Number Crunching

When I first wrote the article that this blog post is based upon, I had just finished reading a superb book, The Tyranny of Numbers by economist David Boyle (2001). In it, he critiqued our society’s reliance on and obsession…

Vitamin K Resources

This post is a collection of links to articles and resources that I have authored on the subject of vitamin K and I have now updated it to reflect the publication of the second edition of my book – which…

Yoga on YouTube!

I’ve shared several studies relating to the benefits of yoga on social media recently, and earlier this summer I had the pleasure of joining the YogaBirth teachers for their annual retreat, in order to offer an update on birth-related research.…

The ungentle art of persuasion

One of the great things about being allowed to write in midwifery journals is that, when you come across an article or idea that pleases you, annoys you or just makes you think harder than usual, you can share those…

Objectivity and post-it notes

Over the last few years, evidence-based practice has become a standard expectation of Western health care systems, rather than a topic whose value is debated by clinicians. Concurrently, rules of convention have developed, and it has now become politically correct…

On corporatization…

“Corporatization of medicine has led to a phenomenon found in all or most industries in a corporate system: the “productivity campaign.” This is an effort to get employees to work better and faster, although the “better” quickly falls away when…

Castor oil for labour induction

A study has looked at birthing outcomes of 323 women who used castor oil as part of an attempt to induce their labour, with interesting results. The study was carried out in the US where, in contrast to countries like…

More evidence for rebozos…

I’ve been really amazed by the number of people who have been in touch to thank me for the two-part article that I have shared over the past few weeks about the evidence for rebozo use. (You can read part…

The evidence for rebozos – part 2

Last month, I shared the story of my own introduction to the rebozo: a Mexican shawl whose popularity has grown in midwifery conferences and workshops to the extent that it is now used and taught by a number of midwives…

Updated UK GBS guideline

The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists has published an update to their guidance on preventing early onset group B strep (GBS) disease. The guidance calls for all pregnant women to be provided with appropriate information about GBS to support…

What is person-centred care?

A student midwife recently asked, ‘Do you have a good explanation of ‘person-centred care’?’ Yes, thanks to a recent editorial in the British Medical Journal. “People-centered care moves away from traditional care models where care is determined by uniform procedures…

Engendering rather than endangering trust

“Heavy-handed persuasion tactics and the aggressive language of some medically-focused papers and websites on the subject of vitamin K are not only inappropriate, but they harm relationships and make it less likely that parents will reach out for help if…

Deconstructing prophylaxis

It has long been thought that ‘prevention is better than cure’ and many of the things we routinely do in our lives are aimed at preventing disease and danger. If we get into a car, we put our seat belt…

Vitamin K and the Newborn – now available!

I am so excited to announce that the second edition of Vitamin K and the Newborn, a book written to help parents and professionals understand the evidence and the issues surrounding the administration of vitamin K to newborn babies, is…

The evidence for rebozos – part 1

About 20 years ago, it was while sitting on the floor among friends at a Midwifery Today conference that I first encountered the use of the colourful woven shawls that Mexican midwives call rebozos. During a workshop led by midwife…

Understanding more about birth and story…

I often hear midwives and birth folk lamenting the way that one-sided, fear-based, sometimes mysogynistic and frequently inaccurate depictions and representations of birth permeate modern culture, and I share their concerns. Participants in my workshops and online courses note the…

Pondering Domesticity…

My grandmother gave birth to all of her babies at home. There were simply no other options (Lee and Wickham 2000). But by the time her daughters were ready to birth, just a couple of decades later, they were offered…

The words we use…

Midwives have done a lot of reflecting on their language over the last few years. While visible changes in practice inevitably take a while to evolve, there is a clear movement in the progressive midwifery literature from use of words…

Vaginal seeding – more data required?

A review article written by Danish doctors and published in the British Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology has stated that the benefits of vaginal seeding “do not outweigh the risks”. This paper and the inevitable news stories which have been…

What’s in a word?

‘Language is important and influential. I request that the Journal stop using (and letting authors use) the term obstetric when talking about midwifery care. Obstetrics is what obstetricians do, midwifery is what midwives do, and maternity care is what we…

Antibiotics and operative vaginal birth

The authors of an updated Cochrane review entitled ‘Antibiotic prophylaxis for operative vaginal delivery’ have drawn the same conclusion as in previous versions of the review: that routinely giving antibiotics to women who have forceps or ventouse births leads to…

Birth outcomes and women of size

Another study has suggested that the differences in birth outcomes experienced by women of size may be due as much to provider attitudes and biases as to any intrinsic difference or disadvantage. Ellekjaer et al’s (2017) research, carried out in…

More evidence on targeting anti-D

A study carried out in Finland has provided more evidence of how we can use fetal rhesus group testing in order to offer anti-D prophylaxis only to those rhesus negative women who are carring rhesus positive babies and thus reduce…

On birth trauma…

“Whilst for many women pregnancy and birth is a wonderful, life affirming experience, the findings from this study have highlighted how birth trauma can be experienced by women as a culmination of previous life events, pregnancy and birth trauma and…

Group B Strep: the realm of mysteries

“To study neonatal Streptococcal B infection is to enter the realm of mysteries… How to explain that microbes from maternal origin may be pathogenic for the baby? Several decades ago, we learned that, compared with the placenta of other mammals,…

The true midwives…

“Being with someone, murmuring along with their heartbeat, breathing with them, is a lost art. The true midwives of birth and death, those who keep vigil at the bedposts, are rare. They are the people whose eyes are accustomed to…

When even simple tools can harm…

A case study shared in this month’s International Journal of Obstetric Anesthesia carries an important warning message for women choosing to (and, almost more importantly, those supporting or working with women choosing to) use epidural or other forms of regional…

Informed consent – a redundancy?

“Informed consent is a redundancy, because being properly informed is a precondition of consent. Without being properly informed, a patient or client cannot give any legitimate, binding consent. Therefore, it is imperative that all professionals withhold any request for agreement…

Closeness after birth

A Finnish study exploring parent-infant closeness and separation has thrown more light on how hospital practices both promote closeness and cause separation in the first couple of hours after birth. And it’s kind of paradoxical, because the researchers discovered that,…

Exploring the Exceptions

Last month (Wickham 2016), I wrote about a principle that I was taught and have subsequently shared with many other midwives. It involves asking oneself whether offering a screening test would change one’s management, or what one would offer to…

Labour progress resources

As this post goes live, I’ll be in Queenstown, New Zealand, running my Labour Progress Workshop, and it seemed like a good opportunity to offer a summary of labour and progress related resources that are right here and freely available…

Another set of risks…

“Much, though by no means all, of what has been written and spoken around childbirth revolves around fear. Policies and practice at both national government level and local hospital level have frequently been based on the idea of ‘risk assessment’.…