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Birth Literacy

Last Updated on Wednesday, May 01, 2013
By Amy Dolgin
I am a mother, a nurse, a public health practitioner, and a blogger. I started my blog, Birth Literacy, to provide women and their families with evidence based information about pregnancy, birth, and the postpartum period. Birth Literacy, is my own spin-off of health literacy, a public health concept that increasing knowledge about health leads to better, more positive health care experiences.


Birth literacy is a process - we are all continually growing and learning, improving our birth literacy, and adapting our perspectives on birth. I continue to learn new things about pregnancy and birth all the time.  The more I learn, the more empowered I feel.  By providing evidence-based information, my own analysis of topic areas in the birth arena, and a venue for conversation and critical thinking about these topics, I hope to contribute to improved birth literacy.
Little is written on applying the concept of health literacy to pregnancy and birth though. In 2001, Renkert and Nutbeam discussed the application of health literacy to maternal health, noting that pregnancy and childbirth education should shift, to be "focused on the development of the skills and confidence to make choices that improve individual health outcomes, rather than being limited to the transmission of information."  This shift though, would take a considerable effort given the time limitations of typical prenatal education. This is part of the reason that a blog seemed like the right venue for addressing birth literacy. 
Through short blog posts, women and their families can gain valuable information, and read critical analyses on topics related to pregnancy and birth. I try to talk through my research in the posts as well, giving readers a glimpse into how to access and use reliable health information. The reading time is minimal, but the impact can be significant.
I hope that building knowledge and improving the birth literacy of women and their families will empower my readers to use evidence-based information in pregnancy and birth.  The term Birth Literacy is in no way meant to suggest that people are birth illiterate.  Instead, it is intended as a goal: higher levels of birth literacy contribute to more positive birth experiences.  I continue to research and write about birth in order to increase my own birth literacy, in turn, helping my readers achieve positive experiences in pregnancy, birth, and the postpartum period.
Additional Health Literacy References
  • Nutbeam, D., and Renkert, S. (2006). Opportunities to Improve Maternal Health Literacy Through Antenatal Education: an exploratory study.  Health Promotion International, 16:4, 381-388.
  • Nutbeam (1998). Health promotion glossary. Health Promotion International, 13, 349-364.


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