University of Birmingham Professor receives national midwifery honour

Professor Sara Kenyon

A University of Birmingham Professor has received a national award from the Royal College of Midwives (RCM) for her contribution to midwifery.

Sara Kenyon, Professor of Evidence Based Maternity Care at the University of Birmingham’s Institute of Applied Health Research, has received a prestigious RCM Fellowship. This is an honour given to just a handful of midwives each year.

Professor Kenyon qualified as a midwife in 1982 and has been a trailblazer throughout her career. She was among the very first midwives in the UK to perform ultrasounds scans of women in pregnancy, and helped develop a scanning course for midwives.

She was involved in the beginnings of the support group ‘Antenatal Results and Choices’ and then went on to lead the ORACLE trial and Children Study which has transformed antibiotic use in preterm birth.

Professor Kenyon leads a West Midlands-based project, which has developed a maternity triage system and training for midwives to standardise their discussion with women about where they want to give birth. She is also leading research looking at the use of the drug Oxytocin in delayed and induced labour and links to caesarean section rates.

She is a midwife on 'MBRRACE-UK', a group investigating maternal and infant deaths and stillbirths. This is a project that reviews all deaths of mothers and babies around pregnancy and makes recommendations to reduce them. She is also involved in the Perinatal Mortality Review Tool which is working to standardise how the deaths of babies during and after pregnancy are reviewed. She co-chairs the Perinatal Confidential Enquiries.

Professor Kenyon is passionate about supporting midwives to undertake research and she is also Deputy Chair of the Health Education England and National Institute of Health Research Integrated Clinical Academic Programme Pre-doctoral Clinical Academic Fellowship Scheme Panel. This is an initiative that supports midwives who want to stay in clinical practice and also undertake research.

The Fellowship recognises Professor Kenyon’s contributions as a midwife in many areas of maternity care. After qualifying, she focused her career on research challenging the more traditional career path for midwives. She has worked in research for the last 25 years, and is now a Professor of Evidence Based Maternity Care at the University of Birmingham.

Professor Kenyon said: “I have always been passionate about midwifery, research and in improving care for mothers and babies. So to have been recognised as a Fellow of the RCM really means a huge amount to me.”

Professor KK Cheng, Director of the University of Birmingham's Institute of Applied Health Research, said: "It is a wonderful accolade for Sara to be honoured by her peers for her major contribution to midwifery.

“With her pioneering work she has developed a whole new pathway others will follow, highlighting best practice and transforming the field of maternal care."

Katherine Gutteridge, President of the Royal College of Midwives, said: “The Royal College of Midwives is delighted to award this Fellowship to Sara. Her contribution to midwifery has been enormous and work has been of incalculable importance.

“Without a doubt she has helped to save the lives of mothers and babies. She is a worthy recipient of this Fellowship and I congratulate her heartily on this achievement.”

Professor Kenyon’s award of the RCM Fellowship was announced at the Royal College of Midwives Education Conference in Bath.

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For more information please contact Emma McKinney, Communications Manager (Health Sciences), University of Birmingham, tel: +44 (0) 121 414 6681, or contact the press office on +44 (0) 7789 921 165.

Notes to editors: 

  • The University of Birmingham is ranked amongst the world’s top 100 institutions. Its work brings people from across the world to Birmingham, including researchers, teachers and more than 6,500 international students from over 150 countries.
  • The RCM is the only trade union and professional association dedicated to serving midwifery and the whole midwifery team. We provide workplace advice and support, professional and clinical guidance and information, and learning opportunities with our broad range of events, conferences and online resources.
  • The National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) is the nation's largest funder of health and care research. The NIHR:
    1. Funds, supports and delivers high quality research that benefits the NHS, public health and social care
    2. Engages and involves patients, carers and the public in order to improve the reach, quality and impact of research
    3. Attracts, trains and supports the best researchers to tackle the complex health and care challenges of the future
    4. Invests in world-class infrastructure and a skilled delivery workforce to translate discoveries into improved treatments and services
    5. Partners with other public funders, charities and industry to maximise the value of research to patients and the economy
    • The NIHR was established in 2006 to improve the health and wealth of the nation through research, and is funded by the Department of Health and Social Care. In addition to its national role, the NIHR supports applied health research for the direct and primary benefit of people in low- and middle-income countries, using UK aid from the UK government.