Research in Maternity

The Reproductive Health Research Teams across Wessex are committed to improving the care we give to women, birthing people and their families. Research changes lives, saves lives and improves outcomes. We may offer you the opportunity to get involved in clinical research studies within the maternity services.

Through research we can find out:

  • Which treatments are most effective to benefit the birthing parent and/or baby
  • Develop the advice and information we offer to help informed decision making
  • Assess what is acceptable to those in our care and identify where specialist support is needed

In hospital units with high research activity, the clinical outcomes are better.1,,2 Our research is approved and funded by the National Institute of Health Research (NIHR) which means it is ethically and scientifically sound and has the highest standards possible for patient safety.

Being involved in research is entirely voluntary. If you are approached about taking part in a study, you will be given written information and plenty of time to decide. A dedicated team of research midwives and nurses are available to answer any questions you may have and to ensure you understand what would be involved. Some studies, but not all, require extra visits to hospital but this will be discussed when you are deciding to take part. Whenever possible we will try to fit research around your normal care to make it as easy as possible for you to take part.

Please see below the current research studies open across the region. If you are interested in taking part in any of our research studies, we would be very happy to hear from you and would welcome any enquiries. Please see the contact list for your local research team.


  1. Jonker L, Fisher SJ, Dagnan D. Patients admitted to more research-active hospitals have more confidence in staff and are better informed about their condition and medication: results from a retrospective cross-sectional study.
  2. J Eval Clin Pract. 2020 Feb, 26(1):203-8. 2. Nijjar SK, D'amico MI, Wimalaweera NA, Cooper NA, Zamora J, Khan KS. Participation in clinical trials improves outcomes in women's health: a systematic review and meta-analysis. BJOG. 2017 May; 124(6): 863- 871.

High blood pressure

Giant PANDA – Pregnancy ANtihypertensive Drugs: which Agent is best?

Around 10% of pregnant women and people in the UK have high blood pressure in pregnancy. If high blood pressure is not managed well, it can lead to serious problems for the woman and baby. The Giant PANDA study is looking at the two most commonly used medications (labetalol and nifedipine) to treat high blood pressure in pregnancy. Doctors in the NHS usually choose one or the other as their preferred treatment. We want to find out which is best for pregnant women and their baby (or babies).

Available at: Southampton, Bournemouth and Poole, Portsmouth, Salisbury and coming soon to Dorchester

Baby PANDA - Bp response Assessment BY Pregnancy ANtihypertensive Drug treAtment:

(Mechanism of Action of Health Intervention)

The BABY PANDA study will look closely at the short-term changes in blood pressure in the hours after pregnant women take their blood pressure tablets. We will also measure levels of certain markers in the blood and urine. We want to use this information to work out why some medication may suit some women more than others.

Available at: Bournemouth and Poole and coming soon to Dorchester

CaPE - Calcium Supplementation for Prevention of Pre-Eclampsia in High Risk Women

Most women with pre-eclampsia generally have good outcomes but some women can become very unwell, with complications affecting the liver, kidneys, and brain. There are also risks for the baby with some needing an early delivery, having problems with growth, and even dying before birth. The CaPE trial wants to look at whether taking dietary calcium supplementation throughout pregnancy lowers the risk of developing pre-eclampsia and its complications.

Available at : Dorchester, Bournemouth and Poole, Portsmouth and coming soon to Southampton

UBaP - Understanding Blood Pressure Changes after Pregnancy

This research aims to investigate how women’s blood pressure responds after birth and assess the time it takes to return to normal ranges. This will highlight how many women continue to experience high blood pressure after they have given birth and how often a woman’s General Practitioner (GP) will need to monitor their blood pressure in the immediate few weeks after birth. This research will identify gaps in the care of women in the postnatal period and use the information to help maternity care services provide better care so that women can lead healthier lives and reduce their risk of heart disease. Available at: Bournemouth and Poole

Multiple Pregnancy

TTTS – Twin to Twin Transfusion Syndrome registry

The TTTS registry aims to record all complicated monochorionic and dichorionic multiple pregnancies in the UK, their treatments, and outcomes. The registry also records natural history of uncomplicated monochorionic twins and triplets. The UK registry will provide a tool to improve clinical practice and therefore patient care. As well as monitoring the birth outcomes of TTTS, the database will also help monitor the survival rate and neurodevelopmental outcomes of the condition, which are currently unknown.

