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Professor Billie Hunter CBE

Professor Billie Hunter


RCM Professor of Midwifery and Director, WHO Collaborating Centre for Midwifery Development

School of Healthcare Sciences

+44 (0)29 206 88564
12.09, Eastgate House, Newport Road, Cardiff, CF24 0AB



In my role as the Royal College of Midwives Professor of Midwifery, I undertake a range of professional, international and research leadership activities. I am the Director of a new WHO Collaborating Centre for Midwifery Development within the WHO European Region, which focuses on strengthening midwifery throughout Europe. In July 2016 I was made a Fellow of the Royal College of Midwives and in June 2018 I was awarded a CBE in the Queen's Birthday Honours, in recognition of my services to midwifery and midwifery education in the UK and in Europe. I am an Honorary Professor of Midwifery in the School of Nursing, Midwifery and Physiotherapy, University of Nottingham and an Adjunct Professor, Faculty of Health, University of Technology Sydney (UTS), Australia.

My research programme is concerned with the culture of midwifery and maternity care, how this has changed over time and how it influences workforce and user experiences. I supervise postgraduate students with interests within this broad area. I am primarily interested in investigating emotions and relationships within healthcare, and how these may affect support, intra- and inter-professional working and communication. My PhD study, exploring the emotional aspects of midwifery work, has resulted in a body of widely cited publications and conference presentations, including Hunter B and Deery R (2009) Emotions in Midwifery and Reproduction; Leap N. and Hunter B (2016) Supporting Women for Labour and Birth: A thoughtful Guide. I have methodological interests in the use of ethnography and oral history.

I am also interested in exploring how maternity care culture has changed over time, and have a background in the history of 20th century maternity care. Historical publications include: Leap N and Hunter B (1993/2013) The Midwife's Tale; Borsay A and Hunter B (2012) Nursing and Midwifery 1700-2000.

My current research interests are focused on resilience and emotional support in midwifery. I am keen to find ways to use this research to better support midwives in practice, in order to improve quality of care and user experiences.


Career Overview

One of the first Bachelor of Nursing students in England, I undertook undergraduate study at Manchester University from 1972-76. I graduated with qualifications in general nursing, health visiting and district nursing, working for a short time in each of these roles before training as a midwife at Guys and St Thomas Hospitals. I developed a strong interest in working with new parents, particularly around the time of birth, leading to a clinical career in both midwifery (NHS and independent practice) and health visiting. I have worked in settings as diverse as Inner London and the Outer Hebrides, as well as in voluntary sector community projects.

In 1992 I moved into education, teaching at Pembrokeshire Further Education College before becoming a lecturer at Swansea University in 1996. I spent 16 years at Swansea University, gaining my PhD in 2002, supported by an Iolanthe Trust Research Fellowship. My PhD explored the emotion work undertaken by qualified and student midwives. In 2006, I was appointed as the first Chair of Midwifery in Wales. In this role, I developed the midwifery research programme at Swansea University, as well as supporting the general development of Welsh midwifery research. A Leading Practice Through Research Award from the Health Foundation from 2004-2006 supported an ethnographic study of the All Wales Clinical Pathway for Normal Labour and establishing the Midwifery and Reproductive Health Research Forum.

In February 2012 I was appointed as RCM Professor of Midwifery at Cardiff University.


