The routine data being collected should enable services to describe the nature and prevalence of interventions in labour and birth for births recorded as normal or spontaneous or physiological, for women and babies with or without known complications at labour onset.
It is through the regular scrutiny of the statistics, the nature of the births recorded as normal that we can seek to look at trends in this area. Comparative normal birth rates should be available for women who have no known complications planning and starting their care in different care settings (home, freestanding birth centre, alongside birth centre, hospital unit), using the principle of ‘intention to treat’.
The lack of consistency in the use of the term means that audit, service development, and research studies that are focused on this area of practice may under-represent the degree of technical and pharmacological intervention in labour and birth. This could adversely affect decision making about future maternity service design and provision, and about the nature and impact of childbirth on mother and baby in the short and longer-term.