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Researcher determined to improve postnatal care for women

Researcher determined to improve postnatal care for women

The first non-medic Principal Investigator at Croydon Health Services NHS Trust, south London, is determined to improve outcomes for women who have just had babies.

Consultant Midwife Gina Short, who has been in the profession for 22 years, believes care should be optimised to be personalised to each woman’s needs in the postnatal period, which is defined as care in the first six-to-eight weeks after birth.

She leads a team of four midwives and is investigating the effects of high blood pressure in pregnancy on women’s overall health and wellbeing on the Blood Pressure in the Postnatal Period (BPiPP) study.

Gina, who is in her first research role, said the results of BPiPP could be used to tailor investment in community midwifery services to help tackle pre-existing conditions in pregnant women to prevent issues after birth.

She said: "Research is fundamentally important to midwifery and obstetrics, studies such as BPiPP help to ensure we can improve overall care and outcomes for our patients. I was keen to take on the opportunity of becoming Principal Investigator on this study and am really enjoying the role. I attribute all of our successes to my fantastic team of research midwives who are the backbone of our service.

“This study is about identifying health issues that affect women during the postnatal period so we can tailor our services to those who need them most. We have already identified through BPiPP women with pre-existing mental health issues who we are now able to provide extra support to.

“CRN South London plays a vital role in supporting the delivery of research in this region and I cannot thank them enough for giving me the opportunity to work with the network’s Lead Research Midwife Emma Wayman, who is fantastic.”

The BPiPP study is sponsored by King’s College London, funded by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) and is supported by the NIHR CRN South London.

Croydon University Hospital has recruited a total of 76 participants to BPiPP so far in the 2019-2020 financial year. The national target is to recruit a total of 1,000 people.

CRN South London's Reproductive Health and Childbirth Co-Specialty Research Leads Dr Annette Briley and Professor Laura Magee said:

“The Blood Pressure in the Postnatal Period study has been one of the first studies to recruit across south London and it has successfully recruited in all maternity services.

“Many women who have issues with blood pressure during pregnancy will go on to develop hypertension, providing evidence based information on how best to manage blood pressure after it has been high in pregnancy could protect women from related health issues later on in life.

"Evidence from research in the postnatal period will enable healthcare professionals to better plan and manage care for women and their families, which could impact the wellbeing of the family unit long into the future."