Navigation

News and events

Professor Soo Downe

Prof. Soo Downe

Professor in Midwifery Studies

School of Community Health and Midwifery

Brook Building, BB223

+44 (0) 1772 89 3815

sdowne@uclan.ac.uk

Soo’s research is encompassed by four distinct programmes of work, namely: 
1. Intrapartum phenomenon and techniques, with specific attention to physiological processes and consequent outcomes 
2. Midwifery expertise and practice 
3. Place and mode of birth, and associated interprofessional issues 
4. Service user engagement.

Soo is research active within the area of midwifery and maternal child health and is a member of the Research in Childbirth and Health Unit (ReaCH).

Full Profile

OBE for services to midwifery 2011

PhD Midwifery, University of Derby 2000

MSc Research, University of Derby

Registered Midwife 1985

BSc (Hons) Literature and Linguistics, University of York, 1981

Soo has used a wide range of methods, in her research, including trials, surveys, systematic reviews (metasynthesis and meta-analysis), ethnography, phenomenology, and participatory action research based on appreciative enquiry. She is interested in the utility of complexity theory in understanding dynamic health states. Her specific focus is the normal physiology of childbirth, including the processes which can maximise normal birth, with a focus on the understanding of the nature of positive wellbeing (salutogenesis) as opposed to simply reducing pathology.

Her other areas of general interest include methodological innovation, particularly in the area of metasynthesis, and the creation of collaborative links with service users at all stages of the research process.

Soo has had an article published on The Conversation, entitled ‘It’s no wonder women opt for caesareans over natural birth when they are not given a real choice’

Publications

Hodnett, Ellen D, Downe, Soo and Walsh , Denis (2010) Alternative versus conventional institutional settings for birth. The Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, 8 (-). pp. 1-52. ISSN 1464-780X

Finlayson, Kenneth William and Downe, Soo (2013) Why do women not use antenatal services in low and middle income countries? A metasynthesis of qualitative studies. PLoS Medicine, 10 (1). pp. 1-10. ISSN 1549-1277

Beeckman, K., Louckx, F., Downe, S. and Putman, K. (2013) The relationship between antenatal care and preterm birth: the importance of content of care. The European Journal of Public Health, 23 (3). pp. 366-371. ISSN 1101-1262

Downe, Soo, Schmidt, Ellie, Kingdon, Carol and Heazell, Alexander (2013) Bereaved parents experiences of stillbirth in UK hospitals: qualitative interview study. British Medical Journal (BMJ), 2013 (3). pp. 1-11. ISSN 0959-8138

More publications

Research

Dahlen H, Smeid V, Downe S, Tracey S
Facilitating physiological birth positioning in three different birth settings: An exploration into facilitators and inhibitors.
University of Western Sydney research grant scheme Nov 2008 $24655
SMD as advisor: no funding at this stage, but this will be the basis for a larger bid with full funding for all collaborators

Midwives views of midwifery expertise; a focus group study
L Simpson, K Trafford, S Downe
Institutional collaborators East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust
Funded: UCLan and ELHNHST.
£10,000 To Dec 08

Choice, risk and collaboration
Downe S and Byrom S
Institutional collaborators: East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust
Funded: DH Maternity Matters Early Adopter call
£15000 Jan-June 2008

NHSNW Vulnerable women's access to antenatal care study
Downe S, Kingdon C, Finlayson K, Thomson G, Byrom S, Eichmann H, Fleming A
Funded: NHSNW
£30,000 Oct 08-March 09

Edozien L, Downe S, Lester H, Reeves B, McGowan L, Steen M, Edge D, Roberts S
Engaging Partners in Childbirth (EPiC1): a feasibility study for a national programme of work.
Funded: Central Manchester and Manchester Children’s University Hospitals Research and Innovation Fund.
£20,500 Oct 2008-May 2009

Downe S, Byrom S, Finlayson K, Fleming A
Choice, risk and collaboration in maternity services (roll out)
Funded: NHSNW
£50000 Sept 2009-May 2010

Downe S and the ReaCH and MAINN groups
NW NIH research design service
Funded: NIH NW
£60,000 July 2008-March 2011.

