Let's look at RISK!

Understanding risk in pregnancy and childbirth is really important. If you have had your booking appointment (usually between 8-12 weeks) the chances are you have already been labelled either high risk or low risk. And yes I loathe the term ‘risk’ as it implies that birth is a risky business. ‘Chance’ would be better!

Anyway, language aside it’s really important how information surrounding interventions and a change to our plan of care are presented to us.

Relative Risk vs Absolute Risk

‘If your child is wearing a dark coloured coat they are twice as likely to not be seen by a car driver whilst crossing the road than if they were wearing a bright coloured coat. This is relative risk and it’s essentially USELESS information!

‘2 in 1000 children who wear a dark coloured coat will be involved in an accident. In comparison to 1 in 1000 children who wear a bright coloured coat’.... This is ‘absolute risk’ and gives us a far better picture and understanding of what MIGHT happen. This is how everything should be presented to us in pregnancy and childbirth.

If we dig even deeper it is ideal if the supporting research can also be discussed. For example (and sticking with the children in coats scenario) how big was the cohort size 100 children or 10,000 children? Was it dusk? Raining? How long had the drivers been driving cars? What kind of accident did they have? Was the child seriously hurt or got away with a scratch?

All followed up with how applicable the research is to you - for example actually, maybe your child does wear a dark coloured coat but it has reflective strips on it after all.

Apply all of the above to your pregnancy, ask what the absolute risk is and how it applies to you specifically. Saying something ‘doubles’ makes us think ‘25% to 50% DANGER!!!!’ When in actual fact it may be ‘0.1% to 0.2%. Knowing the actual figures may completely change the decisions that you make, which in turn can change everything! Please also remember that everyone will perceive and deal with ‘risk’ differently. Do what you feel is right for YOU and don’t go phoning a friend or ask the audience.

(please note that I made up the actual figures surrounding the colour of children’s coats. But it has been scientifically proven that your child is much more likely to be seen in a bright coloured coat when crossing the road and bonus points if it also has reflective strips).

PS. My boys walk around in bright coats and we got nicknamed the traffic light family last year because they had red, yellow and green coats

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