I was asked last week what websites I would recommend to student midwives, where they could find free access to evidence-based information to use in clinical practice and also to support their academic studies. So here are my top 10 suggestions, in no particular order.
1. National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence: http://www.nice.org.uk
NICE is a collection of clinical guidelines, research reviews and recommendations for health care. The NICE guidelines for maternity care are often quoted and include recommendations about ante natal, intrapartum and post natal care, hypertension in pregnancy, electronic fetal monitoring, induction of labour and cesarean section.
2. Cochrane database: http://www.thecochranelibrary.com
The Cochrane database of research reviews is considered to be one of the top sources of research evidence. It contains 401 reviews of research pertaining to pregnancy and childbirth. Whilst many consider the Cochrane reviews as "gold standard", there have been critiques of the methodology that reviewers use. For example, there have been concerns that several of the breech reviews are carried out by one of the main authors of the Breech Term Trial which has been largely discredited.
3. Royal College of Midwives: http://www.rcm.org.uk
The RCM website has free access to up to date news and research in its monthly magazine and professional journal "Evidence Based Midwifery". It also links to the RCM Supporting normal birth website which has heaps of resources about normal birth including the Top 10 Tips to supporting normal birth.
4. New Zealand College of Midwives: http://www.midwife.org.nz
The section of the NZCOM website I would pay most attention to is the consensus statements. Covering topics from family violence to the third stage of labour, the consensus statements give a clear over view of the issue and evidence-based recommendations. Of course they have a New Zealand context, but none the less may be used by midwives in other countries. And if nothing else, they have useful references that may be followed up.
5. RANZCOG: http://ranzcog.edu.au
The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists regularly release information leaflets and guidance statements about a large number of topics pertaining to childbirth. I have to admit that sometimes I do not see eye to eye with what they say for example, RANZCOG recommends active management of third stage of labour for all women whereas I believe there are times when it is appropriate for women to physiologically birth the placenta and membranes. Nevertheless, the RANZCOG website is a good source of information for midwives practicing in Australasia.
6. Pubmed: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed
Pubmed is a huge database of medical journals and resources run by the U.S. National Library of Medicine. Whilst many of the journals will only give you access to abstracts, Pubmed does include journals that have free access to full articles.
7. Midwife Thinking: http://midwifethinking.com
Rachel Reed is a midwife, midwifery educator and PhD student. Rachel is building a lovely blog full of reasoned discussion and evidence-based information. What I love about the way Rachel writes is she puts things in a way that anyone can understand without being patronising. I especially have enjoyed her recent posts on induction of labour and VBAC.
8. Google Books: http://books.google.com
The problem with books is that the time they hit the book shelf they are often out of date, and by the time they become fully available in Google Books this is even more true. However, some maternity text books are seminal books that stand the test of time but are not necessarily easy to access or cheap to buy. Having said all this, I always think its good to check what you can find on Google books - whilst a book may not be fully available, it's surprising how much information you can find.
9. YouTube (http://www.youtube.com) and Slidehare (http://slideshare.net)
I know there is a lot of rubbish on YouTube and information that is either mis-information or does not suit one's own practice context. But more and more educators and practitioners are posting informative videos on YouTube which are very useful. The same applies to Slideshare, which is like YouTube for PowerPoint presentations.
10. Maternity Care Discussion Group email list: To subscribe, email mkd(at)cfpc.ca
This email list is moderated by Dr Michael Klein on behalf of the College of Family Physicians of Canada. I think this email list has been a bit of an open secret. It is aimed at GPs but midwives are flocking to it because of the resources that are shared and the quality of discussion around research into maternity care. Student midwives are not encouraged to interact on the list, but you are very welcome to join, lurk and learn.
What sources of information of resources would you recommend to student midwives? What have you found useful?
Image: 'Melissa and Cara at Ayla's birth'