8 March is International Women's Day – so, today, we wanted to highlight just a few of the fantastic women working at Tommy's. From our wonderful Tommy's midwives to staff at our research centres and clinics, find out more about the people behind our charity below.
Raj, Centre Manager of Tommy’s National Centre for Miscarriage Research
I am the centre manager of our National Centre for Miscarriage Research, which is a partnership between researchers from the University of Birmingham, University of Warwick and Imperial College London. Our research focuses on understanding the causes and developing treatments for pregnancy loss. My role primarily involves operational management of the centre and its research projects.
It is very rewarding to see the positive impact the work from the centre has on families experiencing pregnancy loss. Its benefits are seen in all areas – from the support provided by our wonderful research midwives, changes being made to guidelines on treatment, the development of new tests, understanding the mental health impact of pregnancy loss and improving access to care. There are lots of different specialisms amongst our team, so there is always something new to learn and get involved with.
Our centre’s recent series in The Lancet found that Black women are at a 40% increased risk of miscarriage compared to White women. I am currently working with Tommy’s on the development of a miscarriage app that will help us to further our understanding into this, so that we can begin to address these inequalities. The app will be developed using a grant from the Government's Tampon Tax Fund, and will provide users with accurate information about their chances of having a baby and suggest personalised lifestyle changes to support this.
Oonagh, Lead Research Nurse at Tommy's National Centre for Miscarriage Research
I am the Lead Research Nurse for the Birmingham team at the Tommy's miscarriage research centre. My work involves recruiting patients to the research projects currently being carried out in our centre.
Our patients have been through recurrent miscarriages and often find their experience traumatic and distressing. Here at the centre, we appreciate this, and strive to support the participants throughout the research process. The research we carry out looks to find reasons for miscarriage, reduce the number of miscarriages and improve the care of people experiencing miscarriages.
I am proud to be a part of a multidisciplinary team that not only carries out the important research work, but also provides care and support for those families experiencing recurrent losses.
Amina, Tommy's Midwifery Manager
I'm a NHS Midwife and Tommy’s Midwifery Manager. I've been involved in midwifery care for over 17 years now and still love being a midwife as much as I did when starting out.
Midwifery for me is about all the things I am passionate about as a person, as a mother, as a woman of colour – empowering people, being an advocate, supporting people to make the right choices for themselves and above all kindness and compassion.
I came into midwifery as a second career, inspired by the birth of my second baby. I had such a positive birth experience with her that a year later I decided to take the plunge and retrain as a midwife. 15 years later that baby has just started her own midwifery training – which tells me that it must be in our blood!
As midwives we have the privileged position of being present in someone’s life when they are at their most vulnerable, of holding that sacred space safe for them to navigate their way through and watch them transform. At Tommy’s we have the added honour of being there for many families who turn to us when they are most in need – so many trust us with their precious stories of their babies, their losses, their journeys to parenthood and the sometimes difficult paths they need to navigate.
Our midwife’s helpline and PregnancyHub is at the core of my role here at Tommy’s – I am passionate about making sure that our service is open, inclusive and easily accessible to all who need it. We provide care and support that is unbiased, non-judgmental and compassionate.
There is an art and science to midwifery that has always been the biggest draw for me. Yes, we are skilled healthcare professionals, but what we say and do, the kindness and compassion we share is how we are remembered and will make the ultimate difference to women and babies.
Chloe, Researcher at Tommy's Maternal and Fetal Health Research Centre
I joined the Tommy’s Maternal and Fetal Health Research Centre in Manchester in 2018 to do my PhD. My research has focused around a rare condition called chronic histiocytic intervillositis (CHI) where the mother’s immune system seems to attack the placenta, leading to pregnancy loss. Currently, we don’t know exactly what causes CHI, so my project mainly involves studying placentas from affected pregnancies under the microscope to investigate how immune cells behave in the condition.
I was initially drawn to my project after learning how little was understood about CHI, despite the devastating effect it has on families. Through our research, we have been able to provide women with more information on the condition and explore treatments which may increase the chance of them having a healthy pregnancy in future.
I love working for Tommy’s because even though I am based in the lab, our close link with the Rainbow Clinic at the hospital means I’m constantly reminded of the importance of our research to women and their families.
Juliette, Bereavement Midwife and Tommy's Midwife
I've been a Bereavement Midwife for the NHS since 2016 and joined the Tommy's midwife team in October 2021.
I love being a midwife and believe kind, compassionate, and skilled care really matters. I’m convinced the safest maternity care happens when women and pregnant people are in genuine partnership their midwives and doctors. In my role as a specialist Rainbow Midwife, I've worked with Prof Alex Heazell to help set up a Rainbow Clinic at Royal Berkshire Hospital, as part of the Tommy's national roll-out study.
I specialise in pregnancy after loss, so I have to build close trusting relationships with families who are having a baby after a miscarriage, stillbirth or neonatal death. Some of these families have had many losses before their current baby, and so need special care that helps them physically and emotionally.
Because of the higher risk of complications, pregnancies after loss need close monitoring with extra and specialist scans and appointments, and parents need kind and understanding support through what can be very long and anxious months.
Parents tell us this care really matters, that it provides them with a lifeline – they don’t have to keep retelling their story and they feel less lonely knowing that their care team understands what they have been through and offers them a sense of hope for the future.
It’s a privilege to accompany parents as they navigate the often complex and challenging journey of pregnancy after loss and a joy to see new and precious babies join their families.
Racheal, Research Associate at Tommy's National Centre for Miscarriage Research
I'm a Research Associate at the National Centre for Miscarriage Research. I'm based at the centre in Birmingham and have worked there for 3 years.
A lot of my work happens behind the scenes, providing administrative support to the researchers at the centre so that they can recruit people to their studies. I'm often the first person that our patients and trial participants will speak to from the centre, normally via email or over the phone.
Since our patients have been through recurrent miscarriage, they often feel very anxious when contacting us for care or because they'd like to take part in a trial. When speaking to these people, it's important to be friendly and compassionate to make them feel comfortable with participating. I support patients throughout our different trials so they feel fully informed about their care and are able to build a trusted relationship with the research team.