The Reporter
Issue 499, 7 June 2004
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Could women labour to better effect at home?

Jo Green, Helen SpibyAre women who go into hospital early in labour at greater risk of assisted birth, such as by Caesarean, forceps or vacuum? Two major studies aim to discover how women can be supported at home in early labour to maximise chances of normal delivery.

Mother and Infant Research Unit researcher Jo Green (pictured, left) said: “There is evidence to suggest that some women arrive in hospital earlier than they need to and in the context of rising Caesarean rates we want to find out if different environments can have a beneficial effect.

“The literature suggests that the later in labour a woman arrives in hospital the more likely it is she will have a normal birth,” she added.

The first study, the early labour support and assessment trial, will compare the experiences of first-time mothers given midwife support at home in the early stages of labour with those who have usual care. Usual care often means going to hospital to be assessed and frequently being sent home again or kept in when not necessary.

A sample of 2,500 women and 300 midwives in six Yorkshire hospitals will be involved, beginning this summer.

A second study, options for assessment in early labour, will investigate services in other parts of the UK. The study will evaluate women’s experiences of a new approach in Wales, of which one part is early labour assessment and telephone support. There will also be a survey of heads of midwifery services in England to map new approaches. The study is headed by Helen Spiby (pictured, right) and supported by the National Childbirth Trust and the Royal College of Midwives.

Women will not get the choice to have a Caesarean without counselling about the risks and benefits, according to guidelines produced for the NHS in April which aim to reduce unnecessary surgery. Some senior obstetricians criticised the move as denying choice to women over how they deliver their children.

Page owner: | Updated: 7/6/04


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