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Transfer from Midwifery Unit to Obstetric Unit During Labour


The overarching aim of this research was to provide information to improve the care and experience of women planning to give birth in midwifery units (MUs), by investigating the factors associated with intrapartum transfer to hospital obstetric units (OUs) and by exploring women's experience of transfer.

This research was funded from October 2007 to September 2011 by a Researcher Development Award from the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR). It included an evaluation of local NHS guidelines on transfer, analyses of data relating to transfer from the Birthplace national cohort study and, the Birthplace Transfer Study, a qualitative interview study exploring women's experience of transfer. This work is now complete and has been written up as a doctoral thesis by Rachel Rowe.


Rowe ;R. Transfer from midwifery unit to obstetric unit during labour: rates, process and women's experience [DPhil thesis]. Oxford: University of Oxford; 2011.

Rowe RE. Local guidelines for the transfer of women from midwifery unit to obstetric unit during labour in England: a systematic appraisal of their quality. Quality and Safety in Health Care 2010; 19:90-94.

Rowe RE, Fitzpatrick R, Hollowell J, Kurinczuk JJ. Transfers of women planning birth in midwifery units: data from the Birthplace prospective cohort study. BJOG 2012;119:1081–1090

Rowe RE, Kurinczuk JJ, Locock L, Fitzpatrick R. Women's experience of transfer from midwifery unit to hospital obstetric unit during labour: a qualitative interview study. BMC Pregnancy and Childbirth 2012 12:129

View the publication on BioMed Central

Women who took part in the Birthplace Transfer Study should contact Rachel if they would like, and have not yet received, their summary of the results of this study.


Rachel Rowe
Health Services Researcher
National Perinatal Epidemiology Unit (NPEU)
Nuffield Department of Population Health
University of Oxford
Old Road Campus


01865 289713

Updated: Wednesday, 05 January 2022 16:23 (v13)