I didn’t want to mention it before because I was feeling superstitious (yes, yes, I get the irony) – but I am now happy to announce the safe arrival of my son last week.
Now, the perceptive amongst you will recognise that this post is just a poorly-disguised excuse for a proud new mum to show off a picture of her offspring (see right).
However, in an attempt to shoe-horn my news into the theme of my blog, I hereby present five things that pregnancy and childbirth have taught me about evidence-informed decision making:
1. Pregnancy is open-season for pseudo-science. I have been amazed at how otherwise sensible sources of information seem to be completely happy to promote dodgy quackery when talking about pregnancy. It is difficult to find a book or article about pregnancy problems which doesn’t eventually advocate trying homeopathy, reiki or some other daft treatment plan, while the pronouncements about what you can and cannot do while pregnant are often arbitrary and non-fact based. This article in the Guardian on this topic is great.
2. The best pseudo-scientific ‘fact’ I heard was the idea that foot massage could be dangerous during pregnancy since there is apparently an accupressure point on your foot that can induce early labour – which made me imagine a horde of reflexologists-gone-bad moonlighting as backstreet, alternative therapy abortionists.
3. The ubiquity of bad science in pregnancy-related advice is particularly disappointing considering the rich history of good research on pregnancy and childbirth. In fact, the Cochrane Collaboration was originally started in the 1980s in order to produce objective reviews of research in perinatal medicine.
4. Just as in policy making, lived experience can trump statistics. This is demonstrated by the number of mums who will assume that your experience will be the same as theirs despite the massive variation in ‘normal’ pregnancy and childbirth.
5. Those of you who work in the field of evidence-informed policy making may think you know a lot about the competing influences of evidence, beliefs, politics, prejudice, vested interests and so on in decision making. But you have not seen anything until you have spent some time browsing a mums’ online discussion forum…
The only thing that remains for me to say is that my blog posts might be a bit infrequent over the coming months – please bear with me as I might be a bit preoccupied. And, what’s that I hear you say? You would like to see another photo? Oh OK then, here you go!