Honours and awards

  • CBE, June 2018
  • Fellow of the Royal College of Midwives

Professional memberships

Fellow and Member of the Royal College of Midwives

Academic positions

  • March 2006 - Feb 2012 Professor of Midwifery, College of Human and Health Sciences, Swansea University.
  • November 2001 - Feb 2006 Senior Lecturer/ Head of Centre (Midwifery Research), Centre for Midwifery and Gender Studies, School of Health Science, University of Wales Swansea.
  • Sept 1996 - October 2001 Lecturer in Midwifery, School of Health Science, University of Wales, Swansea.
  • August 1992 - August 1996 Lecturer in Health and Community Studies, Pembrokeshire College, Haverfordwest, Pembs
  • January 1991 - September 1992 Health Visitor, Western Isles Health Authority, Stornoway, Isle of Lewis, Western Isles, Scotland
  • 1989 - 1990 Health Visitor, Lewisham and North Southwark Health Authority.
  • 1986 - 1989 (part-time) Community Health Worker, Women’s Project, Charterhouse-in Southwark, London
  • 1983-1986 Pregnancy Counsellor/Ante-Natal Teacher and Independent Midwife (combination of part-time roles), London                                               
  • 1981-1983 Independent Midwife, London N1.
  • 1980-81 Midwife, Brecon War Memorial Hospital, Brecon, Powys
  • 1979 Midwife, Guys Hospital, London SE1
  • 1978-1979 Health Visitor, Sighthill Health Centre, Edinburgh
  • 1978 District Nurse, Lisson Grove Health Centre, London NW1
  • 1977 Staff Nurse, Royal Infirmary, Aberdeen

Speaking engagements

Recent International engagements

Keynote speaker: Midwifery Education and Research at Cardiff University. Lithuanian University of Healthcare Sciences, Kaunas Lithuania. 7th September 2017

Keynote Speaker: Keeping going when the going gets tough. Australian College of Midwives Student Conference , Adelaide Australia, 30th October 2017

Keynote Speaker: Midwifery: A resilient profession? Australian College of Midwives 20th Annual Conference, Adelaide Australia, 31 October-2 November 2017

Workshop lead: (with Prof Nicky Leap) Supporting women who are having a complicated labour: An Interactive Workshop Australian College of Midwives Student Conference , Adelaide Australia, 31 October-2 November 2017

Keynote Speaker: Reflecting on Emotions and Resilience in Midwifery. Edith Cowan University, Perth, Australia ,7th November 2017

Guest Speaker: What does resilience mean for healthcare practitioners? Insights from UK midwives. Faculty Presentation, Edith Cowan University, Perth, Australia, 8th November 2017

Keynote speaker: How to Keep Going – Preserving Resilience and Compassion All Ireland Midwifery Conference Dublin, 13th October 2016

Guest Speaker: Caring for the Carers - Resilience and Compassion in midwifery. Joint seminar: Icelandic Midwives’ Association/Midwifery Dept University of Iceland Reykjavik/Women’s Clinic University Hospital of Iceland Reykjavik. 14th December 2016

Visiting Professor: Royal Prince Alfred Hospital for Women and Babies/University of Sydney, Sydney. October 27-Nov 1st 2014.

Recent UK National meetings/conferences:

Invited Guest Speaker: Refecting on emotions and resilience in midwifery. University of Edinburgh, School of Health in Social Science Emotions Seminar Series , June 22nd 2016

Invited Keynote speaker: Improving the quality of care for women and babies – the importance of midwifery research. University of Cambridge Research Conference and Showcase 28th April 2016

Invited Speaker: Exploring the public health component of maternity care in England. Session: Reclaiming public health: The new model of public health for midwifery. RCM Conference 2015, The International Centre, Telford, Shropshire 10 - 11 November 2015

 Invited Speaker: Research Masterclass: Ten Top Tips for Applying for Funding. RCM Conference 2015, The International Centre, Telford, Shropshire 10 - 11 November 2015

Invited speaker: WHO Collaborating Centre for Midwifery Update. RCM International Day of the Midwife Spring Conference, Hilton Hotel Cardiff 30th April 2015

 Invited seminar speaker: What does resilience mean for healthcare professionals? Insights from UK midwives. Middx University Seminar series May 7th 2015

 Invited Keynote speaker: Thriving not surviving: Nurturing Resilience in the NHS Workforce. CNO for Wales 2015 Showcase Conference, Cardiff 13th May 2015

Invited Keynote Speaker: Building Professional Resilience. All Wales Student Midwife Conference, University Hospital of Wales, Cardiff. 29th May 2015

