Karen Henry

Lecturer in Midwifery

+44 (0)1473 338480
School of Nursing, Midwifery and Public Health
Karen Henry staff profile photo

Karen is delighted to return to the University of Suffolk as a lecturer in midwifery, where she studied for her BSc Hons degree and qualified as a midwife in 2018. Since then, she has practised as a midwife locally in various settings, such as a midwifery-led birthing unit, consultant-led labour ward, maternity triage, and the antenatal and postnatal ward. Karen also has experience being a link midwife for autism and learning disabilities and is a mental health first aider. 

As a midwifery student, Karen participated in an interprofessional learning module. She created a communication tool for autistic women to enable them to share their support needs with maternity staff. In 2018 Karen was nominated for, and awarded a place on, the Florence Nightingale Foundation leadership scholarship. The scholarship enabled her to extend her original work, creating a series of support plans which have been used in the local hospital since 2020.  

The plans now form part of the NHS England Maternity Transformations project, which aims to reduce inequity and inequality in healthcare settings. Karen wrote and took part in filming a training video to enhance staff knowledge and hopes the plans will support autistic women to navigate maternity services, plus equip them with ideas for reasonable adjustments to make clinical environments accessible for them. The plans are also being modified to support non-English speaking women. 

The drive to improve maternity experiences for autistic people motivated Karen to study for an MA in Education at the Manchester Metropolitan University whilst working as a midwife. Ultimately, Karen envisages a maternity service where women feel safe and supported enough to thrive and embrace parenthood and where maternity staff feel confident to support them in this. 

Karen is also a founding member of a maternity autism research group which is a collective of autistic researchers, university lecturers, authors, mothers and midwives. They aim to create a website to showcase the latest research and provide resources to aid care provision for professionals, plus resources and information specifically for autistic people. She is currently co-writing a book for health professionals and would like to study at PhD level within the next few years. 

Karen says that within all her roles and responsibilities, women-centred care is always at the heart of everything she does, fuelled by her values of kindness, openness, honesty and provision of excellent care. Her love of learning enhances her ability to provide evidence-based care around the latest research. She, therefore, feels excited to support the next generation of midwives, to teach them the art and science of midwifery so they can give excellent quality, safe and effective midwifery care to women and embrace such values for themselves. 

Karen is new to her role of lecturer in midwifery. She is to provide learning, teaching and assessment support to full-time and part-time students and to engage in scholarly activity and research. In addition, she will take an active role in the wider work and administration of the school. 

She has also been given the task of leading and teaching the anatomy and physiology module from May 2023. Her role in this will be to seek support in writing and producing the module plus writing an examination. 

In 2019, Karen was awarded a place on the Florence Nightingale Foundation leadership scholarship where she was supported to develop a service improvement (QI) project. Karen created a series of communication support plans for autistic women accessing maternity care which are now being used in Ipswich Hospital. 

She has since completed an MA in autism spectrum conditions which has led her to her current work with the local CCG to produce a training film to teach maternity staff about the needs of autistic women. 

Karen is a founding member of the Maternity Autism Research Group, where she works with a collective of academic researchers, authors, and maternity specialists to create an online autism training package for maternity professionals and resources for autistic people accessing maternity care.   

Karen is also an advisory panel member for Dr Aimee Grant at Swansea University and her research ‘Autism from menstruation to menopause: participatory community led qualitative longitudinal research to understand autistic reproductive experiences throughout the life course to improve healthcare services’. Karen was involved in the initial bid for funding and the project was awarded 2.4 million pounds from the Wellcome Trust.  

Karen is currently co-writing a book for Jessica Kingsley Publishers with two autistic researchers from Swansea University. The aim of the book is to increase autism knowledge and understanding for health professionals to improve the autistic birth experience.  



2022 – Provided midwifery and pregnancy consultation in the writing of: Clarke, H. (2022). Supporting Spectacular Girls – A practical guide to developing autistic girls’ well-being and self-esteem. London: Jessica Kingsley Publishers. 


Henry, K. (2017). ‘Empowering women with autism’. Midwifery Matters. December 2017, 155, pp.10-11.  

Henry, K. (2017). ‘Anxiety, stress and depression in pregnancy’. St Edmundsbaby Magazine. Spring/Summer 2017, p.10.  

Henry, K. (2014). ‘From fear and Flight to Five children – My Story. Your Autism Journal. 48(4), Winter 2014. Pp.16-18. 

Karen has also written three articles for the Practising Midwife Journal – two have been accepted and she is awaiting dates for publication.  

Other media

2022 – Date to be confirmed – Educational film for maternity staff providing maternity care for autistic women and the practical reasonable adjustments which can make environments accessible. Suffolk and Essex CCG Transformation project.  

Strudwick, R., Hadwen, H., Butler, J and Henry, K. (2018). Students initiating service improvements. Conference poster. https://naep-uk.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/07/Dr-Ruth-Strudwick-Hollie-Hadwen-Jo-Butler-and-Karen-Henry.pdf 

In 2021, Karen provided midwifery and pregnancy consultation in the PhD research for: Hampton, S. (2020). Autistic mothers and the perinatal period: maternal experiences and infant development. PhD. The University of Cambridge.  

2018 - Registered Midwife - Nursing and Midwifery Council