Not All Pregnancy E-Newsletters Are Created Equal! How Do You Decide What To Recommend?

When I was just barely pregnant with my first child, I rushed out to purchase a huge armload of pregnancy and birth books that sat on the night table and I made sure to read a bit each night before going to sleep.  One of those books, (I can’t even recall the title now) was designed to be read weekly, and covered fetal development, along with maternal physical and emotional changes as well as what I could expect at my prenatal appointments with my health care provider.  In 1996, this was all that was available to me.

Today’s expectant families have never had a more diverse pool of resources from which to choose from when seeking information.  Along with a wide assortment of books, (also available in electronic versions for smart phones and tablets) there is a plethora of pregnancy forums, chat rooms, videos, blogs, online due date clubs and social media avenues where women can learn and share about what is to come as they progress through pregnancy and prepare to birth. One of the first things that women may do now, after confirming their pregnancy, is to sign up for a pregnancy newsletter tied to their due date.

Unless you are teaching an early pregnancy class, (a class that is sorely underrepresented amongst birth class choices) by the time students may be taking your childbirth education class, they have potentially received many days and weeks worth of these pregnancy newsletters and possibly devoured every morsel.

Do you know what your students, patients or clients are reading?  Have you peeked at the content in these newsletters recently?  One of the first question to ask yourself is what need are these newsletters meeting for expectant families? And are they providing accurate information?  Did you know that Lamaze International offers a weekly pregnancy newsletter for families?  Lamaze International’s newsletter has “Ask the Expert” columns authored by LCCEs and other experts, as well as “Healthy Tips,” motivating quotes,  short, easy to read reviews of current studies and lots of links and resources for more information on all the topics for pregnant and birthing women.  Best of all, you know that information found in Lamaze International’s weekly pregnancy newsletter is gong to be based on evidence and best practice.

There are many other pregnancy newsletters out there, some sending emails weekly, daily or “randomly,” all authored by a variety of sources, some with solid credentials and some just mass produced by a marketing department with little or no knowledge of the actual topics they are writing about.

Evaluating Pregnancy Newsletters

  • Who is the organization behind the newletter? (OB office or trade group, non-profit birth organization, commercial enterprise such as an insurance company?)
  • What are the credentials of the authors or writers? Do they identify them?
  • Do they offer evidence based recommendations that follow current best practice?
  • Do they provide the references and sources for the information they provide?
  • Does the newsletter’s images and and language reflect diverse couples and families? (women of color, same sex couples, women of size? partners and support people vs. only using “father?”)
  • Do they encourage readers to discuss benefits, risks and alternatives for common procedures and tests with their health care providers?
  • Is the goal of the organization producing the newsletter to sell a product or service to the pregnant woman?

Finding the mainstream newsletters available to pregnant women is not hard, a quick search on Google produces results from many sources you may already be familiar with.  I encourage you to sign up for a handful of the mainstream ones, along with our own Lamaze International’s “Building Confidence Week by Week” newsletter.  Throw in a due date from each trimester, so you can take a peek at the content over the course of the pregnancy.  Compare the newsletters for a certain gestation side by side, using the criteria above and decide for yourself which one offers the best tool for pregnant women and also follows along with Lamaze International’s Healthy Birth Practices, which we know are evidenced based and promote safe and normal birth.

Another alternative would be to write your own pregnancy newsletter, and make it available to those in your classes or open it up to the public.  This enriches your curriculum and it could be a great way to get the message out about your Lamaze classes.  It also provides an unbiased source of information that soon to be parents can use.

In addition to the “Building Confidence Week by Week” newsletter, I also like the March of Dimes e-newsletter and the newsletter available from About.com* and recommend them to pregnant mothers and their families.

What are your favorite pregnancy e-newsletters that you like to share with your students, clients and patients?  Why do you like them?  Have you thought of writing your own?  Do you already do that?  Please share with all the readers so that we can all work together to provide families with the best resources in pregnancy newsletters out there.  Check out the different options that your families might be using, and come back and let us know what you think?  I look forward to hearing your thoughts and comments.

*Disclosure- About.com Pregnancy Newsletter is written by Lamaze Board Member Robin Elise Weiss. LCCE, MPH.

7 Comments

Not All Pregnancy E-Newsletters Are Created Equal! How Do You Decide What To Recommend?

September 11, 2012 07:00 AM by Anna Deligio, LCCE
Thanks for writing about this. It's the same reason I saw the "What to Expect" movie - it's so important to have an understanding of what your students are using for information. I subscribed to the Parents.com newsletter and got a lot of good information about what my students were exposed to through mainstream outlets. Some of the information was solid, and some was pretty questionable. Like a lot of these newsletters, it took some good critical thinking to discern and sort the good info from the fear-based nonsense. I know critical thinking is a learned skill and not one that everyone has learned it yet. Since we can't know everything our students have taken in and accepted as true, it's also important to make sure there is always time for discussion in childbirth classes. We need to ask them what they think about what we've taught, how they're feeling, etc. Starting a topic by asking, "What do you know about...(interventions, cesarean birth, medicated pain management, etc.)" is a great way to get them talking and to get a sense of what ideas and info they already have in their head about it.

