Valerie Gommon Midwife’s Blog

Archive for the ‘www.nice.org.uk’ Category

The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) are suggesting that midwives carbon-monoxide test women to check whether they are smoking – http://bit.ly/bTmg83.  Is this helpful or “policing”?

NICE suggest that every expectant mother should be tested during her pregnancy to enable smokers to receive advice on quitting.  Whilst this might be a positive intervention there is also concern that some women may not engage with midwives if they are seen to be “policing” and judgemental.  It is certainly something that will need careful consideration and sensitive handling as many hard-to-reach clients are also smokers and it would be easy to alienate these women further.

The NHS has made huge attempts to help women stop smoking http://smokefree.nhs.uk/smoking-and-pregnancy/

A baby born to a smoker is:

  • Twice as likely to be born prematurely
  • More likely to suffer from placenta problems around the time of birth
  • Three times more likely to be underweight at birth (even if born on time)
  • More likely to be a victim of cot death.

Whatever stage of pregnancy it is never too late to give up – you and your baby will benefit immediately.  You can call the NHS Pregnancy Smoking helpline 12pm to 9pm, 7 days a week 0800 169 9 169


The first thing I should say is that Induction of labour is not an easy option and should, in my opinion, be avoided if at all possible.

There are many debates about when women should be induced – the NICE (National Institute of Health and Clinical Excellence) suggest that women should be OFFERED induction at between 41 and 42 weeks of pregnancy www.nice.org.uk/nicemedia/pdf/CG70quickrefguide.pdf

Of course there may be medical reasons for an induction, and these should carefully be discussed with your midwife and doctor, however there are also risks associated with induction, for example you are more likely to have a longer, more painful labour after an induction and you are more likely to need some help for example a ventouse or forceps delivery or a caesarean section.

If it is agreed that an induction is preferable, I would urge you to try “alternative” methods or induction before resorting to a surgical induction https://midwifevalerie.wordpress.com/2008/12/09/alternatives-t…ital-induction/

Although methods of induction vary slightly from area to area, the principles of a “surgical” induction will involve you going into the hospital where you will first be checked over (blood pressure, urinalysis, abdominal palpation), your baby’s heartbeat will then be monitored for a period of time to ensure that the baby is well and that it is safe to proceed with an induction.

You will then be assessed internally to ascertain the best and safest method to induce you.  If it is your first baby and you are not yet in labour it is likely that the doctor will prescribe a drug called “Prostin” which is inserted into your vagina to soften your cervix with the aim of starting labour.  (Prostin is an artificial preparation of the hormone prostaglandin which is naturally present and involved in the labour process.)

Your baby may well be monitored for a period after the insertion of prostin – we want to ensure that s/he suffers no adverse reaction to the drug, – the monitoring is performed by placing two elastic belts around your abdomen to hold a “transducer” (a plastic probe) onto your tummy to obtain a print-out of the baby’s heart pattern (this is just a glorified version of the sonicaid that the midwife uses antenatally to listen to your baby).

Once the midwife is reassured she will be happy for you to get up and perhaps go for a walk or go to the hospital restaurant – it is a good idea to eat as you will need lots of energy when you are in labour!  Some hospitals will also allow you to go home and wait for labour.

Prostin does not always work first time, indeed often women need two, three or sometimes more doses and these are usually repeated at 6 hourly intervals.

An alternative to prostin is to break your waters – this can only be done if your cervix has already started to open – this is more likely if this is not your first baby, or if you have had prostin which has started the process but not put you into labour.

Breaking the waters is not particularly painful, although it can be very uncomfortable.   The midwife or doctor will need to do an internal examination and will attempt to “pop” the bag of waters that your baby is inside.  We use a plastic hook and literally try to burst the balloon of water!

Very often after the waters have broken labour will naturally start within a couple of hours, so again we wait … you can go off for another walk (are you getting a sense of the timescale here … an induction can go on for several days, so don’t expect things to happen in a hurry!).

If at this point the woman still is not in labour we usually suggest giving her a drip with a drug called synotocinon which usually starts uterine contractions.  These contractions are frequently more painful than a natural labour and because we are giving a drug we will also need to continuously monitor the baby’s heartbeat meaning that you are somewhat constrained in your movements (you can still stand by the bed or sit in a chair though).

In a few cases despite all our best efforts none of this will work and we proceed to a caesarean section.

Despite my doom and gloom, many women who are induced successfully labour and go on to have a normal birth, but to give yourself the best chance of a normal birth think carefully about whether an induction is right for you.  The decision as to whether you are induced or not should be made by YOU, in consultation with your doctor and midwife, remember it is your body and your baby, you have the right not to be induced.  A normal pregnancy is defined as between 37 and 42 weeks – so you are not even overdue until you get passed 42 weeks!

More information can be found in “Induction – do I really need it?” available from www.aims.org.uk or as always I am very happy to speak to you info@3shiresmidwife.co.uk

Despite Government policy to increase the number of births taking place at home or birthing centres, figures produced by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) show that the number of births taking place at home fell from one in three in 1955, to just one in 40 by 2006.  This is partly because the shortage of midwives often means that women are not offered a home birth, or have it cancelled at the last minute and are forced to go into hospital.  Only this week I have heard that homebirths have been cancelled in some areas.

Since 2006 there has been an increase in home births however, despite the rise, only 2.5 per cent of births in 2006 were at home, compared with 30 per cent in the Netherlands.

As a midwife I know that not all women and offered the option of home birth, and there certainly is a shortage of antenatal appointment time to facilitate adequate discussion to enable couples to make an informed choice about where to have their baby.  Indeed in recent years the NICE Antenatal Care Guidelines have recommended a reduction in the number of antenatal visits for low risk women. http://www.nice.org.uk/nicemedia/pdf/CG62FullGuidelineCorrectedJune2008.pdf

With the many benefits to being at home:

* Shorter labours

* Increased likelihood of normal birth

* Less likelihood of needing forceps/ventouse/caesarean

* Less need for pain relief

* More likely to breastfeed

* More likely to be happy with experience

* Less likely to experience postnatal depression

it is hard to understand why more babies are not being born at home.

A common concern from my clients is “what if something goes wrong” – my answer is that things rarely go wrong in a hurry during a labour – midwives are trained to monitor the progress of labour and if things are not progressing normally then it is perfectly possible to calmly transfer to hospital, no drama.  There is no evidence that it is safer for women with low risk pregnancies to give birth in hospital.

Women giving birth at home are more likely to have one-to-one care from a midwife they know and who has contributed to their antenatal care.  This can help labour develop normally, reducing the risk of “failure to progress”, fetal distress and the associated medical interventions.

I often find that during the course of a pregnancy the couple gradually learn more and recognise the benefits of remaining at home.  Another thing I often say is that they can decide where to give birth in labour.  They can start out at home, if things progress well and they feel comfortable they can decide to stay at home, but if at any time they feel they would prefer to transfer to hospital then that is fine.  I believe the best place to give birth is where the mother feels safest and most relaxed and for many women that is at home, after all hospital is not a relaxing, intimate place.

I would encourage you to learn all you can about birth, ask your midwife, attend good birth preparation classes, have a look at www.homebirth.org.uk and consider having your baby at home.  If your local hospital says that homebirths are cancelled, as difficult as it is I would urge you to tell them that you are having a planned home birth and ask them to send you a midwife.  Unless women (and midwives) get political nothing will improve.


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