Navigating pregnancy in a global pandemic, Trinity researchers supporting women

A new online antenatal course, providing evidence-based, trustworthy information for pregnant women across the world has been launched by researchers from the School of Nursing and Midwifery at Trinity College Dublin.

‘Journey to Birth’ prepares women for labour and birth at a time when most face-to-face antenatal courses are cancelled due to COVID-19 related restrictions, leaving women with little access to detailed information and support.

Developed by maternal health researchers, in partnership with midwives and women’s organisations, this free course provides vital information to support women and their partners, on their journey to the birth of their child. The content covers a range of issues, including planning your birth and creating a birth-plan, how to detect early labour, and coping strategies to help during labour and birth to lower stress levels and anxiety.

The ‘Journey to Birth’ project has been led by Professor Cecily Begley, Chair of Nursing and Midwifery, Trinity, in partnership with AIMS Ireland, Cairde and Pavee Point, along with Nadia Arthurs, hypno-birthing midwife.

Professor Cecily Begley, said:

We know from research across the world that women want more information on how to birth their babies the way they want. Many women are unable to access suitable courses and, with the Covid-19 pandemic, existing face-to-face classes have been cancelled. This on-line course provides information on labour and birth, drawn from research evidence and designed to improve the birth experiences of thousands of women throughout Ireland, and the rest of the world. 

Krysia Lynch, Chair of AIMS Ireland, said:

Pregnant people need to be supported in a variety of ways during pregnancy and leading up to labour and birth. Obviously people need clinical and medical support, but pregnancy and birth are not simply medical events, they are transformative life events in which pregnant people are active participants in their care and their experiences. In order to achieve a partnership with their health care providers and also to demystify the process for themselves pregnant people benefit from access highly quality balanced information. This course offers exactly that. It is well researched, evidence-based information seeking to inform and empower. Unlike information provided by medical personal seeking to secure informed compliance, or by private providers seeking to sell a product, this does exactly what it says on the tin; enables a pregnant person to navigate their journey to birth with confidence.

Mary Brigid Collins, Assistant Coordinator, Pavee Point Primary Health Care Project.

The Journey To Birth online course  is a great initiative, particularly for first time mothers during COVID-19 who might need that extra support and information.  Pavee Point was delighted to work with Trinity College in supporting the development of this course – especially as Traveller mums often find it difficult to get accessible information on pregnancy and this impacts on engagement with maternity services. We hope that some Traveller mums-to-be will access this course but recognise that Travellers also have specific needs and require targeted measures like our Pavee Mothers work.

Dr Mairead O’Driscoll, Interim Chief Executive at the Health Research Board (HRB) who funded the research through the HRB Knowledge Exchange Dissemination Scheme (KEDS) said:

This is a great example of a practical solution to sharing evidence quickly at a time when it is badly needed and I believe it will provide a great support to expectant mums and their partners. The HRB knowledge exchange and dissemination awards are designed to ensure research delivers real benefits for people as well as health policy and practice. This project clearly illustrates how that can be done effectively.

 

‘ Journey to Birth’ is a Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) which will run for 6 weeks and registration is free. You can access the course here: www.futurelearn.com/courses/journey-to-birth-tcd

The Journey to Birth course has been funded through the Health Research Board (HRB) Knowledge Exchange Dissemination Scheme (KEDS).