Research and Innovation within Maternity Services

Providing you and your family with best evidence care is our priority.

Although healthcare professionals know much about health, medicines and diseases, there is still much that remains uncertain. Research fills in these gaps by findings answers to things that are unknown which in turn helps us to improve the care we can provide to patients within the NHS both now and in the future.

At South Tees we have a dedicated cross specialty research team which includes a research midwife. The team have received additional training in good clinical research practice to ensure that research studies are run ethically, safely and effectively.

During your pregnancy you may be approached by a research midwife/nurse and asked if you would like to take part in a research study. If you are interested in taking part in research you can find a link to the research studies we are currently recruiting to below.

Study portfolio

Big Baby

Induction of labour for predicted macrosomia ‘The Big Baby Trial’

The aim of this study is to find out the best way to care for women with babies who appear to be bigger than expected for their dates. Identifying if labour should be started a little earlier for these women is an important unanswered question. The results of this study will provide evidence about the best way to care for women with bigger babies.


In some pregnancies in order to diagnose certain genetic and chromosomal problems an amniocentesis (a sample taken from the fluid surrounding the baby) or chorionic villus sampling (CVS) (a sample taken from the placenta) is needed. Research has shown that it may be possible to use a simple blood test taken from the mother early in pregnancy to gather information about the health of the baby and predict certain complications of pregnancy. One of the key advantages of the new blood tests will be the ability to make a diagnosis without the need for amniocentesis or CVS which means future testing could be much simpler and much safer for both mother and baby.

Before we can offer the new tests routinely it is important to ensure they work well and are accurate. To do this we need the help of parents with both normal and complicated pregnancies to collect a bank of samples that will allow us to compare these new tests with those in current use.

Neurodevelopment After Prenatal Exposure to Seizures (NAPES) Study

We are doing this study to find out more about the health and development of children born to women who have epilepsy. Every year thousands of women with epilepsy around the world become pregnant; in fact 1 out of 250 pregnancies is to a women with epilepsy.

This study aims to help understand whether having seizures during pregnancy is linked to poorer child development in their first year of life. Currently there is no clear information as to whether short seizures have an effect on the developing baby. Without having this information it makes it harder for women and their doctors to make decisions about treatment during pregnancy when a women is having seizures. It is expected that when this study has finished the information collected will help doctors and women with these decisions.

Twin Pregnancy Registry

The purpose of this registry is to address the gaps in knowledge in order to inform us what is the best treatment to offer in multiple pregnancies that develop complications, and what is the best way to monitor for the development of these complications. This should ultimately improve the care we provide to these women and babies. Furthermore, the registry will help us to ensure that all units caring for women with multiple pregnancies in the UK are providing consistent, evidence-based care. The registry will also provide a platform to allow long-term follow-up of these children at a national level.


The WILL study is looking to enrol pregnant women who have pre-existing or pregnancy-related high blood pressure (hypertension). High blood pressure can increase the risk of health problems to the mother and to her baby, and the WILL trial is being conducted to see at how many weeks of pregnancy it is best to deliver your baby, in order to minimise this risk as much as possible.


Emergency Cerclage in Twin Pregnancies at Imminent Risk of Preterm Birth

This trial aims to determine whether securing the weak cervix with a stitch will help to prolong the pregnancy and prevent early birth.


Finding out who’s at risk: how can we predict preterm labour?

To improve the management and experience of woman with threatened preterm labour (TPTL) by ensuring appropriate care is offered to those most at risk while reducing unnecessary intervention.


Establishing the safety of waterbirth for mothers and babies

Women use a birth pool during labour for pain relief and some women choose to remain in the pool for the birth of their baby. 

To date there have not been studies large enough to show whether or not waterbirth is safe for mothers or their babies.

This study plans to answer the question about the safety of waterbirths. The study is collecting data on the births of all women in around 30 maternity units across the UK until December 2020.

The study will determine  

• how many women are using birth pools

• how many women give birth in water

• whether mothers or their babies come to any extra harm as a result of waterbirth

The Pool study is an opt-out study

The team

  • Kerry Hebbron – Assistant practitioner
  • Hazel Alexander  – Midwife / sonographer
  • Lynn Whitecross – Midwife / twin specialist
  • Mary Hodgers – Community midwife
  • Helen Harwood – Nurse specialist

Contact us

01642 835913

Further information can be found on the NHS website