Spotlight on – Kate Stanbury, Research Midwife

My name is Kate Stanbury and I am a Research Midwife based within the Midwifery Research Team, which works across Saint Mary’s Managed Clinical Service (MCS).

Having first joined the Trust in October 2015, I worked as a rotational midwife across all areas of maternity, before finding a passion for research.

I was driven to pursue a career in research, as I aspire to make a positive impact on the care women with pregnancy complications receive and to improve outcomes for these women and their babies. This led me to my current role as a Research Midwife, based at the Maternal and Fetal Health Research Centre (MFHRC) at Saint Mary’s Hospital.

As a Research Midwife, I manage, coordinate and facilitate various research studies investigating maternal and fetal health (mothers and unborn babies). I am part of a wider team of 16 Research Midwives and Research Practioners, who deliver research across Saint Mary’s MCS, which includes Saint Mary’s Hospital at Trust’s Oxford Road Campus (ORC), Wythenshawe Hospital and North Manchester General Hospital (NMGH). We currently have 23 studies open to recruitment and another 11 in set-up.

I started my current role in July 2020, raring to go and eager to get my teeth stuck in to research. However, I joined the Midwifery Research Team at the height of the first wave of the Coronavirus pandemic. This meant the first few months of my research career was very different to what my predecessors had experienced. At the time, our main priority was helping to deliver on essential COVID-19 research studies, such as the nationally-prioritised Recovery Trial, so all maternal and fetal research projects that were not designated as ‘life and limb saving’ were paused.

This meant that I did not commence my first maternity research study until September 2020. Despite the delay, I was still busy caring for women with high-risk pregnancies who attend the specialist translational research clinics, as well as developing my knowledge on how to deliver safe and high-quality research. The support I received from my Research Buddy and the MFHRC team really helped me through those first few challenging months. The Research Buddy system was set up by MFT Research and Innovation (R&I), and covered the first three months of my post. It includes all aspects of specialist training I required to be able to recruit to clinical trials, as well as supporting the development of our team of experienced clinical research midwives, equipping us with the expertise to work across a number of studies.

I have now been a Research Midwife for nearly two years, and I currently lead on four studies:

  • START Clinic study – a feasibility study of a translational research antenatal clinic for IVF-conceived pregnancies, aiming to improve pregnancy experience and outcomes after fertility treatment.
  • The Big Baby trial – which aims to find out if early term induction of labour at 38 weeks, reduces the risks of complications associated with having a baby that is large for gestational age.
  • The WILL trial – which is investigating the best time for women with pregnancy hypertension (high blood pressure) to give birth to limit the risk to them and their babies.
  • The SINEPOST study – a national population-based cohort study, investigating the impact of antenatal and neonatal exposure to COVID–19 infection on infants’ developmental outcomes.

Although the pandemic has caused a great deal of disruption, I have also found that it has encouraged us to adapt and evolve to overcome new obstacles. For example, several of the studies I am now leading on have introduced remote informed consenting, which I believe has greatly benefitted the recruitment process and allowed us to consent participants we wouldn’t have otherwise been able to contact.

The last two years have been some of the most challenging and rewarding times during my career, and I feel incredibly lucky to have been given the opportunity to share my experiences with you.

One thing that I will take away from my experience is that team work really does make the dream work. I wouldn’t be where I am today without the support and encouragement of my amazing colleagues, and I am incredibly grateful to be part of such a hard-working and dedicated team.

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