If you love birth and you’re fascinated by the research and the history of all things families, birth, and babies, you might be a birth geek! One of the classic signs is that you have a near insatiable desire for more knowledge to put into practice in your classes or with your clients.
So, how does a good birth geek stay on top of it all? Here are five ways a birth geek can stay up-to-date:
- Let someone else curate the information for you.
This means that you follow people on social media who frequently read and write about the latest research. You see it when the algorithm thinks you’d find it important, but may miss some things unless they become super popular. This gives you a working knowledge about popular topics that are current. Evidently Cochrane is a great newsletter from the Cochrane Database, I highly recommend that birth geeks subscribe.
- Read blogs where someone else has read and digested the information.
There are a vast number of blogs that you could read in the subject of Maternal Child Health. Some are specifically looking to capture some of the recent research. This might be an actual analysis of the data from the research. It may be an article that is a Q&A with the author. And sometimes it could be another professional synthesizing the data. The Lamaze Connecting the Dots winds up being a really great one for birth geeks. It has a nice mixture of research content as well as practical information for your childbirth education or doula practice. Evidence Based Birth has a blog, a podcast, and other written options that may fit the bill. While they may be geared towards the well-educated consumer, they are also very functional for doulas, childbirth educators, and other birth professionals.
- Skim medical journals and PubMed for specific topics that interest you.
This version takes a little bit of time. There is also a little bit of skill involved but once you’ve done it, it gets much easier. While there is content that may be available for free, deeper dives may cost money. This has been an argument in academic medicine for a very long time. The authors of these articles do not make any money but the journals sure do. When in doubt, a quick email to the author will usually yield you the results that you are looking for in the form of the original article in full length for free. The biggest problem here is that it can take a long time. You may also try to set up some scientific versions of Google Alerts for specific topics that really interest you. For example, if you see a lot of VBAC clients, you may want to set up some VBAC alerts to let you know when new studies are available.
- Peruse the table of contents of a few select medical journals in your field.
You may be able to just simply pick a couple of medical journals and skim the table of contents every month. Certain ones, like the Green Journal, will actually email you the table of contents as they come out every month. It’s a great way to get you thinking about what research is going on and even if you aren’t interested in that specific article it may send you looking to PubMed for something different. There are a certain number of highly respected journals that I would recommend you start with. Certainly, the Green and the Gray journals would be among those, but don’t forget journals from AWHONN, like Journal of Obstetric, Gynecologic, & Neonatal Nursing and ACNM’s Journal of Midwifery and Women’s Health. Nursing research is very rich in this field. I would also recommend Birth as well as The Journal of Perinatal Education and International Journal of Childbirth Education. (There are also other publications that may be great for your practice but are not specifically about research, think of this like the quarterly publications from your certifying bodies.)
- Subscribe to a service that sends you select articles in your field.
This is an expensive option. The subscription services can cost several hundred dollars a month though with some good pinpointing, you might be able to get it down to a couple of hundred dollars a year. The vast majority of people do not need this level of data. This is either something for someone who lives, eats, or breathes birthday de or simply has a lot of money to blow. Up-to-date maybe one example and I know there are others out there.
The truth of the matter is that you really will not be able to read everything. This is a harsh reality and one that makes my inner birth geek sad. I honestly think that the best way to get through this is to actually do a little bit of all of these.
Whatever you do know that you can change it at any point. Try something new and give it a few months and see if you’re able to read everything that you want to read or don’t miss any of the big articles that you would hope to have caught. Reevaluate every couple of months and see if you need to add something or delete something. Sometimes you’re spending a lot of time reading tables of contents when there is nothing of interest, do not be afraid to cut these journals. You have to learn to manage the information so that it doesn’t manage you.