‘They/them’ in the birth room
It's not just women who are giving birth in the birth room. Here, Dr Sally Pezaro reflects on how we may be missing important opportunities to support the birthing transgender community more effectively
As an academic midwife, I care about doing research which supports and improves the high-quality delivery of maternity care. Successful research must also have a positive impact upon the world, otherwise we must question why we are doing it in the first place. Having said that, research is a journey of discovery in which we are constantly learning and evolving our thinking in light of new evidence. Yet it isn't just evidence that steers the direction of new research and the development of new research questions. Patient and public involvement (PPI) can also shape the design of future research projects and ensure that everything remains focussed upon what matters most. As such, I try to engage a diverse range of people in the research projects I am involved in. I do this predominantly online.
In one example, we asked new mothers how they viewed the workplace distress of midwives (Pezaro et al, 2018). In a more recent case, we invited people with hypermobile Ehlers-Danlos syndrome (hEDS), or the related hypermobility spectrum disorders (HSD), to complete a poll and share their views on what questions should be asked in an international survey relating to their childbearing experiences. In both of these instances, we were enlightened by the responses and engagement we received. Evidently, what researchers think they may know, can often change when they speak to those who form the subject of their inquiry.
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