Back in 2016, when I was child-free and didn’t have a single grey hair, I was scrolling through Facebook and a sponsored post popped up looking for pregnant women to be involved in a clinical trial. It was for the NIPPER trial, which involved taking a supplementary drink during pregnancy (very similar to leading pregnancy vitamins, with a couple of additional supplements thrown in). The whole thing looked very beneficial, so I had a chat with my husband, we registered our interest and our participation in research went from there.
Given New Zealand’s relatively small size, I’ve always been impressed at what we’ve been able to contribute to clinical research globally concerning the health and wellbeing of babies. For example, look at the findings from the New Zealand cot death study in the 1980’s, which resulted in changes to baby sleeping habits internationally. So, when I saw the opportunity to contribute to ongoing research, I really felt compelled to be part of it.
With my first son, Archer, we had several appointments throughout the pregnancy where my bloods were checked, and we also had additional scans. Being my first pregnancy, this was all very reassuring. When I became pregnant with my second son, Beau, I received some information in the mail regarding studies that were currently running from the Liggins Institute at the University of Auckland. I had a follow up phone call from one of the research midwives and we discussed the C*STEROID feasibility study. Although by this point, I felt as though I knew and trusted the research team, I still ran this past my Obstetrician who was extremely supportive of me being involved. To have the approval of an independent medical professional is always reassuring.
The C*STEROID feasibility study was a lot less time consuming than the NIPPER study, consisting of only two appointments just before birth. However, we still definitely benefitted from the additional care we received through being involved in a research study.
Following Beau’s birth, we were visited by research midwives from Liggins to take his blood sugar levels. It was picked up that he was slightly hypoglycaemic where his blood sugar (or glucose) was low, which he probably wouldn’t have been tested for outside of the study. But even more importantly, our research midwife picked up that Beau was struggling with his breathing and rallied the hospital staff to get Beau transferred to NICU for the additional care he needed. I really can’t express how grateful I am to have had her there to help Beau when he needed it.
Being involved in a clinical trial not only gives you the altruistic feeling of being involved in something for the greater good, but also (more selfishly) gives you additional checks and monitoring which you might not get otherwise. Pregnancy and childbirth can be a stressful time, and if you’re a natural worrier like I am, having an additional set of eyes monitoring your little one can be a great comfort.
I’m proud that my two boys have been able to contribute. By participating in research my whānau has contributed to improving the lives of mums, and to saving the lives of future babies.