Maternal Health and Wellbeing

Lead researchers

Professor Helen Spiby, Professor of Midwifery


Helen is a Professor in Midwifery and Research Group Lead. She is a midwife and established health services researcher. Helen is committed to involving users of maternity services at all stages of the research process and, with colleagues, established the Nottingham Maternity Research Network, a research public involvement group. Another key interest is to build research capacity in midwifery, at all career stages.  Helen has experience of working across agencies including the NHS and Third Sector in research and evidence-based practice initiatives. Her research involves a range of methods and her interests include the organisation of maternity care, preparation for and care during labour, early labour and perinatal mental wellbeing.


View Helen's full profile.


Professor Corine Smeijers 

Corine is a Dutch Midwife and a clinical epidemiologist.


Corine has worked as an independent midwife in the Netherlands, with (at the time) a >50% home birth rate. They now (ocassionally) work as a clinical based midwife. She did her Masters in Epidemiology, the title of their PhD dissertation was 'Management of term and post term pregnancy'. Corine's main research interest is in the evaluation of maternity and/or midwifery care and more specifically on optimising physiological labour and birth and client experiences and participation. However, they do emphasize other research to improve care for women. Corine believes it is important for all women to have a positive childbirth experience. Achieving this should be the challenge for all maternity care providers.

Corine's research specialisation is merely on quantitative research methods, although they also do have experience in qualitative research methods. Being an epidemiologist, they have experience in different research methods, such as RCTs, systematic reviews and meta-analyses. Next to this, they specialised in patient involvement and action research.



Professor Catrin Evans

Catrin is primarily a qualitative researcher. Her clinical and research interests lie in maternal, sexual and reproductive health. 


Her recent research has focused on healthcare of migrant women and remote maternity care. Catrin is an active member of the School's Maternal Health and Wellbeing Research Group. Catrin also has expertise in evidence synthesis and undertakes projects (as methodological lead) on a range of topics. She is co-Director of the University of Nottingham’s Centre for Evidence Based Healthcare (a Centre of Excellence within the global JBI network). Catrin is Chair of the JBI Qualitative Methods Group and is also a member of the JBI Scoping Review Methods Group and the JBI Scientific Committee. She is currently serving as Director of Knowledge Exchange for the School if Health Sciences.



Other researchers in the group 


Dr Farzaneh Pazandeh - Assistant Professor in Maternal Health

Farzaneh is a researcher with experience in international maternal health. Her research has included evaluating quality of maternity care, early labour, evidence-based and respectful maternity care. 


Farzaneh's research interests include global maternal health, improving quality of maternity care, women's maternity care experiences, particularly from a disadvantaged background (refugee, migrant, and ethnic minority groups). Her methodological expertise includes qualitative research, mixed methods, action research and randomised controlled trials. Farzaneh has worked as an academic in Tehran (Iran) and has provided consultancy in developing countries as a Midwifery and Sexual and Reproductive Health consultant.


View Farzaneh's full profile.


Dr Gary Adams, Associate Professor 


Gary Adams is internationally recognised in diabetes education and research with much of this research involving the inter-related disciplines of maternal health care and diabetes.

Funding: Gary has successfully secured funding from internationally recognized funding bodies: Royal Society, BBSRC, EPSRC, MRC, GSK, Pfizer Global, Medimmune, Kellogg and InDependent Diabetes Trust (IDDT).


Dr Georgia Clancy - Researcher 


Georgia is an interdisciplinary social scientist with an interest in maternity care services and experiences. Her mixed-methods doctoral research explored women's childbirth preferences, decisions and outcomes in light of NHS England's Better Births policy – the first in-depth sociological study of this policy.

Georgia’s research interests include the interplay of choice and risk in pregnancy and birth, informed decision-making, service user and maternity professional communication, neoliberal policymaking and body politics. She is particularly interested in considering these issues with an intersectional lens and in relation to health disparities.


View Georgia's full profile.


Dr Elizabeth Such

Liz is an Anne McLaren Fellow and a recent NIHR Knowledge Mobilisation Research Fellow (2018-22). 


She principally works in the field of public health and health inequalities and has a background in research and knowledge mobilisation that promotes more equitable outcomes. She specialises on improving the health and wellbeing of marginalised populations, including those who have been trafficked and exploited. Her Anne McLaren Fellowship (2022-2025) focuses on the prevention of exploitation and trafficking in maternal health and care systems.