Invited Keynote Speaker: Nurturing Resilience in Future Midwives: Challenges and Opportunities. Innovation in Midwifery Education Conference, Bournemouth University. 3rd July 2015


Committees and reviewing

International appointments:

  • Invited Technical Advisory Group Member, World Health Organisation: Policy Research Midwifery Education: Developing the evidence base for global policy guidance on improving the quality of maternal and newborn care through strengthening midwifery skills. A rapid evidence synthesis for global policy guidance on midwifery skills education and training in low and middle income countries (LMICs) ( 2017-18)
  • Developing an Essential Midwifery and Neonatal Nursing Care Education Toolkit (March 2018)
  • Member of Scientific Advisory Committee - ORAMMA ( Operational Refugee and Migrant Maternal Approach) Large collaborative international study, funded by Health Programme of the European Union ( September 2017- ongoing)
  • Invited participant: Strengthening Quality Midwifery Education 2030. WHO HQ Geneva 21-22 March 2018
  • Sub-Editor and Editorial Board member, Women and Birth ( Journal of the Australian College of Midwives
  • Advisory Group Member, International Confederation of Midwives Expert Advisory Group on Midwifery and Maternal Health Research (2002 – ongoing)
  • International Advisory Board: Midwifery – International Journal (2006 – ongoing)

     UK appointments:

      • Invited Member, Scientific Advisory Board, The Chief Scientist Office Nursing Midwifery and Allied Health Professions Research Unit (2017-ongoing)
      • Member, Council of Deans for Heath Research Advisory Group ( 2016-ongoing)
      • Member, AUKUH NMAHPs Clinical Academic Careers Development Group (2016)#]
      • Member RCM Global Advisory Group ( 2016 – ongoing)
      • Member, RCM Advisory Forum ( ongoing)
      • REF 2014 Appointment: Member of Sub-panel 3: Allied Health Professions, Dentistry, Nursing and Pharmacy in the 2014 Research Excellence Framework, representing midwifery research.
      • Member, Wellbeing of Women Research Advisory Committee ( June 2012- 2015)
      • Chair, Iolanthe Midwifery Trust (Nov 2006 – Nov 2010).
      • Trustee, Iolanthe Midwifery Trust (2004 - 2006; Nov 2010 – March 2015). UK wide charity that provides competitive funding to enhance the well-being of mothers, their babies and their families by improving the education and professional development of midwives.
      • Board Member, Academy of Nursing, Midwifery and Health Visiting Research (UK), representing Royal College of Midwives ( 2009 - 2013)
      • National Steering Group Member and Workstream Group Member, Midwifery 2020 (May 2009 - July 2010)
      • Steering Group Member, Royal College of Midwives Campaign for Normal Birth (2009 - 2012)

          Welsh appointments:

          • Strategic Think Tank Member, Welsh Maternity Strategy (March 2018 - ongoing) RCM Wales/Welsh Government

          • Founder (2005) and Chair (Oct 2005 – Nov 2010)/ Vice Chair (2010 – 2012) All Wales Midwifery and Reproductive Health Research Forum.























          Research Interests

          My main research interests focus on the culture of midwifery and maternity care, how this has changed over time and how it influences workforce and user experiences. I am particularly interested in investigating emotions, emotional support and relationships within maternity care, and how these may affect intra- and inter-professional working and communication. I am keen to find ways to use this research to better support midwives in practice, in order to improve quality of care for women and their newborns and families.

          I am currently the Co-lead for the qualitative arm of the 'POOL Study. Establishing the safety of waterbirth for mothers and babies'. The qualitative component will explore why some maternity units have high levels of pool use and waterbirth, whilst others have low levels. It uses a Realistic Evaluation approach. Phase 1 consists of online discussion groups to generate hypotheses; Phase 2 will explore these hypotheses in 4 organisational case studies.

