NCT has a long tradition of user involvement in research and maternity services. We want services and information for parents to be based on high quality evidence, and to be responsive to parents’ needs and preferences. NCT works with academic, professional and voluntary bodies to represent parents' views and interests during the investigation of different aspects of pregnancy, birth and parenthood. Our current collaborations are listed below – click on the links to learn more.

Surviving Crying

This two year project is developing NHS services to support parents who are concerned about their baby’s crying. Babies who cry more than average are usually healthy and develop normally, however their crying can alarm and distress parents resulting in maternal depression and poor parent-child relationships. Other consequences are stopping breastfeeding, problems with long-term child development, and infant abuse in a small number of cases.  There are no tried and tested NHS practices for supporting parents in managing or coping with crying, instead parents turn to popular books, magazines or websites, which can give conflicting advice. By providing evidence-based services, the researchers hope to improve parents’ wellbeing, infant outcomes, and how NHS money is spent. The project is based at De Montfort University, Leicester, is funded by the National Institute for Health Research HTA programme, and involves a collaboration with Leicester Partnership NHS Trust, Leicester, London and Middlesex Universities, NCT, and the charity Cry-Sis.  The study will be coordinated by Dr Rosemary Garratt, Principal Lecturer in Midwifery, Nursing and Midwifery Research Centre, De Montfort University. To receive emails about the progress of this study contact


The aim of this pragmatic randomised controlled trial is to evaluate the impact of upright positions in the second stage of labour when women have a low-dosage epidural in place, as compared to lying down. The research is being conducted among first time mothers, and the outcome measures include the incidence of straightforward vaginal birth, instrumental vaginal birth, maternal and baby health in the first week after birth, and long-term maternal health and well-being assessed one year after birth. A health economic evaluation of cost effectiveness will also be conducted. BUMPES is due to report in spring 2016.

Cord Pilot Trial 

This pilot trial is comparing cord clamping within 20 seconds of birth with clamping at least two minutes after birth, for very preterm babies (ie those born before 32 weeks gestation). The aim is to assess the feasibility of conducting a large randomised trial in the UK. Recruitment was from March 2013 to February 2015. Overall 261 women/baby pairs were recruited at eight sites (in Aberdeen, Bradford, Leicester, Liverpool, London, Nottingham and Wolverhampton). Follow up for women is at one year, and for children at age two years (corrected for gestation at birth).

INFANT: A multicentre randomised controlled trial of an intelligent system to support decision making in the management of labour using the cardiotocogram

The study is investigating whether use of decision-support software alongside standard electronic fetal monitoring can help midwives and doctors improve the care they give when they suspect that a baby is not coping with labour. Outcome measures include health of the baby after birth, health of the baby at two years of age and mode of birth. The study also includes a quality of care analysis and economic evaluation. INFANT is due to report in spring 2016. 

Births and their outcome: analysing the daily, weekly and yearly cycles and their implications for the NHS

This project aims to inform decision making by investigating whether rates of death or severe problems in babies or their mothers are affected by the time of day, day of week and day of the year for births occurring in England and Wales. It will take account of factors which may affect timing such as whether labour was induced or the delivery was by planned caesarean. The project will also look for patterns in timing of births to help predict when maternity services will be operating at or beyond capacity.

Social experiences of breastfeeding: building bridges between research and policy

This seminar series will bring together academics from a range of disciplines with those involved in education, practice and policy. Over a series of six seminars, during 2015 and 2016, a core group of attendees (plus one internationally renowned speaker each time) will meet to consider how to further understanding of women’s embodied, affective and day-to-day practices of trying to breastfeed and to talk about how more UK women might be helped to breastfeed for longer. The seminars are being organised by the University of the West of England, Cardiff University and the University of South Wales. Seminars will be held in Bristol and in Cardiff.

Reducing maternal and child obesity through tailored breastfeeding support

New mothers who are overweight or obese will be supported by midwives and health visitors with a view to ensuring babies are exclusively breastfed for 6 months. This project will co-design, pilot and evaluate this intervention in a bid to reduce postnatal weight retention and child obesity. The target area is among the most economically deprived in England, with around 50% of women overweight or obese at pregnancy booking and higher than England average levels of child obesity.

A novel peer-support intervention using Motivational Interviewing for breastfeeding maintenance: a UK feasibility study

A peer support programme is being developed for mums who are young or live in disadvantaged areas to help them breastfeed for longer. The peer supporters will be given training in using a Motivational Interviewing (MI) based approach. This will help them support mums in exploring their thoughts and concerns about breastfeeding and support them in setting their own goals. The programme will then be evaluated in three areas in Wales and England.

A two arm feasibility trial of lifestyle information and Slimming World groups to promote weight management and positive lifestyle behaviour in postnatal women from an ethnically diverse inner city population

Many women are overweight or obese when they become pregnant, or gain more weight in their pregnancy than they need to, and are consequently more likely to develop diabetes or high blood pressure, to need interventions during birth and are less likely to breastfeed. They are also more likely to have ongoing weight problems, increasing the risk of poor outcomes in future pregnancies and of long term health conditions such a heart disease. Babies born to women who are overweight or obese are more likely to have heavier birthweight, congenital birth defects, to be stillborn or to become obese themselves. Developing good quality postnatal advice on diet and lifestyle is an important way of supporting women and their families in these communities, however, it still is unclear how or when to engage women and how best to support them with weight management. This project will investigate whether attendance at Slimming World groups, supported by good quality information on healthy lifestyles, could support women in a deprived inner city population to better manage their postnatal weight and to take up more positive health behaviours, such as breastfeeding, increasing physical activity and stopping smoking.

PhD students

We also support several PhD students who are undertaking projects in the following areas: 

  • Birth place design
  • Support for couple relationships following birth trauma
  • Group identity and PTSD
  • Fathers and birth
  • Virtual mentoring for dispersed practitioners
  • Yoga for pregnancy