Midwifery professors talk about their global work on Radio Solent

BU midwifery academics Professor Vanora Hundley and Professor Edwin van Teijlingen were interviewed by BBC Radio Solent’s Katie Martin about their work to improve maternity services around the world.

Katie, who presents Solent’s mid-afternoon programme, spoke to the pair about a conference that they had organised in Bournemouth, which looked at the international issues facing those giving birth and their babies.

Edwin, a Professor of Reproductive Health Research, said: “We were proud to have this international conference bringing people from a range of different countries including the United States, Ghana, Spain and the UK, of course, coming together to talk about what we need to do next on the world agenda to improve midwifery and maternity care for women in the next 15 to 20 years.”

He added that previous Millennium Development Goals looking at reducing maternal and child mortality, which had been set by the United Nations in 2000 with a target of being achieved by 2015, have had varying success.

“Some countries are doing well and reaching the targets, the majority of countries are getting there and some are not progressing that much.”

He also spoke about the work that he has been doing in Nepal, looking at improving access to midwifery services and some of the social and cultural reasons behind why and how women choose to use such services.

Katie also spoke to Professor of Midwifery Vanora Hundley about her recent appointment as an advisor for the World Health Organisation (WHO).

Vanora, who is working on a study to create tools to help improve birth outcomes, said that women giving birth in developing countries faced a number of risks – including infection and blood loss.

She said: “These are particularly great when women don’t give birth with a skilled person, and that’s why midwifery was so important and so central to the conference that we held and also towards meeting the Millennium Development Goals.”

She added that her work with the WHO would build on experiences with high income countries, looking at getting more women to come into hospitals and facilities to give birth – but making sure that they do so at the right time.

“One of the problems is that if you bring women into hospital too early, before labour is established and before women are actively in labour, you increase the risk of the medicalisation – so a woman is more likely to have intervention that she doesn’t need if she’s in hospital early in the labour.”

Katie ended the interview by saying how wonderful it was to have leading names in midwifery based in the South, “changing the world,” and asked what it meant for students to have their lecturers working and recognised on such an international level.

“I think it’s important that they see that research is real,” said Vanora.

“It’s not something that you do in an ivory tower – it has real impact, it improves the outcomes for mums and babies and they can actually see the value of it then.”

Listen to the interview in full (starts 1 hour and 15 minutes into the programme)

Academics to look at access to maternity services in Nepal with Fellowship grant


A team from Bournemouth University will look at why women in Nepal don’t use health services when giving birth, after receiving the first International Fellowship for Midwives.

The Fellowship is awarded by the charity Wellbeing of Women, in association with the Royal College of Midwives, for research into maternity services and women’s health from an international perspective.

The team from BU will use the £20,000 Fellowship grant to look at the real and perceived barriers to women in Nepal giving birth within a health facility with a skilled birth attendant.

“There is evidence that access to skilled birth attendant is likely to lead to a better outcome for the mother and baby,” said Lesley Milne, senior lecturer in Midwifery at Bournemouth University, who will lead the project.

“If they don’t, it is more likely to end in a maternal mortality, and we are trying to determine why women in Nepal don’t access health services.”

Lesley will be supported by Vanora Hundley, Professor in Midwifery at BU, Edwin van Teijlingen, Professor of Reproductive Health Research at BU, and Dr Padam Simkhada, from the University of Sheffield.

The year-long project will start on April 1 and the money received as part of the Fellowship will enable Lesley to go to Nepal for three weeks in September to undertake the research.

She said: “This would not be possible if we had not been awarded this money.

“It’s fantastic to have received this grant and we are really pleased about it.”

She added: “There is an under-utilisation of health services in Nepal. It is about getting women to use the services available and trying to find out why many of them currently don’t.

“I will be going out to Nepal to observe and also undertake some interviews of health personnel of both a rural hospital and a hospital in Kathmandu, to try to see what they think is preventing women from accessing services.”

Lesley added that possible reasons for women not accessing health services could include having to travel a long way, having had poor previous experiences or their cultural beliefs.

Bournemouth University has been building links with Nepal across a number of areas and academic schools, including the School of Health and Social Care, and both Lesley and fellow researcher Professor Edwin van Teijlingen have experience in the surrounding area.

Lesley said that she hoped the research could be a springboard for future study.

“I hope that we may have a great insight into why women aren’t accessing services and hopefully will be able to address that in the future,” she said.