Downe S, Byrom S, Finlayson K, Fleming A
Choice, risk and collaboration in maternity services (roll out)
Funded: NHSNW
£50000 Sept 2009-Sept 2010 View protocol 1 document

Midwives views of midwifery expertise
L Simpson, K Trafford, S Downe
Institutional collaborators East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust
Funded: UCLan and ELHNHST.
£10,000 Complete View paper

Choice, risk and collaboration
Downe S and Byrom S
Institutional collaborators: East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust
Funded: DH Maternity Matters Early Adopter call
£15000 Complete View report

NHSNW Vulnerable women's access to antenatal care study
Downe S, Kingdon C, Finlayson K, Thomson G, Byrom S, Eichmann H, Fleming A
Funded: NHSNW
£30,000 Complete View paper and view report

Downe S and the ReaCH and MAINN groups
NW NIH research design service
Funded: NIH NW
£38,000 July 2009-March 2011.
http://www.rds-nw.nihr.ac.uk/about/index.php

Dahlen H, Smeid V, Downe S, Tracey S
Facilitating physiological birth positioning in three different birth settings: An exploration into facilitators and inhibitors.
University of Western Sydney research grant scheme Nov 2008 $24655

Edozien L, Downe S, Lester H, Reeves B, McGowan L, Steen M, Edge D, Roberts S
Engaging Partners in Childbirth (EPiC1): a feasibility study for a national programme of work.
Funded: Central Manchester and Manchester Children’s University Hospitals Research and Innovation Fund.
£20,500 April 2009-May 2010

Edozien L, Downe S, Lester H, Reeves B, McGowan L, Steen M, Edge D, Roberts S
Engaging Partners in Childbirth (EPiC1): a feasibility study for a national programme of work.
Funded: Central Manchester and Manchester Children’s University Hospitals Research and Innovation Fund.
£20,500 Oct 2008-May 2009

Downe et al (UCLan, Universities of York Lancaster, Manchester, Sheffield, ELHNHST)
Self-hypnosis for intrapartum pain management (SHIP) trial
Funded: Research for Patient Benefit Projects scheme
£243600 May 2010-April 2012 View Commissioned project

Downe et al
Childbirth Cultures, Concerns, and Consequences: Creating a dynamic EU framework for optimal maternity care
Funded: EU COST programme 400,000 Euros July 2010- June 2014 View COST Action site:

NW Clinical midwives network
Midwives knowledge of and recommendation for alternative methods of labour induction: a survey of midwives in the north west of England
Infrastructure funding: final report in preparation

Hodnett, Downe, Walsh
Cochrane review (update): Home like settings for birth
Competed review with referees See the current review

Downe, Dahlen, Gyte, Singata
Cochrane review (new): Vaginal examination for assessing progress in labour
Protocol in development Please hyperlink to current review on Cochrane titles

Heazell et al
Views on the post-mortem examination in the neonatal period: a national survey of midwives and obstetricians
Funding: infrastructure
Data analysed, report in preparation

Heazell et al
The neonatal post-mortem: views of parents
Funding: £15000 SANDS
May 2010-Feb 2011

Downe et al (UCLan, Universities of York Lancaster, Manchester, Sheffield, ELHNHST)
Self-hypnosis for intrapartum pain management (SHIP) trial
Funded: Research for Patient Benefit Projects scheme
£243600 August 2010-July 2012

Downe et al
Childbirth Cultures, Concerns, and Consequences: Creating a dynamic EU framework for optimal maternity care
Funded: EU COST programme 400,000 Euros July 2010- June 2014

Heazell A, Downe S, Kingdon C
Parents experiences of post-mortem for stillbirth
Funded: SANDS: £15,000 to December 2011

Holleran J, Downe S
An ethnographic study to explore the use and impact of computerised systems within the birth suite at East Lancashire Hospitals Trust.
Funded: Wellbeing of Women/Royal College of Midwives/British Maternal Fetal Medicine Society £20,000 Jan 2012 - Dec 2012

Consultancy

NW SHA consultancy on Research Catalyst programme £10,000 July 2010-June 2011

Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists: eEFM project
Senior editorship input (RCM nominee), (Jan 2010 to Dec 2010)

