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UK Midwifery Study System

The UK Midwifery Study System (UKMidSS) is a UK-wide infrastructure which enables national studies of uncommon conditions and events, and national surveys of practice in midwifery units.

Why is this important?

Planning birth in a midwifery-led setting (at home or in a freestanding or alongside midwifery unit) is increasingly popular. National guidance on care for healthy women and their babies during childbirth recommends that women are advised that they may choose any birth setting. Midwifery units are particularly recommended because women who plan birth in these settings are more likely to have a straightforward birth without needing medical help from a doctor. Care in a midwifery unit (or birth centre) is as safe for the woman and the baby as care in a hospital obstetric unit (or labour ward). Most births in midwifery-led settings are planned in alongside midwifery units (AMUs), which are on the same site as hospital obstetric units, and the number of AMUs is increasing.

Because care in midwifery-led settings like AMUs and freestanding midwifery units (FMUs) is becoming more important, we need more information to improve care and make it even safer. For example, we can investigate and learn from some 'near-miss' events or adverse outcomes. We can also investigate if it may be safe for some women with more complicated pregnancies to plan birth in these settings.

What is the aim?

To work with and support a national network of midwives who report anonymised information to facilitate national studies of uncommon events and conditions in women planning birth in midwifery units, and participate in national surveys of practice.

How can I find out more about UKMidSS?

There is more information on these pages about UKMidSS methods and studies.

UKMidSS is led from the NPEU by Dr Rachel Rowe, Associate Professor & Senior Health Services Researcher. You can contact Rachel on 01865 289713 or

UKMidSS was set up as part of a programme of work (Post Doctoral Fellowship, Rachel Rowe, PDF-2014-07-066) funded by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) and has received ethical approval from the NRES Committee South West – Frenchay (ref. 15/SW/0166). UKMidSS is currently funded by the NIHR Policy Research Unit in Maternal and Neonatal Health and Care.

Updated: Monday, 28 February 2022 13:26 (v13)