15th February, 2018
Health professionals should trust women’s ability to give birth naturally, WHO says in new guidelines that aim to reduce medical interventions in delivery rooms.
The guidelines were presented on Thursday in Geneva.
The UN agency said over the past 20 years, there has been a significant rise in the use of methods to manage the birth process, such as infusions to speed up labour or caesarean sections.
WHO said while these interventions are meant to help women and their babies, they can have negative effects.
“The increasing medicalisation of normal childbirth processes are undermining a woman’s own capability to give birth and negatively impacting her birth experience,” said Princess Nothemba Simelela, who leads the WHO family health section.
She said if labour progresses normally, and the woman and child are in good condition, there is no need for additional steps.
According to WHO, most of the 140 million babies that are delivered each year happen without complications for mothers and their newborns.
The new guidelines stress that every childbirth is different, dispelling a rule of thumb that medical intervention is needed unless the cervix expands at a speed of one cm per hour.
Health workers must respect women’s wishes during childbirth, even if medical interventions are needed, the UN agency says in its new recommendations, which now include breathing techniques and music.