Maternal health encompasses prenatal care, pregnancy, childbirth, and the postpartum period. Understanding the impact of disasters on maternal health is an important research task, for pregnant women, their fetuses, and the communities they live in. For instance, areas affected by conflicts or humanitarian crises often also have challenges with access to safe healthcare resources; moreover, in low to middle income countries, maternal health morbidity is a major public health concern exacerbated by disaster conditions. Using evidence-based studies to improve maternal care allows communities to flourish, which points to the important work of community-engaged researchers. Cultural understandings of maternal health and women’s roles in societies are vital to ensure needed research is conducted ethically.
Interventional studies, clinical research, and vaccine trials often exclude pregnant women because of the unknown risks involved for both women and fetuses. However, without any research evidence, pregnant women will either be excluded from interventions or provided interventions with unknown risks and efficacy. Including pregnant women in intervention studies, along with rigorous risk assessment and safety monitoring, will help to establish standards of care and effective, safe interventions and help reduce the unknown risks of research in the first place. More ethics guidance in research with pregnant women, especially during emergencies, is needed.