Pregnancy, nutrition and best practice

Thursday 16 August 2018

Dr Shelley Wilkinson, the Senior Research Dietitian in the Mater Mothers' Hospital (MMH), and a Queensland Health – Health Research Fellow, is undertaking research that aims to improve the delivery of evidence based nutrition to pregnant women.

Dr Wilkinson has a comprehensive program of projects designed to help women have healthier pregnancies.

To help pregnant women better understand the unique nutritional requirements of pregnancy and have healthier pregnancies, and healthier babies, Dr Wilkinson is helping provide access to qualified dietitians in hospitals.

Diet and nutrition is as impactful as smoking or drugs on how genes are expressed during pregnancy. What happens in pregnancy can last for a life time or more. Mater researchers are helping make sure that women are provided with all the information they need to make the best choices for them and their child.

Dr Wilkinson is creating tools to help midwives and clinicians use the best evidence available to support women through their pregnancy by checking BMI levels, tracking weight gain through pregnancy, and identifying which women need greater levels of support.

Her team is adopting the txt4two program to support women with a BMI over 25 to better meet weight gain targets during pregnancy, as well as supporting them to meet their nutrition and exercise goals. 

A follow up program will adapt previous research undertaken by Dr Wilkinson in postnatal development to create a new text messaging program to support healthy lifestyle choices for both mother and child once the baby is born.

By supporting women through their pregnancy, and improving the delivery of best practice, evidence based care; Dr Wilkinson is helping to improve outcomes for young children and their families through dietetic care.

"Reducing the need for babies to visit the intensive care unit, and mothers to be given insulin, not only improves their quality of life and health outcomes, but is a cost saver for the hospital, freeing up resources that can be used to help more families," says Dr Wilkinson.