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Helen Bedford
Professor of Midwifery



After an early career in clinical nursing and educational research, Helen qualified as a midwife and completed her PhD on the learning experiences of undergraduate nursing students and newly qualified practitioners.

Prior to entering Higher Education, Helen practised as a midwife in hospital and community settings in NHS Grampian. She was seconded as Project Midwife to develop the Scottish Woman-Held Maternity Record (SWHMR), which is used by women and health professionals throughout NHS Scotland.

Helen has extensive experience of delivering and leading midwifery education at undergraduate and postgraduate levels. She has undertaken programme leadership and curriculum development roles for pre-registration midwifery and MScs in midwifery and nursing. She has contributed to the NHS Education for Scotland (NES) funded Maternity Care Assistant preparation programme and has represented midwifery within cross institutional interprofessional education (IPE) initiatives. 

Helen is a Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy and an experienced external examiner for midwifery. Helen is committed to her professional development and has represented the Faculty of Science on the University of York Learning and Teaching Forum Committee. As Lead Midwife for Education and Director of Midwifery Education Helen leads a collegiate midwifery team within the Department of Health Sciences, and represents midwifery education within and beyond the institution. In 2023 Helen was awarded Fellowship of the Royal College of Midwives.


  • PhD, University of East Anglia
  • Award in Coaching, Institute of Learning and Management
  • PGCert Higher Education Learning and Teaching (HELT) with Distinction, Robert Gordon University
  • NMC Registered Lecturer/Practice Educator
  • BSc (Hons) Midwifery Studies – First Class, University of Bradford
    Registered Midwife
  • BSc (Hons) Nursing Sciences – First Class, University of Hull
  • Registered Nurse

Departmental roles

  • Directory of Midwifery Education
  • Lead Midwife for Education
  • Chair of the Director of Midwifery Education Forum
  • Member of Teaching and Scholarship Management Team
  • Member of the Pre-Registration Teaching Committee
  • Member of the Baby Friendly Initiative Senior Leadership Team

University roles

  • Coach within the coaching pool
  • Mentor within the mentorship pool



  • Module lead for Establishing Professional Self in Midwifery (Stage 1)
  • Module lead for Developing SProfessional Self in Midwifery (Stage 2)

Academic Assessor for undergraduate midwifery students in all programme Stages.




Helen has experience of applied health and educational research, focusing on qualitative research methods. She has interests in midwifery and maternity care and professional education. She has experience of PhD and Masters supervision and PhD examination.

Helen is interested in supervising PhD projects in the following areas: midwifery/maternity care; midwifery/professional education, qualitative research.



  • Qualitative studies within midwifery education and midwifery/maternity care.


