Researchers behind a study examining how maternity care has been affected by global pandemics are calling for help from UK mothers who were pregnant in 2009 or 2020.
Academics from Chester Medical School at the University of Chester have created a survey to help them understand the extent to which the swine flu pandemic of the late 2000s and the current COVID-19 pandemic have impacted expectant mothers.
The study will compare how these most recent pandemics have affected the day-to-day living and medical care of pregnant women and look at what changes need to be made to support expecting mothers, their children and partners in such extraordinary circumstances in the future.
Dr Gareth Nye, a Lecturer in Physiology with expertise in pregnancy and postnatal medicine, said: “For pregnant women going through this current crisis, we’ve seen changes to every aspect of their care, from scan attendances to limited birth partners and ultimately routine checks and care being transferred to online or phone consultations.
“We don’t yet fully understand the impact these changes have made to women, as well as the children and partners involved, and it’s crucial now to collate this information so that lessons can be learned and potential failings can be addressed which could mitigate long-term damage.
“We also want to find out what lessons have been learned from previous outbreaks and pandemics and how our maternity services have adapted.”
The brief online questionnaire will cover antenatal care received by participants during these pandemic periods and explore any additional care required for those diagnosed with common comorbidities, such as gestational diabetes, as it these conditions require more interaction with medical professionals.
It will also explore the care received during labour, delivery and the post-natal period.
Dr Nye, whose third child was born during the COVID-19 lockdown, added: “This will allow us to examine the extent to which the pandemics may have altered the scope of home visits from professionals and the management or choice of labour.
“The aim of this study is to highlight the areas that we need to be paying attention to moving forward. For example, if health visitors and community midwives are not able to visit parents after birth because they are told it is not safe to do so, where might the maternity care be falling? Are we not picking up early childhood conditions or depressions that would usually be picked up and if that’s the case, how can we make sure we are able to do this moving forward.”
Survey participants need to be over the age of 18 and have been pregnant either during the swine flu pandemic in 2009 and/or during the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020.
To take part in the survey, visit https://forms.gle/zyCRnUawKjC5xjZE8
Pictured - Dr Gareth Nye, Lecturer in Physiology with expertise in pregnancy and postnatal medicine from Chester Medical School.