Downe S, Byrom S, Kingdon C, Finlayson K, Thomson G, Eichmann H, Fleming A
CSIP NW access to maternity services by women from vulnerable groups: a mapping study Oct 2008-March 2009

Research consultant on ‘Maternity Matters Early Adopter project: choice, collaboration and safety’
East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust, April-December 2008

Research consultant, ‘Why marginalized women don’t access antenatal care’ CEMACH, 2007

Consultation on R&D pre-protocol development, East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust Women’s Health R&D group. From 2006

Research consultant on ‘Recognising post natal depression through local interaction with ethnic minority women’ project, based in CommuniCare NHS Trust in Accrington, Lancashire 2003-2004

Training course to maximize normal childbirth in Hong Kong, October 2011 (2 groups of 40 midwives)

Product Development

Byrom S, Downe S, Day-Stirk F. Midwives work: promotional DVD relating to the work of midwives internationally, available from the Royal College of Midwives: http://www.rcm.org.uk/midwives/news/rcm-midwife-film-goes-global/ and Youtube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_NRfU3NRW_Y

Conferences

2004

14th International Congress of Psychosomatic Obstetrics & Gynaecology. Normal birth: a catalyst for maternal and societal well-being.
Edinburgh May 16-19,

Keynote address:
New Zealand College of Midwives Biannual Conference
The Will to Midwifery: reclaiming love, faith, trust and belief in childbirth
And
Stories of self: Old ways of knowing, new ways of understanding
Wellington, New Zealand, Sept 04

Keynote address:
The Will to Midwifery: reclaiming normal birth
Tokyo, Japan Oct` 30th 2004 & Kyoto, Japan, Oct 31st 2004

Reducing caesarean births conference
Keeping birth normal
Russell Hotel, London, 18th March 2004

Maternity statistics – a mayday call
Health statistics users group conference
Developing normal birth statistics
Oliver Thompson lecture Theatre, City University, London May 1st 2004

2005

ReHuNa 2nd international maternity care conference on the humanisation of childbirth
Stories as evidenced in childbirth systems. Workshop and panel discussion
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Nov 30th-Dec 3rd 2005

International Confederation of Midwives 26th triennial congress
The nature and timing of assessment of maternal postnatal outcomes related to intrapartum clinical trials: a scoping review
27/7/05 Brisbane, Australia

Children and Young peoples network maternity workshop
Free-standing birth centres: evidence and debate
12th Jan 2005 Stockport Football Stadium

Birth International conference
Using research to inform choice (workshop)
9/04/05, University of Reading

Babylifeline organisation
National service framework for children; a blueprint for contemporary maternity care conference
What is normal birth in the 21st century?
Coventry University Technology park 21/4/05

Isle of Man Maternity care conference
Normal birth and intervention: evidence, stories, and the RCM campaign
28/04/05 Nobles Hospital, Isle of Man

Royal College of Midwives annual conference
Zepheria Vetch lecture keynote address
Rebirthing midwifery: Stories of our past, present and future
13/5/05 Harrogate Conference Centre

Liverpool Womens Hospital midwifery research in practice conference
’Is research making a difference to intrapartum care’?
Blair Bell education centre, Liverpool Women’s Hospital 7/10/05

UK Supervisors of midwives conference, Building the (super)vision: Making normal birth the norm
Royal Society of Physicians, London, 14/11/ 2005.

Walsh D and Downe S
Birth Centre Skills As Nurturance: Moving Beyond A Clinical Focus
British Sociological Association Human Reproduction Study Group
Presented by Walsh
The Open University, Accenture Conference Centre, Milton Keynes
8th December 2005

2006

Flemish Association of Midwives
Biannual Francine Gooris conference: ‘Caring for birth’
Keynote address one: What is normal birth?
Keynote address two: Is there a future for normal birth?
Ghent, Belgium, March 9th 2006

Postgraduate programme
Department of Nursing Sciences
University of Ghent
Advanced Midwifery Practice
University of Ghent, Belgium, April 24th 2006