          Research Grants:

          £895,187.06 NIHR Health Technology Assessment The POOL Study. Establishing the safety of waterbirth for mothers and babies: A cohort study with nested qualitative component. 01 Apr 2018 to 31 Aug 2021 (41 Months) (CI Prof Julia Sanders; Qualitative Co- Lead Billie Hunter)

          £14,000 Royal College of Midwives UK WHELM study: Midwives’ health and emotional wellbeing in the workplace. January –July 2017 ( PI Billie Hunter with Dr Josie Henley, Louise Silverton, and Prof Jen Fenwick and Dr Mary Sidebotham – Griffith University Brisbane)

          £7,500 Wellcome Trust/Cardiff University Humanities Collaborative Award: Narratives of Birth and Place: An Oral History of Birth 1948-1970. April 2016-December 2016 ( PI Billie Hunter with Dr Kate Boyer, Cardiff University and Dr Angela Davis, University of Warwick)

          £164,046 Burdett Trust for Nursing Develop individualised pregnancy weight charts, train midwives in weight management discussions and assess the feasibility and acceptability of using gestational weight charts. Jan 2016-December 2017 ( Co-applicant with Dr Julia Sanders (PI), Dr Lucie Warren, Dr Sue Channon,  Dr Shantini Paranjothy)

          £20,000 Royal College of Midwives Exploring the Public Health Role of Midwives and Maternity Support Workers. Nov 2014 - Jan 2015 ( PI Billie Hunter with Dr Julia Sanders and Dr Lucie Warren)

          £293,589 NIHR HTA Peer Support for Breastfeeding Maintenance (Mamkind Study) Oct 2014-Aug 2016. (Co-applicant with MEDIC/SEWTU. PI Dr Shantini Paranjothy)

          £4623 NISCHR Patient Safety and Healthcare Quality Registered Research Group. Research Development Group: Inter-professional team working on labour ward March 2014- Feb 2015. (Co-applicant with Prof Alison Fiander PI (MEDIC), Dr Aled Jones(HCARE), Dr Andrew Carsons-Stevens (MEDIC), Dr Lucie Warren (HCARE)

          £2700 NISCHR Patient Safety and Healthcare Quality Registered Research Group. Research Development Group: Supervision in midwifery. March 2014-Feb 2015 (Joint PI with Dr Aled Jones HCARE)

          £2700 NISCHR Patient Safety and Healthcare Quality Registered Research Group.Research Development Group: Maternity Carebundles. Co-applicant with Ray Samuriwo PI (HCARE).

          £5000, Wellcome Trust, 'Witness seminar on Changing Childbirth twenty years on: genesis, implementation and legacy.'   October 17th 2013, RCOG London (Co-applicant with Dr Tania Macintosh University of Nottingham (PI) and Prof Mavis Kirkham University of West of Scotland)

          £120,000, NLIAH, 'Contributing to an evidence base in workforce research. (PI. Prof D Kelly), Prof B Hunter, Prof P. Donnelly, Prof Z Radnor, Dr A Jones, Dr A McDermott, C O'Brien, Dr S Pratt and Dr D Watkins.

          £7558, 2012 Royal College of Midwives. Investigating Resilience in Midwifery. Funding to support a preliminary qualitative investigation ( online focus groups and Delphi Group), as a precursor to developing an intervention to enhance resilience in midwifery. ( Lead Applicant: Billie Hunter)

          £184,717, March 31st 2011 -   March 30th 2014 University of Surrey. RESPONSE: A collaborative research project to understand how (poor) communication by nurses and midwives contributes to complaints and to explore the role of clinical leadership in promoting effective communication for nurses and midwives in responding to informal complaints. Co-investigator. PI Dr Helen Allan, Centre for Research in Nursing & Midwifery Education, Division of Health & Social Care, Faculty of Health & Medical Sciences, University of Surrey. (  £7,231 to Swansea University)

          $5193 (AUS $) 7-20th Feb 2011 University of Technology, Sydney, Australia. Distinguished Visiting Scholar ( Applicants: Professor Caroline Homer, Dr Jenny Fenwick, Professor Billie Hunter)

