Knowledge is power. Know the best practices for you and your baby.

Start the dialogue by sharing these international declarations and guidelines with your care provider.

There is a growing body of scientifically sound declarations and guidelines to support the philosophy and work of normal birth. The following declarations and guidelines were developed from evidence-based research and decades of work by reputed international organisations.

Declarations

The Fortelesa Declaration,written at a conference of the World Health Organization’s Regional Office for Europe in April 1985, makes a number of recommendations based on the following principles:

- Each woman has a fundamental right to receive proper maternal care.

- The woman has a central role in all aspects of this care, including participation in the planning, carrying out and evaluation of the care.

- Social, emotional and psychological factors are crucial to understanding and implementing proper care.

The Consensus Statement from the Maternity Care Working Party  was created by The Royal College of Midwives, Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists and the National Childbirth Trust. The Maternity Care Working Party (MCWP) encourages a positive focus on normal birth. The statement calls for a standard definition of normal labour and birth so that normal birth rates can be audited and compared with confidence. The Information Centre in England has adopted a measure for normal labour and birth, called “normal delivery”.

Guidelines

The World Health Organization’s (WHO’s) “Care in Normal Birth: A Practical Guide”  is a technical report that, “identifies the commonest practices used throughout labour and attempts to establish some norms of good practice for the conduct of non-complicated labour and delivery. The report addresses issues of care in normal birth irrespective of the setting or level of care. Its recommendations on those interventions which are or should be used to support the processes of normal birth are neither country nor region specific.” This report presents WHO’s definition of normal birth and provides thorough, evidence-based reviews of common interventions.

The International MotherBaby Childbirth Initiative’s (IMBCI) 10 Steps to Optimal MotherBaby Maternity Services  acknowledges the great variety in resources and access to care around the world. The IMBCI emphasises that the unnecessary overuse of perinatal interventions has resulted in a massive increase in healthcare costs, straining resources without necessarily improving birth outcomes. In this guideline, the IMBCI discusses the following challenges of the 21st century:

-Increasing women’s access to skilled caregivers and emergency care while decreasing the overuse of unnecessary medical interventions

-Increasing understanding of normal birth and breastfeeding

-Improving the quality of care in all countries.

Note: The BBN is currently translating this guideline into Kannada and Tamil.

The Mother Friendly Childbirth Initiative’s Self Assessment Tool  is a simple, comprehensive checklist for clinical institutions interested in making their maternity services more mother friendly.

Note: The BBN is currently translating this tool into Kannada and Tamil.