This is a really important topic, because as anyone who has googled anything, ever, could tell you, if you search far enough, you can find 'evidence' to support almost anything.
Firstly, let me strongly recommend you listen to the Great Birth Rebellion podcast episode on finding and interpreting research with Hannah Dahlen. You can listen to it here (or search for it on your preferred podcast platform).
Now, there's a couple of things I want to address. There will be research in journal articles that is not robust or reliable, just as there will be blogs and social media accounts that are backed by incredibly strong and trustworthy research. Unfortunately, we live in a time where there is so much information everywhere, and it can be so tough to wade through it and know what you can rely on and what you can't.
There's a lot more to it than just this, but a couple of general rules I like to use are:
asking whether or not the information I'm reading, watching, or listening to is referenced or referencing studies or research. If it's not, I can already call into question the legitimacy of the information - it doesn't mean that it's not evidence-based info, but it is also much easier to say simply whatever you like if you aren't going to provide a source for it.
investigating the author or person behind the information - do they have experience or credentials in this field? what other information have they produced? does the information they are providing seem to serve an agenda that is questionable?
is this something I've come across from a source I know to reputable? For example, a blog post that isn't referenced but has been shared from a researcher I trust who almost exclusively shares robust research?
who else is talking about this information? does anyone else seem to be aware of it? does it directly contradict information that I have seen backed by strong evidence?
And look, just because something isn't referenced, doesn't make it bad information. For instance, I am very guilty of not referencing everything I post on social media because I'm often in a rush when I'm putting my social posts together! Often I'm throwing a post together based on something I'd read earlier in the week and don't always have the time to find it again. Or it's something I've read or heard from one of my go-to reputable sources (list below!) and so I haven't really dug deep into the research because I trust that that person is sharing evidence-based information. However, I would expect that anyone reading my posts would approach them with reasonable reservations where there was no reference for the information I was sharing.
So, those are my top tips when it comes to research, but my final tip: when on the internet, question everything. I really liked something Hannah Dahlen says in the GBR podcast episode about what she does when she comes across research that seems to completely align with her beliefs, which is to flip that entirely and go over it again with the most critical view possible and find every little thing wrong with it or weak spot within it. This is such a valuable perspective to take, because it's so easy to stop questioning something that is exactly your beliefs or opinions.
Now rather than going over all of the information that the above linked podcast ep goes through (honestly, have a listen!) I'm going to give you a run down of some of my favourite places to go for evidence-based information that I know is solid.
Cochrane is an amazing resource. They essentially create a summary of all the research they can find on a topic and give a conclusion on the topic based on the available research, and they do so in with a plain text summary that easy to read and understand. Cochrane are considered to be the gold-standard in health research reviews and are extremely reputable sources for information.
(This is also a handy one to know about, because if you're reading something from a more independent source and they reference a Cochrane review, you can have reasonable confidence in their information)
Blog & Book
This blog is run by renowned midwife, academic, researcher, teacher, author, and birth advocate Dr. Rachel Reed. She regularly updates her blog posts as new research is published. She also has a very excellent book called "Why Induction Matters" (as well as her incredible "Reclaiming Childbirth as a Rite of Passage", based on her PhD research) and co-hosts The Midwives' Cauldron podcast (mentioned below).
Blog and podcast
This blog and subsequent podcast is kind of like an independent Cochrane but looking at all studies and research (Cochrane just looks at randomised controlled trials). Rebecca Dekker, the founder, is a PhD and RN and started Evidence Based Birth blog after becoming frustrated with the lack of evidence-based care women were receiving in pregnancy, birth, and postpartum. She pulls all manner of research together, investigates the quality of the research and gives an overview and interpretation of it making it super accessible to laypeople and birth workers alike.
Blog, Social Media, Books
Sara is a researcher and midwife from the UK who keeps an excellent blog, regularly updated, and also several easy to digest and quick to read books on common questions and issues that arise in pregnancy, birth, and postpartum. Her social media frequently shares snippets from her books and blogs, and new research as it is published - her social accounts are worth following for that reason alone! Her books on topics such as induction, anti-d, GBS, and more are valuable resources, heavily referenced and super accessible.
Dr. Sarah Buckley is a GP, researcher, and mother, who keeps a great blog and has a fantastic book titled "Gentle Birth, Gentle Mothering". She is a PhD candidate and her research focuses heavily on the hormones of birth physiology and the effects of disrupting those hormones.
Dr. Kristen Small is an obstetrician who is also leading the way in research on CTG monitoring of mothers and babies in labour. She has a brilliant blog which addresses many of the concerns, assumptions, and preconceptions about CTG monitoring and is well worth following as she continues to delve into this topic.
This podcast is co-hosted by Katie James (midwife and IBCLC) and Dr. Rachel Reed (mentioned above) and they frequently invite guest speakers who are experts in their specific fields to be interviewed on various topics related to pregnancy, birth, and postpartum. They are a fabulous team (always a few laughs listening to the two of them!) and they have a wealth of knowledge between them as is, much less including those they bring in to speak on different subjects. This is a really accessible, excellent resource.
Another fabulous podcast to engage with evidence-based information is the Great Birth Rebellion (which I mentioned above in this blog post) run by Dr. Melanie Jackson (midwife and researcher) and B from Core and Floor Restore (midwife, PhD candidate) both mentioned separately below. Similarly to the The Midwives' Cauldron, the two have abundant knowledge and experience between them, but also regularly invite other experts to come on and discuss their field of expertise. They also have a mailing list for their podcast which you can sign up to and gain access to all of the research they mention in their podcast - such a fantastic resource for birth workers without journal access and even parents-to-be to be able to print and take research articles with them to appointments if they need or want.
This is Dr. Melanie Jackson's social media handle and she is all about sharing evidence-based research and information in small, easily absorbed chunks. A great social media account to follow to keep abreast of various research. Find her on Instagram, Facebook, and YouTube.
And B's social media accounts - very similar to Mel's, always evidence-based, great depictions and explanations of the research at hand and discussing a wide variety of topics related to birth, pregnancy, postpartum, and womanhood. She's on Instagram, Facebook, and YouTube.
Hannah Dahlen is another excellent social media presence - she is often sharing new research as it is published, and always gives her analysis of the quality of the research and the conclusions the authors have made. She is one of Australia's most prolific midwifery researchers in her own right, so definitely knows what she is talking about and well worth following. Check her out on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.
There you have it! I hope this blog has given you some more confidence in knowing where to find reliable, accurate, and evidence-based information.
My name is Katelyn Commerford and I am a doula and next birth after caesarean guide who has completed comprehensive doula education, dedicated to continuous learning. If you want to know more about what I do and how I can help you, please visit my website (where you can get your free cheat sheet of my favourite VBAC resources!), or find me on instagram @thenbacguide where I answer commonly asked questions about planning the next birth after caesarean and share loads pregnancy, birth, postpartum and parenting content.
Business Name: Katelyn Commerford - Doula and NBAC Guide
Phone: 0431 369 352