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