This guideline covers the care of healthy women and their babies during labour and immediately after the birth. It helps women to make an informed choice about where to have their baby. It also aims to reduce variation in areas of care such as fetal monitoring during labour and management of the third stage of labour.

In November 2016, we reviewed the evidence on the effectiveness of midwife-led continuity models and other models of care, and deleted a recommendation about team midwifery.


This guideline includes recommendations on:

Who is it for?

  • Healthcare professionals
  • Commissioners and providers
  • Healthy women who have had a straightforward pregnancy and give birth between 37 and 42 weeks of pregnancy

Is this guideline up to date?

We are carrying out an exceptional review of the guidance on fetal monitoring in this guideline (publication expected February 2017). This is being done as part of work on a new guideline on intrapartum care for women with existing medical conditions or obstetric complications and their babies.

Your responsibility

The recommendations in this guideline represent the view of NICE, arrived at after careful consideration of the evidence available. When exercising their judgement, professionals are expected to take this guideline fully into account, alongside the individual needs, preferences and values of their patients or service users. The application of the recommendations in this guideline is not mandatory and the guideline does not override the responsibility of healthcare professionals to make decisions appropriate to the circumstances of the individual patient, in consultation with the patient and/or their carer or guardian.

Local commissioners and/or providers have a responsibility to enable the guideline to be applied when individual health professionals and their patients or service users wish to use it. They should do so in the context of local and national priorities for funding and developing services, and in light of their duties to have due regard to the need to eliminate unlawful discrimination, to advance equality of opportunity and to reduce health inequalities. Nothing in this guideline should be interpreted in a way that would be inconsistent with compliance with those duties.

Commissioners and providers have a responsibility to promote an environmentally sustainable health and care system and should assess and reduce the environmental impact of implementing NICE recommendations wherever possible.

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