Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Social Media and midwives

Two of my precious grand-daughters, Poppy and Amelie
I want to declare my interest in the use of social media by midwives.

This blog site provides ample evidence of my commitment to and fascination with openly available websites. This blog is a notice board; a library; a magazine; an ongoing journal of my opinions and comments about midwifery and about life.   It is also an ongoing record of special people in my life, such as the two precious little girls pictured today.

I began this blog in 2006, and it sat, unused and dormant, until mid-2007. At that time I felt a strong need to communicate with young women, particularly those who searched the internet for information in preparation for the births of their babies, and I realised I could do this as a blogger. From time to time over the years I had received emails, usually from women in other countries, thanking me for The Midwife's Journal, which they had found on my old website. A woman from Holland referred to The Midwife's Journal, which had been written at least 10 years prior (ie before the word blog existed in my vocabulary, at least), as a 'blog'.

It occurred to me then that I could continue The Midwife's Journal as villagemidwife, the blogger.

These are the headings from that new beginning [link]:
  • Natural birthing in Australia today 
  • The culture of birthing 
  • Vaginal breech birth 
  • Who let the dads in? 
  • Nurture and nourishment of the newborn baby 
  • Paternal behaviours 
  • Mother-infant bonding, and maternal instincts 
  • Giving birth 
  • The life of the unborn child in the womb, and imprinting at birth 
  • Commenting on some of life's big moments 
  • Midwife for Christ’s birth 
  • You are free, my dove 
  • The homeborn newborn: how do mothers manage breastfeeding when there's noone to show them what to do? 
  • Protecting normal birth 
  • Why protect normal birth? 
  • Birth Trauma 

The regulator for health professionals in this country has announced a review of its social media policy:

The National Boards will consult publicly on social media policy in coming months The National Boards in the National Registration and Accreditation Scheme (National Scheme) will release a consultation paper on a social media policy in October/November 2012.

A draft of the social media policy has been released as a preliminary consultation paper to targeted stakeholders for initial feedback, ahead of a wider public release. The preliminary consultation process aims to ‘road test’ the initial draft to weigh operational impact, issues or initial concerns. We are pleased that this early draft is generating a lot of interest, especially on social media. National Boards are monitoring feedback closely and will take the issues raised into account when refining the draft social media policy before it is released for public consultation on the National Boards’ websites.

If you would like to contribute feedback on the preliminary draft social media policy, please email your considerations to socialmediaconsult@ahpra.gov.au by close of business 14 September 2012. When the formal public consultation process opens, the National Boards encourage feedback from registered health practitioners and members of the community on the draft social media policy. The National Boards will publish the public consultation document on their websites, and will encourage wider distribution to seek extensive feedback.

Until then, visit the News section of the National Board websites (via www.ahpra.gov.au) for updates on past and current consultations, general communiqu├ęs from National Boards, media releases and more.

I have read the draft policy, which reminds health practitioners that in using social media, we must comply with the National Law, Advertising Guidelines and the code of conduct.

Midwives who in recent years had published testimonials at their websites have found themselves being directed to the law that prohibits the use of testimonials.  Birth Stories, on the other hand, seem to be permitted.

There will be times when I have used experience from real life in my writings, and it is possible that some of those who read my accounts may at times recognise the woman, even if I have been careful not to identify her. Whether this could, in a narrowly defined mindset, be seen as a breach of privacy, is yet to be seen.

There is nothing sinister about blogging, or any other aspect of social media, per se.  The medium is neither good nor bad: it's simply a medium.  The content is what can be anything from wholesome and useful, to trivial navel gazing self absorption, to defamatory and destructive.   The author has the ability to communicate in a way that is useful, or not.  I hope to continue writing in this medium, and I hope there are readers who value the material posted and thoughts expressed.

Your comments are, as always, welcome.

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