Selected publications

  • Bedford, H & Lindsey, C with MacKellar, B (2023) Midwifery education: finding joy and nurturing hope , Forum, Issue 51  (Summer) pp. 12-13
  • Bedford, H (2022) Podcasts: supporting digital learning. British Journal of Midwifery. 30 (6) pp. 354-355
  • Pinar, S, Bedford, H, Ersser, S and McMillan, D (2022) Women's experiences of perinatal depression: Symptoms, barriers and enablers to disclosure and effects on daily life and interaction within the family. Midwifery. 122 
  • Semra, S; Ersser, S; McMillan, D & Bedford, H (2022) A brief report informing the adaptation of a behavioural activation intervention for delivery by non-mental health specialists for the treatment of perinatal depression. Behavioural and Cognitive Psychotherapy (Cambridge University Press) 
  • Bedford, H (2021) Investing in leadership - reflections on the Leadership in Action (LiA) programme, Forum, Issue 48 (Summer) pp. 8-10
  • McEwan, J & Bedford, H (2021) Developing an app to support sensitive enquiry and discussion about female genital mutilation Journal of Health Visiting, 9 (4)
  • McEwan, J & Bedford, H (2021) Digital health innovation to support sensitive enquiry about female genital mutilation.  British Journal of Midwifery, 29 (5) pp 252-259
  • Bedford, H and Lindsey, C (2018) Global Midwifery - celebrating journeys: an event to inspire learning and internationalisation. The Practising Midwife/all4Maternity, June 
  • Bedford, H and Lavelle, R (2018) Sharing your innovation via a York Learning and Teaching Forum workshop. Forum, Issue 43 (Spring) pp. 14-15
  • Bedford, H; McCaughan, D and Wright, J (2018) Internationalisation within an undergraduate pre-registration midwifery curriculum in the UK: engagement with students as a basis for action in HEA Action-research: sector case studies. pp 932-98. York: Higher Education Academy/Available from: 
  • Bedford, H C and Chamanga, P (2017) Commonwealth Professional Fellowships. African Journal of Midwifery and Women's Health. October-December 11 (4) pp. 199-204
  • Bedford, H (2017) Engaging in the York Professional Academic Development (YPAD) scheme: recognition and reflection. Forum, Issue 42 (Summer) pp. 18-19
  • Vanderpot, L E, Swinton, J and Bedford, H (2017) The unforeseen relationship between spirituality and psychiatric medication: A hermeneutic phenomenological study. Journal of Spirituality in Mental Health, 20 (1) pp, 14-26
  • McEwan, J and Bedford, H (2017) Leading by example. Community Practitioner, 90 (4) pp. 20-21
  • Bedford, H and Lavelle, R (2016) Developing midwifery students' communication skills - student work and assessment to promote professional engagement. Forum, Issue 41 (Autumn) pp. 11-12
  • Rennie, AM; Gibb, S; Hourston, A; Bedford, H; McNicol J. (2009). The development of maternity care assistants in Scotland, The Practicing Midwife. 12. (8) pp. 14-19
  • (2005) Scottish Woman Held Maternity Record (SWHMR) and Guidance for Health Professionals. The current version of the SWHMR can be accessed at:,_maternal__child/woman_held_maternity_record.aspx
  • Bedford, H and Chalmers, J (2003) A New Vision for Maternity Records in Scotland: The Scottish Woman-Held Maternity Record (SWHMR) Project and the electronic Scottish Woman-Held Maternity Record (eSWHMR) Project. The Journal of Health Record Information & Management (UK) 44 (2), pp. 21-24
  • Bedford, H (2000) Learning Nursing and Being Different: A Study of Pre-registration Undergraduate Degrees in Nursing (unpublished PhD thesis). Norwich: University of East Anglia
  • Phillips, T, Schostak, J, Bedford, H and Leamon, J (1996) The Evaluation of Pre-registration Undergraduate Degrees in Nursing and Midwifery (The TYDE Project). London: English National Board for Nursing, Midwifery and Health Visiting
  • Phillips, T, Bedford, H, Robinson, J and Schostak, J (1994) Education, Dialogue and Assessment: Creating Partnership for Improving Practice. London: English National Board for Nursing, Midwifery and Health Visiting
  • Phillips, T, Schostak, J, Bedford, H and Robinson, J (1993) The Assessment of Competencies in Nursing and Midwifery Education and Training (The ACE Project). London: English National Board for Nursing, Midwifery and Health Visiting

External activities


  • Fellow of the Royal Colleage of Midwives
  • Member of the UK Lead Midwife for Education (LME) Strategic Reference Group
  • Mentor for the RCM Turning the Tide Mentorship platform
  • Member of the Association of Radical Midwives
  • (2022-23) Midwifery Trustee for the Iolanthe Midwifery Trust 
  • (2015-18) Academic Mentor and Independent Academic Member Mary Seacole Awards Steering Committee

External examiner roles

  • External panel member for the midwifery period review at the University of Huddersfield (Jan 2022)
  • Programme and Module External Examiner for midwifery at the University of Hertfordshire (October 2015 - September 2019)
  • External panel member for the revalidation of PG Cert Learning and Teaching in Higher Education at the University of Cumbria (September 2015)
  • External Examiner for Midwifery at Northumbria University (2011 - 2016)

