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What is maternal critical illness?

“Maternal critical illness” refers to an actual or potentially life-threatening health situation for a woman when she is pregnant or has recently had a baby. For example, having a very large haemorrhage after the birth, experiencing a serious complication of pregnancy, such as preeclampsia, or being admitted to an intensive care unit (ICU) for any reason e.g. trauma or pneumonia. When serious complications occur, whether during pregnancy or afterwards, women need skilled, specialised care and this is referred to as ‘maternal critical care’. Maternal critical care is provided in a variety of clinical settings including: intensive care units, emergency departments, birth suites, high dependency units, and operating rooms and post-anaesthesia care units.

There are a number of terms, often used inter-changeably, that describe a similar clinical situation. These include: 'severe acute maternal morbidity' (SAMM), 'near-miss maternal morbidity' and 'critically ill pregnant and postpartum women'.

The business ‘Maternal Critical Care

Dr Wendy Pollock started this business in 2014 to provide professional education and research services in relation to maternal critical illness. As a critical care nurse and midwife, it became evident that there were skill and knowledge gaps about maternal critical care across many professional groups involved in their care. Furthermore, Wendy’s PhD study demonstrated that critically ill pregnant and postpartum women experienced fragmented care. Maternal critical care is a young sub-specialty that encroaches on many specialist domains and there are limited opportunities to obtain detailed highly specialised material about critically ill pregnant and postpartum women. The business ‘Maternal Critical Care’ aims to address some of these deficits by providing professional education, research services and easy access to a collection of resources.


  • To provide highly specialised professional education on maternal critical care
  • To provide a portal for resources and links related to maternal critical care
  • To conduct and support research on critically ill pregnant and postpartum women


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