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Many recommendations in “Intrapartum care: care of healthy women & their babies during childbirth,” the latest version of National Institute for Health & Care Excellence (NICE) guidelines, support what advocates for physiologic care have long been saying about the care of healthy women having normal labors. To cite but a few examples:
“Explain to both [women who have had prior births and 1st-time mothers] that they may choose any birth setting (home, freestanding midwifery unit, alongside midwifery unit or obstetric unit), and support them in their choice of setting wherever they choose to give birth.”
“Providers, senior staff and all healthcare professionals should ensure that in all birth settings there is a culture of respect for each woman as an individual undergoing a significant and emotionally intense life experience, so that the woman is in control, is listened to and is cared for with compassion, and that appropriate informed consent is sought.”
“Encourage and help the woman to move and adopt whatever positions she finds most comfortable throughout labour.”
“Offer intermittent auscultation of the fetal heart rate to low-risk women in established first stage of labour.”
“Do not leave a woman in established labour on her own except for short periods or at the woman’s request.”
“If a woman chooses to use breathing and relaxation techniques in labour, support her in this choice. . . . Offer the woman the opportunity to labour in water for pain relief.”
“Inform the woman that she may drink during established labour [and] that she may eat a light diet . . . .”
“Discourage the woman from lying supine or semi-supine in the second stage of labour and encourage her to adopt any other position that she finds most comfortable. Inform the woman [that] . . . she should be guided by her own urge to push.”
Downloadable for free, the guidelines could be used as leverage in changing maternity care policies.