Research seminar
School Of Nursing, Midwifery And Health Systems
University College Dublin,
Promoting normal birth: research evidence and story telling
University College Dublin, Ireland, May 3rd 2006

School of Health Science, University of Wales Seminar programme
'The role of practitioners skill and patients values in Sacketts definition of evidence based medicine: accounts from maternity care'
School of Health Science, University of Wales Swansea 29/3/06

British Journal of Midwifery
The 4th National Conference on Current Issues in Midwifery
Debate: ‘Hospital delivery is best’
The Royal Aeronautical Society, London 2/11/06

2007

Visiting professor programme,
Workshops & Keynote address
Is there a future for normal birth? Insights from research and story-telling.
Kwong Wah Hospital, Hong Kong Feb 3rd-9th 2007

Postgraduate programme
Department of Nursing Sciences
University of Ghent
Advanced Midwifery Practice
University of Ghent, Belgium, April 16th 2007

Keynote address
Australian College of Midwives Conference
Canberra, Australia
24th-28th September 2007

RCOG/ENTER conference: Risk management and medico-legal issues in women’s health
Midwifery-led care: risk management issues
RCOG London 25th-26th April 2007

White Ribbon Alliance conference: Midwives saving lives together
Midwifery in the 1970’s
Merseyside Maritime Museum, 4th May 2007

Metasynthesis: a guide to knitting smoke
Academic seminar
University of Belfast, 1st November 2007

2008

Choices and Challenges in Changing Childbirth research group
Invited workshop presentation: moving from research to advocacy to improve childbirth Faculty of Health Sciences, American University of Beirut, Lebanon
21-23 Jan 2008

Keynote address
First International Scientific Day: Making Child birth Safer: Applying Evidence Based Practice
Faculty of Nursing, Mansoura University, Egypt
24th January 2008

Masters in midwifery teaching
University Master in Clinical Diagnosis for midwives
Midwives competences to monitor the normal pregnancy
University of Florence, Italy, 31st March 2008

Postgraduate programme
Department of Nursing Sciences
University of Ghent
Advanced Midwifery Practice
University of Ghent, Belgium, April 14th 2008

Keynote address
Annual conference : normal childbirth
Flemish Organisation of Midwives
Dworp, Belgium 5th May 2008

Invited expert
Reproduction as Culture Research Group working group and seminar
Asahikawa Medical College Japan
March 25-27 2008 (unable to attend)

International Confederation of Midwives 27th triennial congress
(symposium) Best Practice: Normal Newborn Transition and Umbilical Cord Management at Birth ICM Mercer J, Jenny Edwin J, Closson Ross S, Erickson-Owens D, Downe S, Melvin C

(paper) Midwives, what they say about hospital labour ward midwifery. A metasynthesis
O'Connell, R; Downe, S
(paper) 'High Risk Women and Access to Antenatal Care in Developed Countries: A Metasynthesis'.
Finlayson K, Downe S, Lavender T, Walsh D
3-6 June 2008 Glasgow, Scotland

Keynote address
Celebrating Birth Centres and Midwifery Led Units
Birth Centres, their Evaluation & the Normal Birth Agenda conference,
UCLan, November 17th 2008

MIDIRS Digest
WebInAir
Reframing the place of birth debate: from professional project to authentic choice
Accessed 1st April 2008

Steen M, Downe S, Fisher D, Rigby K
Involving Fathers in Maternity Care: Best Practice - UCLAN/Fatherhood Institute.
NMC Annual Midwifery Conference,
18th Nov 2008

Show case of research in East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust
ELHNHST 2008

University of Lancaster School of Health and Medicine
Colloquium
Reproductive Medicine and Childbirth
University of Lancaster 21 November 2008

2009

Invited teaching session
Masters in Nursing Course
Advanced practice in nursing
University of Ghent, Belgium, March 2nd 2009

Invited workshop
Mama conference
Ayr conference centre, Scotland, Friday 27th March 2009

Honorary Professorial Address
University of Gothenburg, Sweden
28th April 2009

RCOG/ENTER conference: Risk management and medico-legal issues in women’s health
CNST, RCOG and other standards: is the plethora of standards confusing or reinforcing?
RCOG London 7 May 2009. Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, London
Also invited to chair the day and join the panel

