Happy Holidays!

Happy Holidays!  This is my last post of 2016 … as ever, we are going to turn off our computers and turn on the festive away message over the holidays. What a year it has been! We’ve had so much…

What do women think of due dates?

A survey of pregnant women planning a hospital birth in Australia offers interesting food for thought in relation to women’s views and knowledge about the ‘due date’ and the timing of birth. As many readers of my work will know,…

The madness of modern measurement

Cassie, who has given me permission to tell her story and who chose her own pseudonym, became pregnant via IVF. She was thus one of those women who know the exact date when they conceived, and she and her midwife…

Research on breech birth in an upright position

A new and groundbreaking research study has found that, “Upright vaginal breech delivery was associated with reductions in duration of the second stage of labor, maneuvers required, maternal/neonatal injuries, and cesarean rate when compared with vaginal delivery in the dorsal…

To feel, or not to feel?

A midwife friend asked me recently whether, during a baby’s birth, I routinely felt for the cord around the baby’s neck as it emerges. I replied that I didn’t, not least because I tend to be quite ‘hands-off’ about catching…

On burnout…

“Health-care organisations should move beyond a culture of endurance, which overvalues stoicism and dismisses complaints as signs of weakness, and help clinicians be better at self-care than they are at present. 21st-century patients demand more than in the past, rightfully…

Midwives matter more than monitors

I had only been a midwifery student for a few months when I first heard the late, great Marsden Wagner speak about the lack of evidence for electronic fetal heart monitoring (EFM). At the time, he told us, more than…

A much needed revolution

“Centralisation, standardisation and market economics have been the dominant concepts in maternity care over recent years. Organisationally, NHS maternity care has been centralised into large units based on an industrial model where care is highly fragmented. Standardisation of services is…

Birth in Focus

I get sent lots of books, because of what I do. I always tell people who ask me, you’re welcome to send me your book, but regardless of whether I know you or any other factor, the independence of my…

EFM and conflicts of interest

“So the question is why would the BRPOs* of the world ignore obvious evidence of EFM harm, ignore informed consent, ignore the violation of mothers’ bioethical autonomy, and ignore the reality that most of the birth profession is lying daily…

The importance of everyday birth wisdom

I love research papers that tell me things I already know. I especially love those that tell me things I already know about everyday midwifery practice that I don’t think about on a daily basis but which, when I read…

Let there be mood lighting…

There can’t be many midwives or birth supporters who don’t already know about the advantages of low lighting for labour and birth. While we are still learning about whether and how darkness and light relate to the release of oxytocin…

More on consuming placenta…

A few weeks ago, I shared a two-part article that I had written about the practice of consuming the placenta (you can read part one here and part two here) and the lively discussion that followed highlighted one key thing:…

The ALTE mysteries

I [have previously] shared my frustration regarding the bias against normal birth and the ability of women’s bodies to grow, carry, birth and feed their babies (Wickham 2016). As is often the case when one starts to pay attention to…

Risk: what is to be done?

“[R]isk has come to be defined as narrowly as possible, while there is a real and growing sense of concrete risks which overwhelm the poorer and more vulnerable on a daily basis. Within what Nicolas Rose, another sociologist calls the…

Midwives, resilience and sustainability

A discussion paper on sustainability and resilience in midwifery has highlighted the importance of self-care, self-determination, relationship and passion in midwifery (Crowther et al 2016). The research was led by a team of authors who have worked on past and…

A cautionary holiday tale

Rudolph the red-nosed quantity surveyor looked up at the camera as he pressed the bell which would let the midwives know that he was at the labour ward door. A friendly but almost unintelligible voice greeted him over the speaker…

The risks of documentation

“Documentation of care is at risk of overtaking the delivery of care in terms of time, clinician focus, and perceived importance. The medical record as currently used for documentation contributes to increased cognitive workload, strained clinician–patient relationships, and burnout. We…

The stages of labour – bunkum!

“There are only two definite, unarguable times in this messy, fluid and unpredictable process of childbirth: when the baby is born and when the placenta comes out. The rest is bunkum! Yet our computers insist we fill in boxes that…

Happy Midwives’ Day!

Happy Midwives’ Day! I’m spending International Day of the Midwife in Reykjavik where I’m discussing Recipes for Normal Birth with lovely Icelandic midwives, but I wanted to send my happy midwives’ day wishes out to my friends all around the…

Pondering placentophagy – part 2

This is the second part of an article in which I am reflecting upon our knowledge about placentophagy; an area in which we have no conclusive evidence of benefit or harm (Coyle et al 2015).  As my pondering continued, I…

The false economy of “busy-ness”

“Place shapes the ability of midwives to “be with” women. In the labour ward, strong cultural norms press midwives to engage in “busy work” while they feel more able to sit quietly with women in primary birth settings. Midwives are…