The Maternity Review: a blueprint for positive change

The Maternity Review recommends that pregnancy services in England must become safer, more personalised, kinder, professional and more family-friendly.

By Jane Brewin, CEO, Tommy’s

We welcome the publication of the Maternity Review, which brings much needed vision to the provision of services to pregnant women in the UK, and touches on many of the topics that Tommy’s has campaigned for and worked on for years.

Preventing risks in pregnancy

Some of the biggest risk factors for poor birth outcomes are preventable. Smoking is the single biggest identifiable risk factor for poor birth outcomes. Obesity is also increasingly linked to risk of complications during pregnancy and health problems for the child. Empowering women to change these behaviours can make pregnancy safer. Therefore investment in pregnancy information and ensuring women have access to this information is more important than ever.

Tommy’s is leading the way here with a world class, midwife-led pregnancy information service that reaches 300k pregnant women a month and provides comprehensive information and advice on all the issues that could result in poor birth outcomes. We will also continue to invest in health campaigns on the six areas that we think will have most impact on pregnancy health: smoking, nutrition, weight management, mental health, exercise and knowing the symptoms that necessitate a call to a midwife/doctor.

We welcome the focus on continuity of care and perinatal mental health

Of the key priorities that are highlighted in the review, we particularly welcome the calls for continuity of care and more support for women who experience mental health issues during pregnancy.

Continuity of care, with a woman seeing ideally one trusted midwife through her pregnancy and in labour, is an acknowledged way of improving pregnancy outcomes.

Perinatal mental health issues affect up to 20% women but while a woman who is pregnant is more likely to experience mental health issues she is less likely to receive help than a non-pregnant woman. This has to change. Mental health issues during pregnancy can easily develop into postnatal depression, with potentially disastrous consequences for the family. Spotting these cases and treating a woman effectively during pregnancy can improve outcomes for mums and their babies.

Miscarriage and pre-term birth notable in their absence

Although much emphasis has been placed on safer births and choice of where to give birth, miscarriage is barely mentioned in this report. With a huge amount of women going through this trauma (1 in 4), we feel this is a notable absence. Tommy’s would like to have seen greater emphasis on how to reduce miscarriage, and how to care for women who have gone through it.

Tommy's centre highlighted as best practice

We were pleased to see our Maternal and Fetal Research Centre in St Mary’s Hospital in Manchester highlighted as a best practice model in identifying and preventing stillbirth, as well providing an excellent model for the care of parents who experience stillbirth and those pregnant again afterwards.

The best practice care for high risk pregnancies that Tommy’s research team established in St Mary’s is now being extended across the North West region. Combining much-needed research with improving clinical care and support which drives better outcomes for mums and their babies has been shown in all three of Tommy’s research centres to be a key way of making pregnancy safer.

For further information or comment from Tommy’s, please contact 

Hannah Blake | [email protected] | 020 3701 7666 | 07761 039361

Read more about our work

  • Three pregnant women sitting in a row

    Research into health and wellbeing in pregnancy

    In addition to our core work on miscarriage, stillbirth, preterm birth and pre-eclampsia, Tommy’s also funds projects that research the effects of lifestyle and well-being on pregnancy and on the later life of the child.

  • Team of researchers

    Research into stillbirth

    When a baby dies after 24 weeks of gestation, it is called a stillbirth. Around 2.6 million babies are stillborn each year. Tommy’s research is helping to change this.

  • Nurse monitoring premature baby in hospital

    Research into premature birth

    Around 60,000 babies are born prematurely each year in the UK. These babies are vulnerable – they are born before they have grown to cope with the outside world. Tommy’s is saving lives by researching how we can prevent premature births by finding those at risk early on.

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