A creative animation developed by King’s Improvement Science and writer, artist and facilitator Claire Collison is at the heart of a new campaign to encourage women to share their safety concerns about life-threatening illness during pregnancy or after giving birth.
The Re-Assure project team brought together women who have previously experienced serious complications in pregnancy or birth to co-create an animation that follows a woman through her pregnancy journey. It seeks to persuade pregnant women who are worried about their health, or their baby’s health, to take their concerns seriously and ask for help by encouraging them to trust themselves and to ‘look out for changes that don’t feel right’.
Each day in the UK, 10 babies are stillborn and 152 babies are born preterm. A research project led by Professor Jane Sandall has shown that women’s knowledge about their own changing body is invaluable in contributing to safer pregnancies. The challenge for health professionals is that pregnant and postnatal women often struggle to explain their instincts and voice their concerns.
After the animation was completed, the project team worked with Tommy’s charity and the BabyCentre website to launch the campaign Always Ask, creating shorter, social media-friendly versions of the original animation that link back to the full Re-Assure film. The campaign aims to empower women to overcome their fears about speaking to professionals about their health concerns and thereby reduce the number of women who suffer serious pregnancy complications and child loss. The Re-Assure animation has had almost one million views online and is now being shown in hospital waiting rooms.
The project’s academic lead, Dr Nicola Mackintosh, has since secured funds for a follow-on project in collaboration with the Attenborough Arts Centre and the Centre for BME Health in Leicester. This focused on pregnant women from Indian, Bangladeshi and Pakistani communities and included an exhibition at the Attenborough Arts Centre. Artwork and findings from the project were shared, including the message that it’s important to look beyond language and translation to visual messaging and identities incorporated within health information in order to maximise inclusivity.
The project has been cited as good practice by NHSLondon Clinical Networks London Maternal Deaths review and endorsed by the Royal College of Obstetricians& Gynaecologists, the Royal College of Midwives andNHS England.
Re-Assure is a collaboration between King’s Improvement Science, King’s Women’s Health Academic Centre and artist Claire Collison. It is supported by the university's Culture team.
This work is supported by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Collaboration for Leadership in Applied Health Research and Care South London at King’s College Hospital NHS Foundation Trust.