Blog, news, and updates

The return of the postnatal 6 week check

Dr Stephanie de Giorgio is a GP and the Perinatal Mental Health Lead for Kent and Medway. She is also the GP Champion Programme Lead for NHSE. In this blog to mark Maternal Mental Health Awareness Week 2020, she reflects on the enormous efforts taken to raise awareness of perinatal mental illness and get the 6 week maternal postnatal check back into GP contracts- a huge victory for women and those that care for them.

Pregnancy and Risk: A social work perspective

The WRISK Project regularly asks contributors to share their perspectives on a range of issues related to risk communication in pregnancy to further understanding of the challenges faced by scientists, clinicians, policy makers, and of course women themselves...

Risk and disability: the human rights view

We all know that the words ‘risk’ and ‘pregnancy’ seem to go hand in hand. We know too that women are entitled to personalised discussions about the risks and benefits that are material to them to enable them to make choices about their care. But what about those situations where the risk information might be – or is perceived as being – more complex?

Rebecca Brione is Research and Partnerships Officer at Birthrights. She oversees Birthrights’ research programme, with a focus on multiple disadvantage, mental capacity and disability.  Outside of her work for Birthrights, Rebecca has a particular interest in reproductive justice and autonomy. 

My HG Story

The WRISK project regularly asks contributors to share their perspectives on a range of issues related to risk communication in pregnancy to further understanding of the challenges faced by scientists, clinicians, policy makers, and of course women themselves when...

Link between maternal obesity and childhood leukaemia – a cause for alarm?

A study published last week in the American Journal of Epidemiology reported that children born to obese mothers were 57% more likely to develop leukaemia before the age of 14. The study was picked up by the medical and mainstream press – with the Daily Mail take here a fair representation of the general coverage.

The coverage highlights three common issues concerning reporting of research relating to risk in pregnancy, each of which is being considered as part of the WRISK research. 

If you are a bigger Mum or Mum-to-Be who is looking for information and support, please get in touch with Big Birthas. 

WRISK comment on 2019 NMPA Organisational Report

Today marks the release of the second organisational report of the National Maternity and Perinatal Audit (NMPA). The report maps service provision as of January 2019 across England, Scotland, and Wales, including an overview of maternity and neonatal care settings, the availability of services, staffing levels, and how these have changed since the last audit in 2017.

The WRISK Project: we want to hear from you

WRISK is launching a survey which is open to all women who have been pregnant in the last five years regardless of their experiences of pregnancy or how a pregnancy may have ended. The survey asks about risk-related topics, how women feel about advice they have received, and any areas that could do with greater attention or better communication. We are particularly interested in hearing from women whose voices are often not heard- this may include BAME women, women in receipt of welfare benefits, and both younger and older women.

“Someone to talk to who understands”: How do we support women with long-term health conditions with decisions about starting a family?

In our latest piece, Rhiannon Phillips discusses some of the challenges that women living with long-term health conditions sometimes face when thinking about starting a family. Rhiannon is a Health Psychologist based at the PRIME Centre Wales, Cardiff University. Her research focuses on improving the health and well-being of women of reproductive age and children, using a variety of approaches that aim to build skills, knowledge, and confidence. 

Community midwifery: communicating risk from the front line

In this blog, Nikki Lacey takes us to the front line of community midwifery and shares the art of respectfully communicating risk whilst under immense time pressure. Nikki trained as a nurse, qualifying as a midwife in 2000 and later undertaking a Masters degree. She currently works in the Vale Parenting Service as a Specialist Midwife for the under 19’s in the Vale of Glamorgan, Wales.

Does oral sex prevent miscarriage?

In the latest WRISK guest blog, Katy Lindemann explores a controversial new study from researchers at the University of Leiden, published in the Journal of Reproductive Immunology. Katy is writer-in-residence at @FertilityFest and the founder of the Uber Barrens Club. She is currently writing a book about the reality of infertility and pregnancy loss, and tweets at @uberbarrensclub.

Born pre-polluted: mothers and environmental risk

In our latest guest blog, Norah MacKendrick and Kate Cairns share findings from their research looking at the individualisation of environmental risks during pregnancy. While their work focuses on the US, there are parallels with how risk and risk mitigation is approached in the UK when it comes to environmental hazards. Recent UK media reports on studies looking at the impact of factors such as air pollution and plastics on pregnancies have included suggestions that pregnant women avoid main roads, time their pregnancies to avoid the most polluted times of year and try to limit their exposure to chemicals found in everyday personal care products like shampoo. 

Mental health vs. pregnancy: coping with simplistic and conflicting medical advice on antidepressants

The WRISK project regularly asks contributors to share their perspectives on a range of issues related to risk communication in pregnancy to further understanding of the challenges faced by scientists, clinicians, policy makers and of course women themselves when trying to navigate risk messaging. These represent individual and personal viewpoints and are aimed at encouraging reflection and discussion, rather than reaching conclusions.

Here, Clare Foster writes about her experiences of coping with conflicting medical advice on antidepressants and pregnancy.

It’s the mother! Is there a strong scientific rationale for studying pregnant mothers so intensively?

Dr Gemma Sharp, University of Bristol, writes the inaugural WRISK guest blog.

“For many years, researchers have been studying how our early life experiences, including those that happen before we are born, can affect our lifelong health. In an article we wrote last year, Debbie Lawlor (University of Bristol), Sarah Richardson (Harvard University) and I show that most of these studies have focused on the characteristics and behaviours of mothers around the time of pregnancy.

We argue this is because people assume that mothers, through their connection to the developing fetus in the womb, are the single most important factor in shaping a child’s health. In our article, we question the truth behind this assumption.”

Communicating health risks: whose responsibility is it?

Alexandra Freeman and David Spiegelhalter have recently published an article on the responsibilities that researchers, journalists, and press officers have to accurately communicate health risks. They claim that “research that is poorly communicated or presented is as potentially damaging as research that is poorly conducted or fraudulent”. This blog looks at the main points raised in the paper, and how they relate to the WRISK project.

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