‘Tis the (Conference) Season: Come share, connect, and learn along with me
I have felt a little bit like a slacker blogger lately, but it’s not for lack of thinking and writing about birth. I just wrapped up an article called Social Media, Power, and the Future of VBAC with Hilary Gerber from Mom’s Tinfoil Hat and Desirre Andrews from Preparing for Birth which we submitted to the 50th anniversary “Looking Back – Looking Forward” special issue of Lamaze’s Journal of Perinatal Education. I’ve also been working with Kristen Oganowski from Birthing Beautiful Ideas to coordinate the development of an NIH VBAC Statement Primer for consumers. We have a bunch of brilliant contributors on board and will be launching the primer later this month at Lamaze’s new (very cool!) social networking site for women, Giving Birth with Confidence.
Now the big looming work comes in the form of conference season. And I want you (yes YOU) to help me. I have a love-hate relationship with conferences. Mostly love. I love how much sharing, connecting, and learning happens. I love finding out what old friends and colleagues are up to and meeting the people doing the most interesting, innovative, and important work in the field. But attending (and especially speaking at) a conference is a lot of work, and often disrupts progress in my other (equally if not more important) work. Also, I hate that conferences take me away from my family.
So…I want to make the most of the opportunities these conferences offer. I want to maximize the amount of sharing, connecting, and learning we – collectively – do. And I want to leave these conferences not with tons of new projects and commitments for myself, but with tons of new opportunities for the broader maternity care community (that means YOU) to drive meaningful improvements for women, infants, and families.
Here’s some more about the conferences I’m attending, and how YOU can be part of them.
On June 7 I’ll be at Health 2.0 Goes to Washington.
Um, have I mentioned lately that I think social media is going to transform maternity care? Well I developed this delirious optimism by hanging around (online) with the Participatory Medicine crowd. I get to actually meet most of them next week!
I first caught on to the Participatory Medicine train when I read a Grand Rounds blog carnival on the theme of “Meaningful Use” almost exactly a year ago. “Meaningful Use” is government speak for the goal of implementing electronic health records (with piles and piles of stimulus money) in a manner that actually improves care. The Participatory Medicine folks are front and center in the conversation, pushing for patient-access to be the defining characteristic of meaningful. It’s all about liberating the mounds of data that will exist in electronic health records and letting innovators, policy-makers, scientists, and – most importantly – patients themselves use that data to improve health.
I have 10 minutes to speak but a whole day to connect and learn. Here are my questions for you to help me make the most of this opportunity:
- What do you think are the most innovative ways women are using the internet or social media to have healthier, safer, and more satisfying childbearing experiences?
- What are the types and sources of maternity care data that you would most like to see become available?
- What kind of data do you think should be documented in electronic health records during pregnancy, birth, and the postpartum and newborn period? Think outside the box.
- What do you think would be the most important benefits (and for that matter, risks or drawbacks) of having complete, unhindered, timely access to your maternity care records?
- What ongoing or forthcoming projects in the maternity care world could use the insights or funds of outside (non-birth-enthusiast) social innovators?
The following week (June 12-16), I’ll be at the American College of Nurse-Midwives Annual Meeting.
I’m only attending ACNM for one day, but traveling with my family for my kids’ first-ever trip to the nation’s capitol. I’m giving two educational sessions that couldn’t be more different from one another. First, I’m presenting a talk called, “How Not to Get Duped by Obstetric Research” about the importance of thinking critically about evidence, and how honing critical analysis skills can can help midwives practice and advocate for safe and effective care. The other talk is a panel discussion with Amie Newman from RH Reality Check and Mary Murry, CNM, from The Mayo Clinic “Pregnancy Week by Week Blog,” moderated by Melissa Garvey from ACNM’s own Midwife Connection Blog. We’ll be talking about why more midwives should be blogging and how they can get started. We recorded a really lively discussion about these issues on The Feminist Breeder & Friends Radio Show on International Day of the Midwife – a preview of our ACNM panel – which you can listen to here:
My questions for YOU:
- What do you think is the optimal role of midwives (specifically certified nurse-midwives and certified-midwives) in blogging and other social media?
- How can we protect the privacy and dignity of the women and families we serve (and for that matter, the people we work with) when midwives share about our work in social media spaces?
- What obstetric routines or beliefs would you most like to hear me critically analyze? I promise to make at least a blog post or two out of my How Not to Get Duped talk. (Actually, what I’ll also do is write parts of the talk from my prior blog posts, so if you have any favorite posts from the archives that you think would make good case studies, please suggest them!)
- What are the best DC outings to do with a 3 and an almost-6 year old?
Lastly but Oh-So-Not-Leastly, I’ll be attending the Normal Labour and Birth 5th International Research Conference in July.
I’m not speaking at this conference. I’m going for the sole purpose of blogging it! I wrote a proposal to the conference organizers suggesting that they let me attend and help disseminate the proceedings. They agreed! I think this is a huge opportunity to learn from the people doing the research about how to optimize the health and safety of healthy women and their babies around the time of birth. We’ll also hear from leaders who are creating and maintaining integrated, midwife-led primary maternity care systems, the gold standard for achieving “woman-centered, safe, effective, timely, efficient, and equitable” care.
What happened when bloggers and other connected consumers attended the NIH Consensus Development Conference on VBAC was astounding and continues to deliver. Since that experience, I’m addicted to putting scientific findings in the hands of engaged, connected consumers, because, as Kay Dickerson from the Cochrane Collaboration says, “We’ll only get evidence-based healthcare in this country through consumer activism.” Today activists have more access than ever before to information and are getting increasingly social media savvy. There’s no telling what we can do if we put our innovative, passionate minds to it and work collaboratively.
So here’s what I want to know from YOU:
- Whose research are you most interested in hearing about? (Look over the Normal Labour and Birth agenda to see who will be presenting about what.)
- Would you rather have a little bit of information/analysis about more of the presentations or more in-depth analysis of fewer presentations?
- Are there any researchers you would like me to conduct a “Consider the Source” Interview with?
Finally, any readers who are planning to attend any of these conferences – I invite you to submit a guest post. I’d love to share multiple perspectives (not to mention the tremendous work of blogging all of these meetings!) Just email me at amyromano [at] Lamaze [dot] org.