December 31, 2012
Wow. What a whirlwind year this has been. Let me give you little re-cap, to fill you in on where we’ve been, and where Evidence Based Birth is headed.
January-March: I was on maternity leave from my faculty role as an assistant professor of nursing. I spent a lot of time reflecting on the differences between my children’s births (the second birth I received evidence-based care, the first birth I did not). At 5 weeks post-partum, I took my baby with me and went to speak to nursing students in their OB rotation about birth. They were captivated by my stories.
April 10: I received an invitation to speak with family medicine residents about my birth experiences. The professor mentioned in her email invitation, “Any evidence from quality studies and research is always very helpful to us.” As a personal favor to the residents, I began collecting research evidence on labor and delivery practices with the purpose of writing some brief summaries for the residents. I did this writing on my personal time– not in connection with my work as a cardiovascular nurse researcher.
April 30: I had a sudden burst of inspiration. These evidence summaries—wouldn’t it be great if they were freely available for anyone (pregnant women or care providers) to read? I registered the domain name www.evidencebasedbirth.com and wrote my first blog post. In the comments section I mentioned, “I figure if I can help 10 people avoid the non-evidence based interventions I experienced at my first birth, this blog will be worth it.”
May: This was my first month blogging, and I was excited when I had more than 2,000 visitors in the first month.
June: Website traffic grew six-fold. Amazed by the number of international visitors to my website, I started a Facebook fan page for Evidence Based Birth.
July: Evidence Based Birth’s fan page reached 400 “likes” on Facebook.
August: Website traffic doubled from what it had been in June. I started a twitter account called @BirthEvidence, created a Facebook album called “Skin to Skin after a Cesarean,” and wrote my first guest article for Science and Sensibility. Given the increased traffic and visibility of my blog, I decided to take extra steps to ensure that the articles I wrote were of the highest quality, by following this process when writing blog articles. Several obstetrician volunteers began reading my articles and giving feedback before I published them.
September: With the help of my husband and his colleagues at Trifecta, we created a new logo for Evidence Based Birth. At ImprovingBirth.org’s first National Rally, readers from all of the country sent me photos of women and care providers holding up signs saying, “Evidence Based Birth!”
October: Evidence Based Birth reached 2,000 “likes” on Facebook. With the help of Trifecta, we unveiled an updated website design—giving me more artistic freedom than before. I joined the executive board of ImprovingBirth.org, a non-profit organization that advocates for evidence-based maternity care. I also began working with nursing students on a research project about how people find and share evidence-based birth information.
November: While I was at the American Heart Association Scientific Sessions, I had another burst of inspiration—wouldn’t it be amazing if we there was an annual, inter-professional, evidence-based conference about maternity care? This vision remains a dream of mine.
December: As of December 31st, Based Birth has more than 3,200 Facebook fan page likes and more website visitors than I ever thought possible. The most-read article this year was “Is Erythromycin Ointment Always Necessary for Newborns?” and the second-most popular article was “What is the Evidence for Doulas?” How do people find Evidence Based Birth articles? The most common referral method was Facebook, followed by search engines, Pinterest, Twitter, and LinkedIn. However, recently there has been a sharp uptick in referrals from BabyCenter.com discussion boards. Clearly, social media is spreading the message about Evidence Based Birth.
So that was 2012. Where do we go from here?
Well, I can pretty safely say that I never expected to be where I am now. This blog—started on a sudden burst of inspiration—has taken on a life of its own and opened up doors that I never imagined would open. Right now I am just trying to hang on for the ride and keep writing whenever I get a chance (mostly in the evenings after my kids are in bed).
For the first 3 months of 2013, my goal is to write evidence-based articles about routine separation after a C-section, using hypnosis for childbirth, and the use of IV fluids with an epidural. I would like to continue to be inclusive and write evidence-based articles for women who give birth in all kinds of different ways– whether at home or by Cesarean, medicated or non-medicated. I would also like to create an index for my website to make it easier for readers to find articles of interest.
In 2013 I would like to get more involved in public speaking—it’s one of my favorite things to do. I am excited to announce that I will be giving a motivational talk at the 2013 annual conference of the American College of Nurse Midwives, and I will continue to speak to nursing students in my state about Evidence Based Birth. I hope that other speaking engagements will soon follow!
Up to this point I have kept my faculty role and Evidence Based Birth blogging role completely separate. I plan to continue to do so, because this gives me complete intellectual and creative freedom at Evidence Based Birth. However, I am excited to say that my writing on this blog has recently opened doors for me at work, so that I may soon be involved in maternity care research projects.
In the end, I’d like to thank you—my readers—for supporting me and getting excited along with me about Evidence Based Birth. This space, which started out as a way for me to put my evidence summaries online, has grown far beyond my wildest dreams. Exactly where we will end up I’m not sure, but right now I am enjoying every minute of it!
Rebecca Dekker, PhD, RN, APRN