WoW Study – the Wellbeing of Women During and After Pregnancy
By Clare-Louise Knox, King’s Centre for Military Health Research (KCMHR)
Pregnancy and the arrival of a new baby signifies a period of unprecedented change, excitement and hope for the future for most women. However, for some, it can be a difficult time due to stress and anxiety which might arise during or after pregnancy. This may be especially true for women who have a Serving partner in the military. Not only do these women have to deal with pregnancy, they must also manage additional pressures associated with military life, such as relocation and family separation.
Available evidence from US studies suggests that perinatal mental health problems are more common among spouses and partners of Service personnel, compared to women in the general population. However, very little is known about what pregnancy and early motherhood is like for UK military spouses and partners, due to the significant lack of research in this area. A team of academics led by Professor Nicola Fear at King’s Centre for Military Health Research (KCMHR), King’s College London, hope to address this through a new study into maternal mental health in the military community.
The study, which is the first of its kind in the UK, will provide insights into the experiences of military spouses during and after pregnancy. We hope that the evidence from this study will be used by the NHS, Ministry of Defence and military charities to evaluate perinatal care currently offered by health services to women in the military community. The study is being supported by the Naval Families Federation (NFF), Army Families Federation (AFF) and RAF Families Federation (RAF FF) and is funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC).
The project launched in March 2020 with an online survey. If you are pregnant or up to 12 months postnatal and have a partner in the Navy, Army or RAF, you may be eligible to take part. Serving mothers are very welcome to take part, providing they are in a relationship, and their partner is in full time work or self-employment.