This past weekend I attended the Midwives Alliance of North America (MANA) annual conference; Birthing Social Change in Portland, OR. The conference was attended by more than 300 midwives and their supporters. I thoroughly enjoyed the variety of general sessions and the concurrents I attended. Eugene DeClerq, (did you know he is an LCCE!) a principal investigator on the Listening to Mothers project and the genius behind the Birth by the Numbers website, was brilliant as usual in sharing all kinds of data about the state of birth in the USA. Another keynote speaker, Melissa Cheyney, PhD, CPM, LDM, Division of Research Chairperson for MANA, provided members with an update on the MANA Stats Project. The MANA Stats Project is a multi-year registry collecting data mostly about out-of-hospital births, though some Certified Nurse Midwives are using it for tracking both home and hospital births as well.
At the conference, two much-anticipated research studies were announced. You can learn more about the articles and MANA stats in a recent post at the MANA blog here. Science & Sensibility is looking forward to sharing a review and information about these studies with you here on our blog in the early part of next year, when they are released in the Jan/Feb 2014 issue of the Journal of Midwifery and Women’s Health.
The MANA Stats registry is currently collecting more than 1,000 records per month, mostly from midwives who attend out of hospital births in the United States. The first set of records – representing more than 20,000 births – is currently available to researchers. According to Melissa Cheyney, “These datasets include some of the only U.S. data that exists regarding physiologic, low-intervention labor and birth — data that are becoming more and more rare due to the increase in “routine” interventions in the hospital setting.”
As the data set grows and more records are added, the power and possibility of exploring information contained gets even more exciting. Did you know that the data is being made available to researchers interested in conducting some analysis? Could this be you? Professionals may think that they need to be affiliated with a large research institution, but that is not the case.
All researchers applying for the data are required to have what’s known as “IRB approval,” meaning an academic institution willing and able to ensure that the research design appropriately protects the subjects’ confidentiality. However, MANA has a unique program in place that allows non-academic researchers to access the data. The program connects mothers, advocates, and others interested in research with researchers that can provide support and mentorship. You can learn more about this program – called “ConnectMe” – here.
It would be wonderful if a Lamaze Certified Childbirth Educator with the skill and abilities to do some analysis joined forces with researchers through the “ConnectMe” program and this information could be published in a professional journal! The possibilities are endless. Do you think this could be you?
It was interesting and exciting to spend time with all the midwives who are working every day to to help women and babies experience safe, healthy births and are practicing the Lamaze International Six Healthy Birth Practices that we know leads to better birth outcomes.
For more information for researchers to learn more about the dataset and how to apply, click here.