Molly Henneberry

Supervisor: Craig Steinback

Project: How the nervous system controls blood pressure in women with singleton and twin pregnancies


St. Albert, AB

Degree program:

Bachelor of Science in Kinesiology

What interested you in the summer studentship program?

As a young woman in research, I was drawn to WCHRI for the strong community of women supporting each other in their research. I've been so inspired by the graduate students, postdoctoral fellows, and other researchers in my lab who are successful women in this community. There are so many opportunities through the studentship to learn how I, as a young career researcher, can contribute to bettering women's health.

What has WCHRI's support through the Foundations for your studentship meant to you?

WCHRI's support, through funding provided by the Alberta Women's Health Foundation, has meant that I'm able to give my full attention to research this summer, and worry less about working outside of the lab. Being able to spend full-time hours in the lab has allowed me to spend time in the lab helping with testing, and an equal amount of time on analysis. This support has helped me discover what I'm passionate about in research, and given me the chance to spend time in asking better questions. Overall, this support has provided a strong foundation for my career as a researcher.

Lay abstract:

Pregnant women develop larger hearts in order to deliver enough blood to their developing baby. A pregnant woman also experiences changes to ways her body regulates blood pressure. The increased demand on the mother's body when carrying two babies means these changes are even greater in women who are pregnant with twins. Exercise during pregnancy is known to be beneficial for both mother and baby, and the changes experienced in pregnancy occur in systems that also undergo changes with exercise. We do not yet fully understand how the body responds to changes in blood pressure during exercise in pregnant women, particularly those pregnant with twins. This project aims to address questions that will help researchers create a larger picture of what occurs in the system during pregnancy, and during exercise while pregnant. Twin pregnancies have not yet been studied in depth regarding the changes in the heart and blood vessels, and this project aims to determine any differences during exercise between women who are pregnant with one baby, and those who are carrying twins. These results will be compared to non-pregnant women to study changes the women experience in the unique state of pregnancy. By measuring the activity in the mother's body, we can understand more about the changes that occur in a pregnant woman's body, both in single and twin pregnancies.