The question is no longer whether to continue the pregnancy or save the mother but to allow a positive pregnancy and maternity experience in those women.
Tackling myths and preconceptions;
Oncological treatment in pregnancy is feasible.
Chemo can be possible
Natural labour can be possible
Breastfeeding can be possible
Of course it will depend by individual health conditions and under certain circumstances.
A positive maternity experience is possible and there are good practices that exist that can help shape the standard, consistency and accuracy of support offered to women undergoing high-risk pregnancy & maternity by maternity staff.
Challenges for women
Pregnant women are labelled as high risk and are of course exposed and vulnerable. Emotionally, they are more anxious and ambivalent about their pregnancies. This is exacerbated during treatment when often the pregnancy experience can become side-lined.
The pregnancy experience has moreover an impact on parental self-efficacy beliefs and parenting behaviours and consequently on the child's wellbeing. The development of bonding to the new born is also a recognized issue.
Challenges for health professionals
Despite the good number of guidelines, from a medical perspective, maternity services, charities, non-governmental organisations, and their professionals (project’s direct beneficiaries, such as midwives, doulas, health visitors, counsellors and therapists) are not always offered guidelines on how to normalise the experience of maternity for women with cancer.
This project aims to
Promote awareness amongst the general public about cancer and pregnancies - tackling myths and preconceptions
Give a voice to women with experience of pregnancy and cancer in order to benefit from their first-hand knowledge
Offer maternity staff and maternity services recommendations for supporting cancer complicated pregnancies based on women’s feedback, directed research, and professional experience in the field.
Stimulate debate amongst stakeholders/policymakers
At the moment this is a grey area that falls between oncology and gynaecology.