A journey through experiences of complicated pregnancies

About the project

This study invited mothers experiencing pregnancy complications to talk about their experience and take photographs reflecting their views and journey of maternal morbidity.

Pregnancy complications are often a silent issue and little research has focused on the experiences of women and their understanding of these complications.

The aim of the project was to bring new insights and perspectives whilst raising awareness of hidden or overlooked issues for women.

Mothers-to-be, experiencing a complication, were invited to take photographs that reflect their views and experiences, over a two-week period following a first meeting with the researchers. They were then asked to meet to discuss the photographs with the research team.

With their agreement, the photographs were included in an art exhibition. People from the community and policymakers were invited so that the exhibit may help educate and potentially advocate for change in the maternity services.

Sharing their experiences visually will provide an opportunity for these silent issues to be brought centre stage and begin conversations between patients, healthcare providers, and the community.

Through their art, the mothers will bring new insights and perspectives which raise awareness of their experiences and overlooked issues

This study is based on Photovoice methodology: a qualitative method, focused on participatory research which documents people's reality through photography.

Reflections on the Photographs: 
A Note from the Researchers

We hope you enjoy the exploration of these families' experiences. The common themes throughout demonstrate the emotional journey parents go through, navigating worry, medical information, frustrations and above all, love for their little ones.

Our eternal thanks to the families who contributed to this exhibition, giving us an incredible window into their world at such a sensitive time. We look forward to relevant changes and actions that will support and improve care for families navigating these situations. Most of all, we look forward to seeing the great things these wonderful babies will do in their lives.

About the Research Team

This project and its exhibition is funded by the Health Research Board (HRB) and the National Perinatal Epidemiology Centre (NPEC) in UCC.

Project Leader:

Professor Richard Green (NPEC, CUMH)
Professor Richard Greene, a graduate of Trinity College Dublin, gained much of his clinical experience in the Coombe Women and Infants University Hospital Dublin before taking up the position of Fellow in Maternal-Fetal Medicine in Thomas Jefferson University Hospital Philadelphia USA in 1999. He returned to Ireland in 2001 as Consultant in Obstetrics and Gynaecology and Senior Lecturer in UCC. He took up his current posts of Director of the National Perinatal Epidemiology Centre (NPEC) and Professor of Clinical Obstetrics in UCC in 2007.

His research interests include maternal-fetal medicine, epidemiology and health services research. Richard developed the NPEC mission to collaborate with Irish maternity services to translate data and evidence into improved maternity care for families in Ireland. The NPEC is now a centre of excellence with a national focus working in collaboration with all 19 Irish maternity units.


Dr Sara Leitao (NPEC)
Sara is a researcher in the NPEC working in national perinatal clinical audits and related research studies in this field. She completed her PhD in the School of Public Health, UCC. Sara’s portfolio includes both qualitative and quantitative research in diverse areas such as public health, occupational health and mental wellbeing. Her main research interest is focussed on psychosocial factors for health and wellbeing.

Dr Sarah Meaney (NPEC)
Sarah Meaney is a social researcher with particular interest in the patient perspective of health care. Sarah has a PhD in medicine and health which focused on perinatal and maternal health. She has vast experience in both qualitative and quantitative health research in areas related to pregnancy, birth and pregnancy loss.

Dr Ria O'Sullivan Lago (UCC)
Ria has a PhD in social psychology from Oxford Brookes University. She has delivered education programmes in the community since 2002 and began designing and delivering science education programmes in 2011. Since 2015, Ria has worked with researchers to develop the education and communication programmes based on their research.

About the NPEC

The National Perinatal Epidemiology Centre (NPEC) is a clinical audit centre located within Cork University Maternity Hospital in Ireland. The NPEC’s primary mission is to collaborate closely with maternity services across the nation to harness the power of clinical audit data, epidemiological and research evidence. Our goal is to translate these insights into tangible improvements in maternity care for families throughout Ireland.

At the NPEC, we acknowledge that the statistics presented in our reports represent the maternity service patients, and we use this data to learn from past experiences and produce recommendations for improved care. To achievement its mission the NPEC uses a range of research methodologies, including: prospective surveillance; Hospital In-Patient Enquiry (HIPE) data analysis; cross-sectional patient studies and systematic reviews.

To find out more about the NPEC, its team and the objectives and activities of the centre please click on the link below.
“Developing a Picture of us”
National Perinatal Epidemiology Centre,
Dept. of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, 5th Floor,
Cork University Maternity Hospital, Wilton, Cork
+353 (0)21 420 5053
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