Keynote lecture
Portuguese Association of Nurse Midwives national scientific meeting Promoting practices of Normal Birth - what scientific evidence?
Almada, Portugal 13th May 2009

Invited address (invitation only workshop)
European Science Federation Exploratory Workshop
Can Complexity Improve European Health Policy?
Complexity and Childbirth
Lancaster (UK), 23-25 September 2009

Invited speaker
MAMA conference
Normal birth: what is it now?
26th September 2009 , Torquay

Invited visit
Research collaboration visit and presentations
University of Western Sydney, Australia
October 2009

14/10/2009 workshop in metasynthesis:
am students of UWS
pm staff (nursing and midwifery) of UWS

16/10/2009
Keynote address: ‘Redemptive birth’ (Downe and Thomson)
Trauma to Triumph conference
Karatine conference centre, Sydney, Australia

19/10/2009
AHS forum
University of Western Sydney
Normal birth: from policy and rhetoric to action

2010

Invited Keynote lectures

Obstetrics and Gynaecology Congress, 2010, Dubai Midwifery conference: evidence based midwifery in the UAE
Using Evidence to Influence Midwifery Practice (x2 lectures)
15 – 16 February 2010
Dubai

Invited workshop
The mid-Atlantic conference on birth and primal health research
Learning from unusual normality: salutogenesis, complexity and uncertainty in maternity care
26th 28th February 2010.
The Canary Islands Convention Centre, Las Palmas, Spain.

Invited Keynote lecture
Interprofessional Breathing New Life into Maternity Care conference
Australian College of Midwives (ACM), Royal Australian College of Obstetrics and Gynaecology
Alice Springs, Australia July 1-3 2010.

Invited lecture
Doctoral Society of Midwives: first conference.
University of Ulster Sept 1-3 2010

Peer reviewed international

Kingdon C, Downe S, Finlayson K, Thomson G, Byrom S, Eichman H, Fleming A
The Social Organization of Health Care: In Whose Interests?
SSSP Annual Meeting
Non-access to antenatal care in the UK: Women’s prerogative or social problem?
San Franciso, USA, 2009 (Presented by K Finlayson)

2015

15th, 16th & 17th June 2015
Normal Labour & Birth Conference
The Grange Hotel Conference Centre, Grange Over Sands, Lake District

External Activities

International
Member of Board of Directors for International MotherBaby Childbirth Organisation (IMBCO) (June 2011-date)

International Confederation of Midwives Research Standing Committee (co-chair from January 2009-2011)

Global Alliance of Nursing and Midwifery Steering Group (invited member from January 2009-date)

International normal birth research virtual network
Founder (2001) and coordinator

Biannual international normal birth research conference
Founder (2001) and coordinator

National
Royal College of Midwives (member)

Royal College of Midwives Campaign for Normal Birth (Inaugural Chair from inception - 2011)

National Maternity Care Working Party
2002

Department of Health Midwifery 2020 Initiative (2009-2010):
Steering committee member for England
Sub-group member, Wales

Medical Research Council: College of Experts
Invited member, 2007-2009:

Regional
Patient and Public Involvement Lead, RDS North West, April 2012-March 2013

North West Clinical midwives research network
Founder (2001) and coordinator

OTHER APPOINTMENTS (
Francine Gooris International Midwifery Chair
Artevelde Hogeschool, Ghent, Belgium
2006-2008

Honorary Chair, University of Gothenburg, Sweden 2009 (visit April 2009)

Founder and coordinator, international normal birth elist
From 2001

Quality of Midwifery Care Steering Committee (Dharzi and midwifery 2020)
-and Service Delivery sub-group
Invited member, July-Sept 2008

NPSA/RCOG/RCM working group on improving patient safety in intrapartum care
Subgroup: designing criteria for acceptable evidence
Invited member and Chair Spring 2008-Sept 2008

Lancashire and Cumbria NIH Research Design Service
Invited member from June 2008

NW SHA Research Colloquium
Invited member from 2006

External Examiner, University of Ulster
From 2006

Data monitoring group for ADCAR RCT
Trinity College Dublin
Invited member