Editorial duties

  • Reviewer for a range of midwifery journals

Invited talks and conferences

  • Workshop 'Death cafes: key opportunities for learning within midwifery education and midwifery care' 33rd International Confederation of Midwives (ICM) Triennial Congress, Bali, 12th June 2023 with co-presenter Lucy Criddle & co-authors Beth Hardy, Polly Sykes and Drew Atherton.
  • Presentation ‘Midwifery education at the University of York: finding joy and nurturing hope’ Faculty of Science Pedagogy and Practice event, University of York, 12th Jan 2023, with co-presenters Carole Lindsey & Beth Mackellar. 
  • Invited contributor to ‘How effective leadership support sustainable change in the implementation of Baby Friendly’ 24 Nov 2022, Baby Friendly Annual Conference (online).
  • Invited keynote presentation 'Midwifery education in the UK: a time of opportunity and challenge' 2nd International Anatolian Midwives Association Congress ‘Start life with a midwife’, 20th May 2022, Osmangazi University, Eski┼čehir, Turkey (online)
  • Invited presentation for The Girls Network 'A beginners guide to midwifery' 29th March 2022, with co-presenting Mid 20 and Mid 21 student midwives (online)
  • Presentation: 'Developing the 'Future Midwife' curriculum at the University of York: opportunity, challenge & resilience' Faculty of Science pedagogy and practice event, 13th Jan 2022, University of York, with co-presenter Helen Recchia  (online) 
  • Online poster 'Reflecting on learning during the Covid-19 pandemic: a celebration of midwifery resilience' 2nd July 2021, Annual  Learning & Teaching Conference, University of York, with Bex Hudson-Tandy and collaborators.
  • Presentation: 'Leadership in action: Enhancing skills for progression with a teaching and scholarship role'  2021 NFT & CATE Annual Symposium, 21st April 2021 (online)
  • Paper: 'Designing, implementing and evaluating an IPE day for midwifery and social work undergraduates: meaningful interprofessional opportunities to meet, engage and learn' 3rd-5th Sept 2019, NET Conference, University of Keele, with co-authors Alison Smalley, Katie Graham and Carole Lindsey 
  • Workshop: 'Creating partnerships for interprofessional education (IPE): lecturer and student perspectives on an innovative learning event' Annual Learning & Teaching Conference, 29th June 2019, University of York, with co-presenters Katie Graham, Carole Lindsey and Alison Smalley
  • Poster: 'Connecting with compassion: Interprofessional Education (IPE) for undergraduate midwifery and social work students' 11th June 2019, Royal College of Midwives (RCM) Education Conference, Bath, with co-authors Katie Graham, Carole Lindsey and Alison Smalley
  • Presentation: Guest speaker for the Springboard Programme, 13th February and 1st October 2019, University of York
  • Paper: 'Using action research and scholarship for impact: A case study of internationalisation within UK midwifery education' 5th-6th July 2018, Second International Midwifery Education Conference, Bournemouth University,  Bournemouth
  • Poster ‘The Mary Seacole Awards: opportunities for midwifery leadership and professional development to enhance Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) health agendas' 5th - 6th July 2018, Second International Midwifery Education Conference, Bournemouth University,  Bournemouth with co-authors Gergana Nikolova and Janet Fyle
  • Paper:  ‘Amazing but daunting’: Enhancing students’ communication skills via ‘safe’ simulation with professional actors and 360 degree feedback' 1st Nov 2017, Royal College of Midwives (RCM) Annual Conference, Manchester Central, Manchester with co-presenters Rachel Lavelle and Suzanne Stamoulos
  • Poster:  ‘The Mary Seacole Awards: opportunities for midwifery leadership and professional development to enhance Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) health agendas' 31st Oct - 1st Nov 2017, Royal College of Midwives (RCM) Annual Conference, Manchester Central, Manchester with co-authors Gergana Nikolova and Janet Fyle
  • Paper: 'Internationalisation within a UK pre-registration midwifery curriculum: students' voices' 7th June 2017, 'Global Midwifery - celebrating journeys' University of York, York.
  • Workshop: 'Exploring 360 degree feedback to develop undergraduates' communication skills' 21st March 2017, York Learning and Teaching Forum workshop, University of York with co-facilitator Rachel Lavelle
  • Paper: 'Internationalisation within a UK pre-registration midwifery curriculum: students' views on the nature, value and potential for learning', 2nd December 2016, European Midwives Association (EMA) Conference, Queen Elizabeth Conference Centre, London.
  • Paper: 'No passport? No problem! Enhancing international engagement and evidencing learning within midwifery education via a self-reflective audit tool' 5th May 2016. Virtual International Day of the Midwife Conference (online)
  • Paper: 'Embracing opportunities to enhance internationalisation within nursing: promoting and evidencing learning via a self-reflective audit tool' 15th March 2016. Royal College of Nursing Education Forum International Conference and Exhibition, Telford International Centre, Telford
  • Poster: ‘Early Clinical Careers Fellowships (ECCF): nurturing midwifery leadership in Scotland' 3rd July 2015, ‘Innovation in midwifery education…what works?’ Conference, Bournemouth University, with co-authors Sarah Humphrey, Nicola Mackay and Katie Winters
  • Poster: ‘Realising a global midwifery community: Evidencing professional learning to promote internationalisation agendas within Higher Education’. 3rd July 2015, ‘Innovation in midwifery education…what works?’ Conference, Bournemouth University 
  • Paper: ‘Enhancing creativity in midwifery education: developing a practical philosophy of care’. 13th - 14th November 2012, Royal College of Midwives Annual Conference, Brighton, (co-presenter with Dr Annie Lau, Robert Gordon University)
  • Paper: ‘The Scottish Woman-Held Maternity (SWHMR) project’. 30th September 2005, Celebrating Achievements in Enhancing Patient Care Conference, Robert Gordon University
  • Co-organiser: ‘Midwives Promoting Normality’ Conference. 8th September 2005, Robert Gordon University

Helen Bedford

Contact details

Professor Helen Bedford
Professor of Midwifery

Tel: 01904 32(1649)