This guideline covers the care of healthy women and their babies, during labour and immediately after the birth. It focuses on women who give birth between 37 and 42 weeks of pregnancy (‘term’). The guideline 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 February 2017, we reviewed the evidence on measuring fetal heart rate as part of initial assessment and on monitoring during labour. We changed and added some recommendations in section 1.4 and section 1.10.
This guideline includes recommendations on:
- choosing place of birth
- the latent first stage of labour
- initial and ongoing assessment
- transfer of care
- monitoring during labour
- care in the first, second and third stages of labour
- care of the baby and woman after the birth
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
Guideline development process
The recommendations in this guideline represent the view of NICE, arrived at after careful consideration of the evidence available. When exercising their judgement, professionals and practitioners are expected to take this guideline fully into account, alongside the individual needs, preferences and values of their patients or the people using their service. It is not mandatory to apply the recommendations, and the guideline does not override the responsibility to make decisions appropriate to the circumstances of the individual, in consultation with them and their families and carers or guardian.
Local commissioners and providers of healthcare have a responsibility to enable the guideline to be applied when individual professionals and people using services 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 complying 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.