My research interest is in improving pregnancy outcomes, particularly in high risk pregnancies. During my PhD, I examined the pathophysiological processes underlying the clinical observation of poor placental blood flow in fetal growth restriction (FGR) and pre-eclampsia(PE); focussing on the role of oxidative stress in placental vascular dysfunction. In 2008, I was awarded a Research Training Fellowship from Action Medical Research. This prestigious award enabled me to continue laboratory and clinical studies examining the origin of placental vascular dysfunction in fetal growth restriction, towards the development of improved monitoring and therapy. In addition I have developed a series of research projects to examine why obese women are at significantly greater risk of poor pregnancy outcomes. These studies aim to understand why maternal obesity confers an increased susceptibility to major complication such as PE and disordered fetal growth and inform clinical practice by developing strategies to reduce risk of complications in these pregnancies.
I have also collaborated with Professor Tina Lavender (School of Nursing Midwifery and Social Work to develop studies focussed on the trend towards delayed childbearing and stillbirth. Advanced maternal age impacts on pregancy outcomes, but the lack of high quality prospective studies has led to inconsistencies in how these women are cared for. We have developed a programme of research utilising mixed methodologies, to provide an evidence base for optimal maternity care of women of advanced age. Currently, 1 in 200 pregnancies in the UK ends in stillbirth. Many women who have have experienced stillbirth embark on another pregnancy, these subsequent pregnancies are often associated with increased stress and anxiety, which may negatively impact on clinical psychological and social outcomes. We are currently investigating the experiences of women and health professionals of the care provided to women who have had previous stillbirth or neonatal death. These studies will improve our understanding of the needs of women and families and advance the provision of senstive appropriate maternity care.