The health of pregnant women has quite rightly made headlines since the beginning of the pandemic; how dangerous is the virus for mums-to-be, and how can healthcare professionals keep them safe?
To answer this, hospitals have been collecting information on pregnant women hospitalised with severe COVID-19 as part of the UK Obstetric Surveillance System (UKOSS), the largest data collection of its kind, since March 2020.
So far, the study has collected anonymous information on more than 7000 women admitted to 194 UK hospitals with obstetric units, what care they received and how effective it was.
During this time, these women have had different birth experiences – some had their babies delivered early for the sake of their health, for example, while others stayed pregnant.
These experiences will also have been affected by important factors such as age, ethnicity and weight. Other circumstances – such as how far along in the pregnancy they were and whether they’ve had other pregnancy complications – will have affected this too.
In her study Professor Marian Knight, Professor of Maternal and Child Population Health at the University of Oxford, will compare these different birth journeys and the treatment women received to find out what care is best.
In their research, Professor Knight and her team will see what kind of respiratory support women who had their babies delivered early needed, and how effective it was. They will also consider what worked best for women who stayed pregnant during their time in intensive care.
They will see whether those needs changed between before and after birth as well – and how helpful it was to deliver babies prematurely in some cases.
Using this newfound knowledge, Professor Knight will be able to tell which treatments kept women and their babies the safest, and update guidance for healthcare professionals with this information.
This way, midwives and obstetricians will have a better idea of exactly what to do when a pregnant woman is hospitalised with severe COVID-19.
Thanks to Professor Knight’s work, more pregnant women who develop severe COVID-19 and their babies will be happy, healthy and safe.