Learning as much as you can about your pregnancy, labour and birth and parenting will not only help answer your questions, but help you feel more confident and involved in the decision making process.
It is sometimes hard to know what is reliable information. Everybody has an opinion, a book, or a website that they want to share with you and it can become overwhelming and confusing.
It can help to evaluate these by asking yourself the following questions:
What is the source of this information? Is it reliable? Is it biased?
Does the website provide information that is from one viewpoint or does it have an un-biased view that balances pro’s and con’s? Does the website only promote one view because it sells a product and what does it sell? Is it a website that belongs to a recognized professional organization or Canadian government health agency e.g. Health Canada.
Is it good evidence-based information?
There is evidence based information on many things and we often see a study in the news that may give advice on health matters, but not all studies provide good evidence. To decide if it is good evidence,when looking at research ask:
- How many people were in the study? (research with 10 participants wouldn’t give the same level of evidence as one with 500)
- If the study was testing the effectiveness of a drug/equipment/procedure did they use a placebo (e.g. one group tested the actual drug and the other group got a sugar pill) for comparison?
- Did the testers know if they were getting the actual treatment or the placebo (was the study ‘blinded’)?
- Was the study carried out and funded by the company that made the treatment (so there could be the possibility of bias)?
Is the information current?
With online information, ask how long ago was the study published? If you are receiving information from friends and family that had their children many years ago, recommendations may have changed as new evidence becomes available e.g. parents used to be told to place baby on their tummy or side to sleep, but new evidence shows this can increase the risk of SIDS, so parents are now advised to put baby to sleep on their back.
How will I feel if I follow this advice? Will it work for me and my family?
Every individual is different and using the information you are given from different sources and your instincts will help you make decisions.
Check out these websites for more tips on evaluating health information on the internet: