“Attention should be paid to providing a comfortable and supportive environment to all women during labour to help them relax and feel secure. When it is possible to use fewer medical procedures in labour, with the woman’s agreement and without jeopardising safety, this should be the objective.”

Maternity Care Working Party Report




Access antenatal care and preparation courses with practical skills for coping with labour pain and birth.

  Getting prepared > >



Make it easy for women to be mobile and try different positions during labour and birth to maximise normality.

  Birthing positions > >



Shared positive attitude towards birth as a normal physiological process, and leadership can make a difference.

  Making it work > >


A service priority for improving health and outcomes

“Most women, in every country across the world, would prefer to give birth as physiologically as possible. For most women and babies, this is also the safest way to give birth, and to be born, wherever the birth setting. If routine interventions are eliminated for healthy women and babies, resources will be freed up for the extra staff, treatments and interventions that are needed when a laboring woman and her baby actually need help. This will ensure optimal outcomes for all women and babies, and sustainable maternity care provision overall.” (Professor Soo Downe, Professor in Midwifery Studies, 2014)

“RCM believes that a policy of maximising normality through pregnancy, birth and the postnatal period and facilitating maternal choice offers short and long-term health and social benefits to mothers, children, families, and communities. As midwives are expert professionals skilled in supporting and maximising normality regardless of environment or type of birth, the role of midwife is integral to any model of care in providing safe and quality maternity care.”

(Mervi Jokinen, RCM Professional Advisor, 2014)



Estimated proportion of normal births in the UK

The Maternity Care Working Party concluded that, in the UK, it is feasible to achieve a 60% normal birth rate and based on the 2011/12/13 rates across the four countries, more progress needs to be made to achieve this.



Northern Ireland







Notes:  Data has been sourced from Birthchoice UK analysis for England, Scotland and Wales using varied definitions for normal birth. As data on induction rates are not routinely collected in Northern Ireland, an estimation was made taking into account an average induction rate based on data from England, Scotland and Wales. Please note that these are to be used as guides for normal birth rates and may be changed when new information is received.