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IOE pregnancy programme shortlisted for prestigious award

8 February 2017

Pregnant woman

An antenatal scheme that involves researchers from the UCL Institute of Education (IOE) has been shortlisted for a national award.

Led by the University of East London, the scheme aims to improve access, value and experience of antenatal care for socially disadvantaged and ethnically diverse communities who experience some of the worst birth and infant outcomes in the UK.

The scheme, Research for Equitable Antenatal Care and Health (REACH), has been co-designed with local communities and aims to increase the awareness of early uptake of antenatal care.

Through pioneering a new group antenatal care service called 'Pregnancy Circles', the scheme gives expectant mothers the chance to meet in groups and share pregnancy experiences with the same two midwives each session. This differs from the traditional system of seeing any midwife at a hospital antenatal clinic.

Preliminary results from test antenatal care groups have already indicated promising outcomes. Data emerging from the participants reveals high levels of service satisfaction, participant empowerment, woman-centered care and social connectedness, as well as midwife learning and satisfaction.

One participant commented: "[The Circle] has equipped me, I'm definitely a lot more ready for the labour than if I had not been here. We've been told why things happen… so it's given me more of an insight, and as a first-time mum it's nice to have that understanding."

IOE researchers Meg Wiggins and Mary Sawtell have been heavily involved with all three strands of the scheme. As co-investigator, Ms Wiggins has reviewed the best global evidence on group antenatal care. Ms Sawtell has managed the pilot trial of the Pregnancy Circles.

It is hoped that the project, which is funded by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Programme Grants for Applied Research (PGfAR) Programme, will lead to improved antenatal care for pregnant women living in areas with high levels of poverty and high ethnic diversity.

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