Midwives won't promote the idea of "normal births" anymore in a bid to prevent pregnant women who receive medical help from feeling like they've "failed."
Since 2005, the Royal College of Midwives (RCM) has run a "campaign for normal birth" encouraging women to have their babies without epidurals, inductions, and caesareans.
However, this campaign is now being abandoned. From now on, midwives will use the term "physiological births" rather than "normal births" when discussing options with pregnant women.
"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," the RCM's chief executive, Professor Cathy Warwick, told The Times. "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."
The RCM's campaign attracted criticism following a 2015 investigation into a maternity unit at Morecambe Bay in Cumbria. The investigation found that midwives' determination to pursue so-called normal childbirth "at any cost" was part of a "lethal mix” of failings that caused the unnecessary deaths of one mother and 11 babies between 2004 and 2013.
Speaking to the The Times, Professor Warwick dismissed the idea of a link between the Morecambe Bay failings and the RCM's campaign.
"I am very sceptical that any midwife would ever have looked at what we were saying under the heading of a normal-birth campaign and thought, 'This is telling me I must push normal birth beyond the point of safety'," she said. "Clearly some midwives were identified as doing that at Morecambe Bay but I’ve got no evidence that was fostered by anything the RCM was doing."