Can we predict which obese pregnant women will have uncomplicated pregnancies and births?

Developing a tool to predict which obese pregnant women are likely to have uncomplicated pregnancies and births, so that these women can then make appropriate decisions about where they give birth.

Start: September 2018

End: August 2019

Pregnant women in the UK can give birth in hospitals, midwife-led birth centres or at home. This allows women to receive care that is centred around their individual needs, dependent on where they live and whether they have any health problems during pregnancy.

There are now four times as many midwife-led birth centres than there were ten years ago – these centres provide a cost-effective option for women who are unlikely to have complications and are more homely than hospital maternity units.

1 in 5 pregnant women are obese

In the UK, one in five pregnant women are obese. Although obesity is linked to complications during pregnancy and birth, many obese pregnant women have straightforward, uncomplicated births.

In a recent study in the UK, six out of ten obese pregnant women with no medical or pregnancy problems gave birth vaginally without complication or intervention. Despite this, many obese women are asked to give birth in hospital, where they can be cared for by doctors and midwives, just in case something goes wrong.

Which women will have an uncomplicated pregnancy and birth

We think it should be possible to work out which otherwise healthy, obese pregnant women are likely to have uncomplicated pregnancies and vaginal births, so that these women can be given the opportunity to give birth in a midwife-led birth centre.

To help do this, we will look at a large nationwide database to see if there are particular characteristics that seem to be linked to uncomplicated pregnancy and birth. We will then develop a computerised tool that can help health professionals offer personalised choices to the obese pregnant women in their care. We believe that this will help target high-risk resources to the women who really need them.

Join the fight for healthy pregnancies and babies

Tommy's funds research across the UK investigating the reasons for miscarriage, stillbirth and premature birth, and fighting to make pregnancy and birth safer. We can keep you updated on ways you can support our work. If you would like to join our fight, click here.

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