Is there such a thing as Too Much Information?
A point where overwhelm means overcome?
Is it possible that blissful ignorance
Protects us from being The One?
The One who has a bad time,
The One who gets The Lot,
The One who is disappointed
The one whose birth was shot.
And what does it mean to be ignorant?
And going with the flow?
Accepting all that might happen,
because it’s too much to know?
Handing over power – Leaving dignity at the door
Birth will happen to you – Expect no less or more
Is Medicine the only arena, where Too Much occurs?
Where The Knowledge is held too tightly by The Few qualified experts?
Indeed, is it just in Birth, where women are expected
To do as they are told for fear of being rejected?
Is it only women who are discouraged from learning all they need to know?
Or are others also subjected to this appalling show?
From where I am sitting, Too Much is not the worry,
The question needs to be: is it enough, and why the hurry?
What is Information Overload?
Unsurprisingly, many women prefer to ‘go with the flow’ or willingly hand responsibility to a care provider. Information overload occurs when we feel overwhelmed and impacts our ability to make informed decisions. Information Overload, however, is not a matter of too much information.
There are two main issues regarding information overload: the quality of the information and the time to digest it.
There is so much varying information out there, much of it contradictory and full of bias, that it can be challenging to know where to begin seeking information. For many, in pregnancy, we default to our care providers. Our modern maternity system tends towards invention rather than support, without fully disclosing how a recommended intervention changes your pathways. In this case, the provided information is within a narrow context, without enough detail, limiting our options and ability to make a confident decision.
If you try to do your research, you may be overwhelmed by the number of articles, websites and blogs and need help knowing where to begin. How do you filter the quality information from the rubbish?
How do you know what to ask when you don’t know what you don’t know?
Standard Maternity Care often unfolds on a ‘need-to-know’ basis, with decisions made in time-critical circumstances. Appointments during pregnancy are often too short to discuss the options thoroughly, and if we do not know what questions to ask, we are often unable to contribute to these discussions. There are 11 different models of care in Australia, and within those models, over 800 different approaches. It is often the benefit of hindsight which reveals the things we should have asked.
How to avoid information overload
We must have time in advance to consider the various pathways to know where we are and where we can go. We need resources that respect our autonomy and time to digest and contextualise information.
There is No One Way, and it can be hard to determine Your Way in a system that assumes we are all the same. Here are 5 ways you can find your way.
When you are exploring new information, keep these questions in mind to help determine its value:
Reliability – who wrote it, is it well written; who said it, why and based on what?
Is it selling ‘a quick fix’ and suggests you can’t achieve your goal without it?
Is it sponsored (beware the formula company giving breastfeeding ‘advice’)?
Does it have an ‘agenda’? Is this agenda in your best interest, or is there some benefit to another being favoured?
How does this information fit with your current understanding? Does it challenge it or reinforce it?
How do you feel about it?
Decisions based on fear are not informed. We can use our fears to guide our research. We can use our assumptions as a starting point. When beginning our research, our questions may be along these lines:
What do I fear most?
What do I currently understand, and are these assumptions or facts?
What is the ‘agenda’ of the resource?
What personal circumstances influence my decision?
What are the repercussions of my decision?
How do I feel about other people’s decisions?
The last question is the most interesting.
If you feel strongly about people concluding differently to you, consider these questions:
What do you fear?
What are your main concerns?
Does it make you worry that your decision is ‘wrong’ or that their conclusion will affect you?
It is important to explore challenging issues fully. When you reach a point where you feel comfortable with your conclusions and unconcerned by others, then you can pat yourself on the back and rest assured that you have made the right decision for your family.
Join the Free Member Access
The Birth Map (in flipbook format) and a digital version of The Game of Birth can be accessed in the free member area, along with resources to help you start your research more confidently.
My book, The Birth Map, evolved in response to this all-too-common situation. We need to know in advance what the pathways look like to recognise where we are as our journey unfolds and be ready to decide where we need to go. Take time to understand The Flows of Modern Birthing; birth is not as random as we are led to believe. It is possible to consider the various pathways and understand which pathway may be better for us.
I created The Game of Birth to help demonstrate the aspects we can and can’t control. This way, as our birth unfolds, we are better equipped to make informed decisions.
The conclusions are yours to make, always.