Midwife Helen Barton tells us about the Action funded CONCEIVE project, where a team of medics researching pre-eclampsia are tracking hundreds of women before, during and after pregnancy…
Helen with Dr Fung Lin Foo and a little participant in the CONCEIVE study
What inspired you to investigate this particular area?
Pre-eclampsia is a fairly common condition in pregnancy where women develop high blood pressure and protein in the urine, in some instances it leads to the need for preterm delivery for the safety of either the mum or baby. It is still not known what causes some women to develop this condition. It is believed it could be due to the placenta as pre-eclampsia can also restrict the growth of the baby, but emerging research suggests that it could be linked to how the mother's heart and blood circulation responds to pregnancy.
What does Action funding for this study mean to you?
It allows us to investigate full-time other possible causes of this condition by assessing the changes in women’s cardiovascular system during each trimester, pre and post pregnancy. The full-time hours make a valuable difference as we get to provide a point of contact and comfort to women alongside their routine pregnancy care, some of whom find the extra checks relieve their anxieties, as they may already have experienced pre-eclampsia personally or via a family member or friend.
What does a typical day look like for you … or is every day different?
Each day is different but includes recruitment via updating our CONCEIVE Facebook page, speaking at conferences and Patient and Public Information sessions; replying to queries from women involved with or interested in becoming a part of the study; meeting with women who have joined the study to perform cardiovascular tests and scans of their babies; and processing samples in the laboratory and managing the data collected.
Can you tell us a bit about your team?
The team is made up of obstetricians and midwives who have a wealth of experience and remain practising in all aspects of maternity care, including fetal and maternal medicine, as well as labour and inpatient care.
Who’s your research hero, and why?
As I am new to the work world of research, my current heroes are the colleagues I work with. The dedication they give to their research to improve our current knowledge and clinical care for the benefit of the women and families is tireless.
As a charity, Action began in 1952 with our founder’s quest to find a cure for polio. What led you to a career in medical research?
It is crucial to our day to day clinical practice, allowing us to provide the best, evidence-based care we can. Having been a maternal and fetal medicine midwife prior to working in research, I was lucky enough to see first-hand the process from research idea to introduction in routine care, and the positive impact that research provided for women and their families by allowing them another and, for some, more preferential form of routine care.
Action’s loyal and lovable mascot Paddington Bear™ is very fond of marmalade sandwiches. What’s your favourite snack?
Sadly I'm not partial to any guilt free snacks. A cream slice is always a favourite treat!
Tell us something that will surprise us!
When I was a teenager I was one of the top ten fastest 800m runners in the country.
To find out more about the CONCEIVE project, take a look at our project summary here; women who live in London and who would like to take part are warmly invited to contact Helen and the research team by texting 07714051359.