Full profile




Dr Habiba Aminu, Research Fellow, BNSc Nursing, MSc Nursing, PhD


School of Health Sciences

I joined the university in July 2023 as a Research Fellow in Modern Slavery Prevention within the Maternal Health and Wellbeing group. I have been with the University of Sheffield (School of Medicine and Population Health), where I worked on a number of research projects, including those relating to the prevention of modern slavery in the UK, improving equality, diversity, and inclusion in (health) research, and evaluating the Nottinghamshire Healthy Families Programme, Parent-Infant Relationship Initiative (PIRi).

I worked in Nigerian hospitals as a nurse/midwife and taught student nurses and midwives before completing a PhD at the University of Sheffield (Division of Population Health, formally known as the School of Health and Related Research). The PhD project explored factors within a Nigerian teaching hospital contributing to unwanted maternal outcomes. The project provided an additional layer to our understanding of what underpins contributory factors and proactive risk management within the hospital, as well as additional limitations faced by the hospital due to wider health system weaknesses.

Research interests

Vulnerable and underserved Population

Healthcare Access, Quality and Safety.

Equality, Diversity and Inclusion

Coproduction/Participatory Research Approach

Qualitative Research Methods


Dr Alison Edgley - Associate Professor of Social Sciences in Health and Director for the MA Research Methods (Health Pathway) programmer 


Alison is Associate Professor and health sociologist (in the School of Health Science since 2002).  My expertise lies in conducting epistemologically rigorous and theoretically informed qualitative research.  I have brought my sociological perspective and skills to topics of motherhood and fatherhood in relation to gender, embodiment, mental health recovery and parental experiences of self-care in children with lymphedema.  I am supervising PhD students who are working in the areas of courage in midwifery; maternal experiences of gender disappointment; as well as mental health and peer support.


View Alison's full profile.


Dr Sara Borrelli - Associate Professor 

Sara is a registered midwife (since 2008), with experience in clinical practice, research and teaching. 


Dr Sara Borrelli is Associate Professor and a registered midwife with international experience in clinical practice, education and research. She is currently the Lead for MSc Midwifery and MSc Midwifery Studies, Maternal and Newborn Health and Midwifery Focussed Continuing Professional Development. She completed her PhD in Health Studies in 2015 at The University of Nottingham. Her key research interests include early labour, preparation for birth, care for labour and birth in different birthplaces, maternity care experiences during the Covid-19 pandemic, coping with labour pain, maternity care for women affected by modern slavery.


View Sara's full profile.


Dr Kerry Evans - Associate Professor

Director of Clinical Academic Careers at the School of Health Sciences, Associate Professor of Midwifery


Dr Kerry Evans is the Director of Clinical Academic Careers at the School of Health Sciences. She is an Associate Professor of Midwifery and a senior clinical academic midwife at Nottingham University Hospitals Trust.  Kerry has experience in clinical practice and perinatal mental health research and recently completed a HEE/NIHR Clinical Lectureship award, exploring support for women with symptoms of anxiety in pregnancy.  Kerry has expertise in psychometric, qualitative and quantitative systematic reviews, complex intervention development and testing and qualitative primary research.



Dr Gina Sands - Senior Research Fellow

Gina's background is in healthcare human factors/ergonomics and she has experience in a wide variety of health services research methods, both quantitative and qualitative. Gina has a BSc in Ergonomics/Human Factors, and a PhD in healthcare ergonomics and patient safety from Loughborough University. Gina held research posts at Coventry University, the University of East Anglia, and CLAHRC-EM at the University of Nottingham before joining the School of Health Sciences as a Senior Research Fellow in 2017.


Gina’s research interests centres around how the environments we are in (both natural and built) can affect our health, safety, and wellbeing. This includes projects around how being in nature may help promote mental health and wellbeing among young pregnant women, and looking at how the design of birthing rooms may better support women’s needs. Gina is also interested in how human factors methodologies and design thinking may improve the effectiveness and safety of the maternity care system.




Maternal Health and Wellbeing Research Group

The University of Nottingham
School of Health Sciences
Queen's Medical Centre
Nottingham, NG7 2HA

telephone: +44 (0)115 823 0820