New pregnancy health campaign

Posted by vh58 at Apr 27, 2017 02:31 PM |
The ‘Always ask’ campaign centres around two animations developed out of a project led by Dr Nicola Mackintosh

Tommy’s, King’s College London and Babycentre are launching a new campaign, ‘Always ask’, to empower pregnant women to overcome fears about speaking to professionals about health concerns.

The ‘Always ask’ campaign centres around two animations (a longer and shorter version) developed out of a project led by Dr Nicola Mackintosh, Associate Professor in Social Science Applied to Health in the SAPPHIRE group (formerly a King’s Improvement Science fellow at King’s College London). ‘The Re-Assure project’, which builds on Professor Jane Sandall’s research, aimed to enable women to share their safety concerns about life threatening illness in order to facilitate a maternity response. The project brought together women, 3rd sector organisations and health professionals, a creative writer and a digital artist to create an animation that follows a pregnant woman through her pregnancy journey.

The campaign, which has been endorsed by RCM, RCOG and NHSE, aims to reduce the number of women who end up with serious pregnancy complications or loss that could have been prevented. ‘Always ask’ challenges ingrained social and cultural attitudes that currently dissuade women from seeking professional help and gives guidance how women can present to, get listened to and taken seriously by healthcare professionals.

The campaign centres around two animations that have been voiced by midwife Clemmie Hooper, or @MotherofDaughters as she is known to her hundreds of thousands of Instagram followers.

Dr Nicola Mackintosh, Associate Professor in Social Science Applied to Health in the SAPPHIRE group at the University of Leicester and the lead academic on the Re-Assure project said, ‘Our research has shown that women’s innate knowledge of their changing bodies and sense that something is wrong can play an important role in early detection and recognition of complications in pregnancy and the postnatal period. Many women who seek help for concerns do not present with ‘classic’ warning signs and as a result, struggle to have their concerns taken seriously. We need to shift from seeing this process as technical (teaching women about signs and symptoms of potential complications) to socio-cultural (teaching women to tune into their changing bodies, to trust their instincts and to feel confident enough to share any concerns about their physical, mental or social wellbeing with staff). Staff also need to give women permission to share their concerns by actively asking if they are worried and taking their concerns seriously. Friends and family members can also help women get the help they need and play an important advocacy role.’

Jane Brewin, CEO of Tommy’s, said, ‘Our experience from talking to women is that many of them either don’t voice their concerns at all or do it in the last few minutes of an appointment, and they ask in a tentative way because they think that they are being a nuisance. We want to reassure pregnant women that they are not wasting time when they speak to a health professional about a concern. Women’s knowledge about changes in their condition is a crucial part of their maternity care. A safer maternity care system has at its core empowered women who are enabled to speak up.’

Clemmie Hooper, celebrity midwife and mum and supporter of Tommy’s, who voiced the campaign, said, ‘This campaign is so important. As a midwife, I would always rather someone come and see me with their concerns ten times and it be a false alarm, rather than miss someone the one time they really need to be seen. I’m proud to be working with Tommy’s, King’s and BabyCentre on this campaign – together, I hope we can encourage lots more pregnant women to trust their instincts and speak up.’



Further information

The Always Ask animation can be viewed here:

And the follow-up film Tips on Speaking Up in Pregnancy can be viewed here:

The film was developed with the help of 34 women who had previously experienced serious complications in pregnancy or birth. It was made with the support of a £10,000 grant from King’s College London’s Cultural Institute, and co-produced by the women, Nicola Mackintosh, KIS fellow James Harris, creative writer Claire Collison and animator Patrick Beirne. Professor Jane Sandall was also involved. Fifteen staff – midwives and obstetricians – from maternity services at Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust contributed.

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