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South London research midwives do their bit for COVID-19 pregnancy research

A pair of research midwives have spoken about how they broke down barriers to recruit pregnant women to the Preg-CoV trial in south London.

The trial, supported by the National Institute for Health and Care Research Clinical Research Network South London, aims to discover the best way to administer COVID-19 vaccines during pregnancy. St George's University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust needs to recruit more volunteers for Preg-CoV.

Research Midwives Vanessa Greening and Emma Eccleston work at the Vaccine Institute at St George's, University Of London, based on the same site as St George's Hospital. Vanessa said their job is to provide reassurance, support and to give pregnant women the most up-to-date information about the COVID-19 vaccines. She said:

"We explain to all of the women that everything in the NHS is based on evidence from research and that we can't advance medicine without their support. The women appreciated that we could provide them with a range of authoritative resources about the trial and the safety and effectiveness of the COVID-19 vaccines.

"Some women were quite fearful of coming in for face-to-face visits in the hospital during the pandemic or of having their COVID-19 vaccines. We listened to those concerns, provided reassurance about our safety measures and highlighted the extra support and monitoring they would receive while participating in the trial.

"I get satisfaction from working with our women over a more extended period. As a team, we can get to know them, develop those relationships and ensure they receive the best possible experience. Our work is very rewarding as we get to help so many people."

Emma said having the trust and confidence of all of the volunteers taking part in Preg-CoV has been integral to the delivery of the trial. She said:

"As a team, we've tried to embed research throughout the pregnancy journey. We've emphasised to all women involved in Preg-CoV that research is a very normal part of healthcare and that it is integral to discovering new treatments, vaccines and diagnostics that will benefit everyone.

"We've talked to the women one-on-one about research after their appointment or during a scan so that they can meet us in person and we can answer any questions or concerns they may have there and then. We also check in with the women and their babies at the hospital or via a home visit.

"I and all of the midwives want to thank everyone who has taken part in the Preg-CoV trial. We couldn't do any of this without your support!"

Volunteers are required to complete a health questionnaire, provide blood samples from themselves and their baby and attend regular follow-up appointments with a midwife while taking part in the Preg-CoV trial.

You can find out more about the Preg-CoV trial on the St George's Vaccine Institute website.