareness amongst

Wellbeing of Women

Midwives win grants to further reproductive research

Tracey Mills

professionals and policy makers, improve the education of professionals and develop better ways of caring for families which could be tested in clinical trials, with the aim of providing the best care possible after the tragedy of stillbirth.

She said: “I am delighted to have been awarded the Wellbeing of Women/RCM/Burdett Trust for Nursing fellowship. It is fantastic to be able to continue my global health research journey with an inspiring international team of researchers exploring bereavement care, an area we are all passionate about. Most importantly this award will allow the voices of Kenyan parents and health professionals to be heard, this is an essential first step to ensure all women and families receive respectful and sensitive care no matter where they live.”

Lucy November

Lucy November, an experienced clinical midwife with a master’s in public health, will explore the contributing factors to high maternal mortality in adolescents in Eastern Freetown in Sierra Leone. She has worked with an international NGO in Freetown and has developed networks that will help with her research. Sierra Leone has the highest maternal mortality ratio in the world and this is increased in young women under 20 and is an even

Wellbeing of Women

Midwives win grants to further reproductive research

Lucy November

higher risk for teenage girls. Through focus groups and interviews with pregnant girls and adolescent mothers, families of girls who have not survived and midwives, teachers and women’s leaders Lucy will be able to better understand the factors which put younger women at greater risk. The aim is to develop strategies for these young women to help reduce those risks.

She said: “I am delighted and very grateful to have been awarded this grant from Wellbeing of Women. Sierra Leone is the most dangerous country in the world to give birth, and the situation for pregnant teenagers is most severe. The grant will allow me to make two research trips to Freetown to investigate why teenagers are at such high risk and to propose some practical solutions, making a significant difference in the lives of this vulnerable group.”

Lisa Follows

Lisa Follows will research the impact on community midwives of early discharge home after birth of mother and babies. Postnatal stay has been decreasing since the 1970’s from 42% staying for seven days or more after birth in 1975 to just 2% in 2013-2014. Research carried out by the RCM showed that the majority of midwives reported they were not able to provide postnatal care to a standard they were happy with. Studies have also suggested that some women are dissatisfied with their postnatal care. This project will look at what community midwives feel needs improving and how they can make better use of the resources available to them. The aim is to improve care for mother and baby.

Wellbeing of Women

Midwives win grants to further reproductive research

Lisa Follows

She said: “This award means so much to me. Not only is it giving me the opportunity to embark on a career path in research but also giving a voice to community midwives by looking at the impact early discharge of mothers and babies has on their workload, furthermore, how they feel as clinicians care of women and babies can be improved.”

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