Not All Pregnancy E-Newsletters Are Created Equal! How Do You Decide What To Recommend?

September 11, 2012 07:00 AM by Sharon Muza, BS, LCCE, FACCE, CD(DONA), BDT(DONA), CLE
@Anna, Nourishing Roots You are so right, Anna, it is critical to know what our students are reading, but also to be prepared to talk about what they read, and help them to determine how to evaluate the sources of their material. Thanks for your thoughts. I agree with you!

Not All Pregnancy E-Newsletters Are Created Equal! How Do You Decide What To Recommend?

September 13, 2012 07:00 AM by Lucy Juedes, LCCE
Thanks -- I added about.com to my list of suggested resources on my business web site. Should not have overlooked that!!! I tend to suggest websites, not newsletters, and not facebook groups. (Although people can sign up for newsletters on the web sites.) And the web sites I suggest are generally institutional, not individually run, except kellymom and vbac facts. I used to suggest more online blogs, but now I only suggest two that have helpful perspectives for many of the moms I serve. (birthingbeautifulideas and shininglightprenataleducation) I try not to use blogs as a source unless it is backed by an institution. Oh, and don't get me started about fear! There is so much marketing to fear from many, many sides! Some parents bring enough fear to the class -- I try not to add any extra, and try to help the parents notice when they feel like they are being manipulated, and even manipulated by me. I try not to do that, and hope the parents are skeptical of me, too, and ask any questions they have about what I might be saying (or at least think I'm saying). My classes are pretty discussion based, so I can get called on just about anything, by moms and partners! Thanks for the reminder about other sources of reliable info. :-)

Not All Pregnancy E-Newsletters Are Created Equal! How Do You Decide What To Recommend?

September 13, 2012 07:00 AM by Rachel
I do write my own, but I just started, so I don't have too much experience with that yet. I am very particular about making sure that I base my info on reliable resources. I am sometimes bothered by the lack of credible information out there in the online pregnancy world. I do hand out my nurses association magazine, though. As a company that is involved in the pregnancy world, I would be very interested in what kind of info people consider credible so that I can make sure my own newsletter meets those standards.

Not All Pregnancy E-Newsletters Are Created Equal! How Do You Decide What To Recommend?

September 14, 2012 07:00 AM by Deena H. Blumenfeld, ERYT, RPYT, LCCE, FACCE
I'm with Lucy here... there is so much product selling, misinformation and fearmongering out there in the online universe. I find myself combating it daily. It's one of the reasons I like teaching my Prenatal Yoga classes, I get the moms in at 10-15 weeks and drop hints and tidbits of useful info. I do teach an early pregnancy class as well, but enrollment is low. I just don't think women know that they need a class like that.

Not All Pregnancy E-Newsletters Are Created Equal! How Do You Decide What To Recommend?

September 14, 2012 07:00 AM by Ami Burns, LCCE, FACCE
In my classes I talk about the pros & cons of "Dr. Google" -- reminding parents they will find extremes on either side of any pregnancy/birth/baby/parenting issue -- so consider the source. That said, I do a lot of writing for consumer/"mainstream" sites that I find to be very balanced, a combination of personal and expert information.

Not All Pregnancy E-Newsletters Are Created Equal! How Do You Decide What To Recommend?

September 28, 2012 07:00 AM by Judy Machorek, LCCE,CD
Deena Blumenfeld RYT, RPYT, LCCE : Iím with Lucy hereÖ there is so much product selling, misinformation and fearmongering out there in the online universe. I find myself combating it daily. Itís one of the reasons I like teaching my Prenatal Yoga classes, I get the moms in at 10-15 weeks and drop hints and tidbits of useful info. I do teach an early pregnancy class as well, but enrollment is low. I just donít think women know that they need a class like that. Deena Blumenfeld RYT, RPYT, LCCE : Iím with Lucy hereÖ there is so much product selling, misinformation and fearmongering out there in the online universe. I find myself combating it daily. Itís one of the reasons I like teaching my Prenatal Yoga classes, I get the moms in at 10-15 weeks and drop hints and tidbits of useful info. I do teach an early pregnancy class as well, but enrollment is low. I just donít think women know that they need a class like that. @Deena Blumenfeld RYT, RPYT, LCCE Great idea to get the mom's as early as possible to instill confidence and research based information. Our childbirth education deals with the misinformation, product selling etc. in our classes. We have also tried an early pregnancy class as well but can't get the enrollment. This classes would be so beneficial especially with nutrition, excercise and fact based information.

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