Unique public event explores placental research through interactive games, poetry and playdough

Over 200 people attended the family-friendly Before you were Born event in September, which delved into the latest science and developments in pregnancy research.

Before you were Born was organised by The University of Manchester’s Maternal and Fetal Health Research Centre (MFHRC) at Saint Mary’s Hospital in collaboration with the Public Programmes Team at Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust. The event was part of the 2017 International Federation of Placenta Associations (IFPA) conference which was hosted by the MFHRC this year.

The highly acclaimed free family-friendly event raised awareness of how important research into the placenta is for understanding development and growth of the baby in the womb and highlighted some of the specialist pregnancy clinics with an interactive and exploratory day of hands on fun for all ages.

The aim of the day was to showcase the research taking place at the Maternal and Fetal Health Research Centre and to create a platform for staff to communicate their research to the public. Professor Colin Sibley, Director of the MFHRC and Tommy’s Baby Charity and Research Director of the Manchester Academic Health Science Centre explains:

“Before you were Born was a fantastic way for both researchers and members of the public to come together and exchange knowledge, experiences and questions in a fun and interactive setting.”

Scientists from overseas, who had been attending the International Federation of Placenta Associations conference in Manchester, were very impressed with the event and several expressed a desire to develop a similar event at their own Universities, with advice from our Manchester team.

Over 50 members of staff including researchers, midwives, clinicians and students helped to deliver the event at Manchester Central Convention Centre which was a great success. Early career researchers from across the world, who were in Manchester to attend the IFPA conference, were involved in quick-fire ‘Meet the Scientist’ sessions, using props and their imagination to explain their research in only three minutes.  There was a ‘Little lab’ which gave children the chance to become researchers, arts and crafts activities such as ‘design your own ‘playdough placenta’, a poetry station and interactive activities such as; ‘the great egg and sperm race and a lucky dip of factors affecting the placenta during pregnancy. The event also featured a sculpture and drawing exhibition on the theme of stillbirth by artist Adinda van’t Klooster.

Feedback from those who attended showed that after attending the event 86% knew more about what the placenta does and 83% knew more about how lifestyle can affect the baby and placenta.

Watch the video below to find out more about placental research at Saint Mary’s Hospital