          £2,283 1st December 2010 -   30th November 2011. National Institute for Social Care and Health Research (NISCHR) Children and Young People's Research Network. Seedcorn funding for new Research Development Group "Enhancing support for parents with babies in neonatal intensive care". (Lead Applicant: Billie Hunter, with co-applicants from Swansea University, Cardiff University, University of Central Lancashire, and clinicians from Abertawe Bro Morgannwg University Health Board )

          2100 June 2010 EPSRC Bridging the Gaps Funding. $acirc;  A Life in Error$acirc;  . Distinguished Lecture and Masterclass by Professor James Reason, Emeritus Professor, Manchester University (Lead Applicant: Billie Hunter, Co-applicant Prof Harold Thimbleby, Professor of Computer Science, Swansea University )

          £51,558 April 1st 2009 -   March 31st 2012 Research Capacity Building Collaboration Wales for Nursing and Allied Health Professionals (rcbcwales) PhD Fellowship. Managing weight gain in pregnancy: women's experience and clinical practice    Student: Lucie Warren; Co-applicants: Prof Billie Hunter, Dr Jaynie Rance

          £6025. 1 Jan 2009 - 31 Dec 2009 Royal College of Midwives Welsh Board. Mapping Maternity Care and Outcomes in Wales Study. (Co-applicant with All Wales Midwifery and Reproductive Health Research Forum)

          £4072. 1st June 2008 - 30 th November 2009. Swansea NHS Trust R&D Vaginal Birth After Caesarean Section -   Decision Making in Subsequent Pregnancies in a Maternity Unit with High Intervention Rates. ( PI : Sarah Fox, co-applicants Prof Billie Hunter, Dr Myriam Bonduelle)

          £146,576. October 2004 - October 2006 The Health Foundation: Leading Practice Through Research Award A Policy Ethnography of the All Wales Clinical Pathway for Normal Labour. Principal Investigator: Billie Hunter

          £50,000. September 1999 - September 2001 Iolanthe Midwifery Trust Research Fellowship Principal Investigator: Billie Hunter

          £7000. 2003 Health Professions Wales McAteer V Hunter B Sexuality in the student midwife curriculum

          £14,000. 2004-2005 Health Professions Wales Darra S, McIvor M, Hunter B An investigation into the career pathways of three year student midwives in Wales

          £7000. 2005-2006 Health Professions Wales Scouller A Hunter B The role of midwives in supporting women to have a healthy diet in pregnancy .

          £5000. 1997-1998 Welsh National Board/General Nursing Council Research Training Fellowship.


          Current PhD student topics:

          • Nasiha Al- Braiki Professional attitudes to neonatal pain management in Oman, full time student (first supervisor).  
          • Halima Abdul Nigerian Midwives’ Experiences of Workplace Resilience (first supervisor) Awarded a College of Biomedical and Life Sciences International PhD Scholarship



          Past projects

          PhDs Awarded:

          • 2009 Accomplishing being ordinary: identity talk of people conditionally discharged from secure forensic settings. Michael Coffey (second supervisor)
          • 2013 Eryl Zac Maunder The Emotion Work Experiences of Children's Nurses Caring For Life Limited Children and Young People from a Community and Children's Hospice Perspective.       Swansea University (first supervisor)
          • 2013 Lucie Warren Managing weight gain in pregnancy: women’s experience and clinical practice. Swansea University. Full-time RCBC PhD Studentship (second supervisor).
          • 2015 Mandayachepa Nyando The experiences of care givers of HIV and AIDS children in Malawi. Cardiff University, full time student (second supervisor)
          • July 2015 Marie Lewis. Exploration of the concept of trust within the midwife-mother relationship. Cardiff University, part-time student (first supervisor).
          • December 2015 Areej Haitem - Postpartum women's health: Saudi women's perspectives, full time student (second supervisor)
          • October 2016 Laura Goodwin - The Midwife-Woman relationship in a South Wales community: A focussed ethnography of the experiences of midwives and migrant Pakistani women during early pregnancy. Full time student (first supervisor