About the study
The Maternal Health Study is a multi-wave, prospective cohort study investigating the health and well-being of over 1500 first-time mothers and their firstborn children. Women were recruited to the study from six Melbourne metropolitan hospitals between 2003-2005.
In the early years of the study the main focus was on women's health and recovery after childbirth. Women taking part in the study completed questionnaires and telephone interviews in early and late pregnancy, and at three, six, nine, 12 and 18 months postpartum. The study was then extended to include follow-up at four and ten years postpartum. Over 800 women in the study have also been followed up after second and subsequent births.
Data has been collected on common maternal physical and psychological health problems, including incontinence, sexual health problems, depression, anxiety and intimate partner abuse, and on a range of child health and developmental outcomes. We have also collected information regarding the social context of women and children, and changing life circumstances as the children grow up.
The study aims to improve understanding of social and obstetric factors influencing maternal and child health. The information collected is used to inform policy and practice in maternity care, early childhood services and primary health care.
We are currently implementing a nested sub-study following up mothers and adolescent children in the study at age 15 to 17 years to examine social impacts of COVID-19 pandemic on maternal and adolescent mental health and wellbeing. Next year, we hope to commence follow-up of the whole cohort as the adolescent children reach 18 years of age.