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.