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Donna Underwood: my midwifery research journey

Donna Underwood International Day of the Midwife 2024

During my 20-year career as a Midwife I have always been people centred and enjoyed providing women and their families with information so informed decisions can be made on the care they receive. This interest in best practice led me into a new career pathway - midwifery research. 

Initially, my first steps were supporting the creation of a reproductive research department at a trust in South Yorkshire. This experience provided the research foundations needed to take midwifery research forward and grow the research portfolio. After 6 years we had recruited numerous women to many studies whilst working closely with our clinical midwifery colleagues, collaborating and providing safe practice.

Moving to the South West in 2016 I continued delivering midwifery research at a large trust, coordinating studies, completing clinical procedures and offering exciting research opportunities to patients in hospital. As a clinical Midwife my favourite part of the role was providing care in the community setting, so when an opportunity arose to become an Agile Research Midwife in Primary Care I felt excited for my next steps in research.

As an Agile Research Midwife my everyday role is varied, with hybrid working and community-based work. This has provided me with the opportunity to learn about the NIHR reproductive portfolio, and I soon became the locality representative for the National Reproductive Champion Group Network, a team of midwives that aim to drive forward midwifery research following the Department of Health’s National Objectives. The Chief Midwifery Officer for England’s Strategic Plan 2023 supports the Department of Health and Social Care’s Vision for research to give people opportunity to participate in research studies, and with this I formed a close working relationship with the Mavis study team from Bristol University.

Supporting the study team’s request, my Agile Research Midwife role provided me with links with a Local Council Research Officer who contacted the Project Lead for the charity Wild Young Parents Cornwall, which offers support to new mums under the age of 23. We arranged for the study team to meet and discuss the Mavis study with the charity manager, who agreed to promote the study to the young mums she was supporting, giving this under represented group an opportunity to engage in research.

Mavis (MAternal Vaccination In the NHS) study

This study aims to understand women’s experiences of being offered vaccinations in their recent pregnancy, to find out how to improve women’s care and the equality of vaccination provision across England. 

The Mavis study is funded by the NIHR and led by Dr Emma Anderson at the University of Bristol. 

To find out more and how to take part, visit the website

The views and opinions expressed in this blog are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect those of the NIHR or the Department of Health and Social Care.