Prepared by: Dr Sophie Goyet
Reviewed by: Dr Maria Healy
21 February 2019
In October and November 2018, a discussion happened among the members of the Midwifery-research network around the need to elaborate an action to support normal birth in the UK and globally. In preparation of a meeting, which will be organised as a side-event to the conference, we have summarized this online discussion.
Genesis of the idea
On 29 October, Lesley Page observed that the midwifery profession in UK was ‘at a critical point’, with ‘much progress over recent decades, progressive government policy, but huge difficulty in implementing it into the NHS in England’. She also noted that ‘interventions rates are rising and free standing midwifery units closing to move staff to centralised services’. Luci Rocca, on the same day, added that, to her, ‘midwives’ autonomy [was] being at risk in the current climate’.
On 30th October, Alison Macfarlane circulated documents showing that ‘England Childbirth is changing in a nonevidence based direction’. She commented that, with the number of spontaneous births decreasing, there was a risk to see midwives being replaced by obstetric nurses. She pointed out that it was ‘very hard to understand whythe large body of evidence supporting midwifery care and the midwifery model of birth has failed to alter this trend.’
On 31st October 2018 Alison underlined: ‘We have a choice between letting it happen and become obstetric nurse assistants to obstetricians or to take some action’. Sheena Byrom (7 Nov.) added that in the UK, midwives are criticized regarding their language and are ‘no more allowed to use the term ‘normal birth’.
Replying to these exchanges, Gillian Meldrum called for the creation of ‘an international & national normal birth strategy with a co-ordinating body’ on Nov 1st.
Need for a Global Action to Support Normal Birth
Gillian’s call was echoed by several networkers. Susan Crowther (8 Nov) wrote that a global reach initiative was needed ‘to reclaim the term ‘normal birth’ and provide strategies and structured teaching and assessing tools’. As others, she underlined that ‘the foundations of knowledge are there, we have the evidence’ and added: ‘There are various local and national initiatives/guidelines over the years but a proactive global reach would be inspiring.’