The majority of women remain healthy during pregnancy and childbirth. The UK has one of the lowest maternal mortality rates in the world.
Nevertheless, there has been an increase in the number of women who become unwell around the time of childbirth, due to factors including increasing maternal age, increasing rates and levels of obesity and other comorbidities. Women who become acutely unwell during pregnancy, labour or the postnatal period should have immediate access to critical care, of the same standard as other sick patients, delivered by teams skilled in providing critical care to the acutely deteriorating obstetric patient.
With this aim, in 2011, a multidisciplinary group from several royal colleges, including obstetricians, anaesthetists, intensivists, midwives and critical care nurses, published a document: Providing equity of critical and maternity care for the critically-ill pregnant or recently pregnant woman.2 The current document is an update of the 2011 version and is the outcome of interdisciplinary discussions over the past six years. The aim of this document is to make recommendations regarding collaborative working between maternity units and critical care units alongside other specialist support (eg psychologists, paediatrics in case of teenage pregnancy), so that critically ill women are provided with the appropriate level of care in a timely manner.