IDM2024: Blog from Emilie Bailey, Research Midwife

To celebrate International Day of the Midwife (IDM) 2024, Research Midwife, Emilie Bailey shares her midwifery research journey and why she is proud to contribute to research that helps make pregnancy safer.

Emilie Bailey, Research Midwife

Within my role as Lead Specialist Midwife for the Rainbow Clinic, part of Tommy’s Maternal and Fetal Health Research Centre (MFHRC) at Saint Mary’s Hospital, I work as a Research Midwife supporting lots of women with complex pregnancy histories. Working in the research team has allowed me to learn more about these conditions from colleagues who are often at the cutting-edge of care and innovations in their treatment.

At the Rainbow Clinic, led by Professor Alex Heazell, we provide specialist antenatal care for women who have sadly experienced stillbirth or neonatal death (when a baby dies within 28 days after they are born). We are also passionate about research and its role in reducing pregnancy loss and improving care for families throughout their pregnancy journey. 

An inspiring team

My research journey began in 2022 when I joined Tommy’s Rainbow Clinic on a secondment, and I am grateful to have been given the opportunity to continue my career in research since.

In the last 18 months, I have learned a huge amount about the role research has played in improving care and outcomes for pregnancies that are considered high risk. It has been fascinating to observe the findings of the studies carried out in our research clinics being implemented into practice across the Trust and nationally.

Working within an incredible team of professors, obstetricians, midwives, and research practitioners has given me insight into the huge amount of work that goes into developing and implementing a research study. It is inspiring to see the rewards that come from identifying and sharing results that lead to an improvement in the safety of mums and babies. 

 Learning every day

In my research role I have recently begun working on the DAPHNE (Developing MRI sequences to Assess maternal cardiac and Placental function in women with HyperteNsion in pregnancy) study.

The placenta is the baby’s lifeline in pregnancy and the key to many of the most severe pregnancy complications such as stillbirth and pre-eclampsia (high blood pressure and protein in the urine which can lead to seizures if untreated).

We are recruiting pregnant women with varying conditions including hypertension (high blood pressure) and diabetes to see if magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scanning would be useful in understanding the effects of these pregnancy complications on the heart and on the placenta.

There is so much that we do not know about how and why problems arise in pregnancy, which is why maternity research is so vital to expand our knowledge and help make pregnancy safer.

 Rainbow pregnancies

The area of maternity research that I am most passionate about is improving care for bereaved families in their pregnancy after loss. Through Tommy’s and the Rainbow Clinic, we are currently leading the National Rainbow Clinic Study and part of my role includes coordinating this research at 26 Rainbow Clinic sites across the UK.

The Rainbow Clinic began at Tommy’s MFHRC and has since been rolled out to 29 Trusts across England and Wales. Our goal is to have an equivalent service available at all Trusts across the UK. The National Rainbow Clinic Study assesses the anxiety and depression scores of pregnant women attending the clinic at multiple points in their pregnancy, as well as recording their pregnancy outcomes. If the study results prove this care pathway to be beneficial, this will show the importance of investing in specialist pregnancy after loss services and encourage more Trusts to implement this for families in their care. 

Happy IDM 2024!

Emilie (right) with members of the Tommy’s Team

Maternity care is ever-changing based on the latest evidence and there is so much to learn, but that is part of the challenge that I love. I feel proud to be a small part of research that leads to these changes and proud to be a midwife within such a compassionate, dedicated team. The first two babies that I ever delivered as a first-year student midwife were born on International Day of the Midwife and it’s amazing to think that they will be eight years old now.  I would like to wish them a happy birthday and also wish a happy International Day of the Midwife to all of my fellow midwives across the NHS!

The Rainbow Clinic is funded by Tommy’s, the largest charity in the UK carrying out research into the causes of miscarriage, stillbirth and premature birth, and Research and Innovation at MFT.