Midwives agree to drop 'normal births' campaign as it makes women 'feel like failures'

Nicola Harley
Royal College of Midwives drop

Midwives have dropped a campaign to encourage "normal births" and will no longer urge women to have babies without medical intervention.

The 12-year long campaign has been dropped by the Royal College of Midwives after it "made women feel like failures". In an overhaul of its guidance to professionals, it is seeking to dispel the myth that caesareans and epidurals are abnormal.

Prof Cathy Warwick, chief executive of the college, last night conceded that the campaign had "created the wrong idea" and would be ended.

Chief Executive of the Royal College of Midwives Cathy Warwick  Credit:  John Nguyen/JNVisuals

"There was a danger that if you just talk about normal births, and particularly if you call it a campaign, it kind of sounds as if you're only interested in women who have a vaginal birth without intervention," she told The Times.

She added: "What we don't want to do is in any way contribute to any sense that a woman has failed because she hasn't had a normal birth. Unfortunately, that seems to be how some women feel." She denied that the policy had compromised safety.

The latest figures reveal four in 10 women give birth naturally, without caesarean, induction, instruments or epidural. Three decades ago, 60 per cent of women gave birth naturally.

The campaign had received criticism after a mother and 11 babies died at the Morecambe Bay NHS Trust between 2004 and 2013.

It was revealed that midwives' desire for normal births "at any cost" had contributed to unsafe deliveries. The scandal prompted the college to review its campaign and Prof Warwick has decided it should be updated.

"If you have a caesarean section, it doesn't mean that you're a failure. Something has happened in your birth that means you need some help and support and it can still be a very positive experience," she said.

She also said midwives would be adopting phrases such as "physiological birth" rather than "normal birth".

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