Available at: Dorchester, Bournemouth and Poole, Portsmouth, Southampton and Salisbury

FERN: Intervention or Expectant Management for Early Onset Selective Fetal Growth Restriction in Monochorionic Twin Pregnancy

The UK has approximately 11,000 twin pregnancies per year with a third of these sharing a placenta (monochorionic (MC) twins). MC twin pregnancy presents extra risks to both the mother and the babies, with some babies dying during pregnancy or shortly after birth. Often this is due to a complication called selective Fetal Growth Restriction (sFGR), where one twin is smaller than the other. sFGR affects one in seven MC twin pregnancies in the UK although we know less about pregnancies where this happens early (before 24 weeks). At present there is a lack of evidence to tell us the best way of managing sFGR in MC twin pregnancies. Currently, women and their partners are offered different management options depending on where they live and who they see. It is also clear that there are gaps in what we know about sFGR.

Available at: Southampton and coming soon at Bournemouth and Poole


A Randomised Placebo-Controlled Trial of Antenatal Corticosteroids for Planned Birth in Twins: STOPPIT-3 This trial aims to find out if the drug antenatal corticosteroids (ACS) given to women with a twin pregnancy prior to a planned birth of twins after 35 weeks of pregnancy reduces breathing difficulties in the twin babies.

Available at: Southampton

Other studies you may be interested in

Newborn Screening for Spinal Muscular Atrophy (NBS for SMA)

Babies born in the Wessex region are eligible to participate in a pilot study that tests for Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA), a rare disease that typically occurs in 1 in 10,000 babies.

Early detection and treatment are critical in the management of SMA.

In the first week of life, all newborns are checked for treatable conditions as part of their standard newborn screening (NBS).

SMA is not currently screened for, this pilot can test babies for SMA using their standard NBS blood test. This means no extra blood samples will be needed.

To register your interest please click here:

Would you like your baby to receive an extra, free test for spinal muscular atrophy (SMA)? Click Here

Available at Southampton, Bournemouth and Poole, Portsmouth and Salisbury

OBS UK study

Heavy bleeding during and after birth is the most common problem when giving birth to a baby. We have created a new way of managing heavy bleeding during and after childbirth (called the OBS UK care bundle). This care bundle helps to recognise bleeding early and to standardise the treatment of heavy bleeding during childbirth. If the OBS UK care bundle is shown to make a big improvement to outcomes, then it may advise the new UK standard guidance for dealing with heavy bleeding during and after childbirth.

Local participating units: Southampton, Portsmouth, Salisbury


Observational study of pregnancy hyperglycaemia, endocrine causes, lipids, insulin and autoimmunity The aim of this study is to identify pathophysiological differences in women with GDM (Gestational diabetes) by measuring autoantibodies, insulin and hormone concentrations, and to assess how these differences might affect pregnancy outcomes.

Available at Salisbury


Nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) for preloading, lapse recovery and smoking reduction: impact on smoking in pregnancy: Open-label randomised controlled trial

Available at Bournemouth and Poole


Emergency Cervical Cerclage to Prevent Miscarriage and Preterm Birth: a Randomized Controlled Trial

Sometimes the neck of the womb can start to open early and the bag of waters (amniotic sac containing amniotic fluid) around the baby can come through the neck of womb. If this happens too early in a pregnancy (before 28 weeks), there are a limited number of treatment options. Healthcare teams do not know which one is best for mother and baby. These include expectant management combined sometimes with antibiotics, progesterone, medicines to stop the womb contracting or emergency cervical cerclage.

Available at Bournemouth and Poole

Preterm Clinical Database Network

The UK Preterm Clinical Network (UKPCN) is a network of doctors, midwives and researchers who are working to prevent the problems associated with preterm birth. This work includes the surveillance of women at risk in order to offer timely interventions to both prevent premature labour and reduce morbidity and mortality associated with preterm birth if it cannot be prevented. The UKPCN was established with the aim of improving care and outcomes for women at risk of preterm birth through the sharing of a wealth of experience and knowledge, and the building clinical and research collaborations.

Available at Bournemouth and Poole

Tommys National Rainbow Clinic Study

The Rainbow Clinic: Improving maternity care following a previous loss Rainbow Clinics provide specialist maternity care for women and birthing people who are pregnant again following a previous stillbirth or neonatal death. We want to know more about the impact of these clinics and see if we can find ways to improve care further.

Available at: Portsmouth

MEP – Maternal Environment in Pregnancy

We want to understand how your genetic background and your environment affects the development of baby’s lungs and influences the possibility of future lung disease in early life, especially if you are allergic or asthmatic. This might happen because certain asthma and/or allergy markers in your blood get into the fluid that surrounds the baby in the womb (amniotic fluid), the baby’s blood or the umbilical cord and placenta. These markers might influence how the lungs of your baby develop and may influence the development of lung diseases such as asthma.

Available at Southampton

Contact Your Local Research Department


Portsmouth [email protected] 

Contact number 02392 286000 Ext 3606 or Bleep 1862


Salisbury [email protected] 

Contact Number 01722 336262 extension 2103

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