On this page there are a range of NCT resources for practitioners who are preparing women and their partners for labour, birth and the period immediately after birth. These are also relevant for health professionals and students.

NCT aims for all parents to have a positive start to family life. We want all women and men to feel prepared and supported to become confident and caring parents.

NCT has produced an introduction to the Intrapartum Care guidance (2014) which emphasises to women ‘Where you have your baby is your choice, and you should always be supported in this choice.’ And says ‘Giving birth is generally very safe for both you and your baby, wherever you choose to have your baby. Your midwife should explain that you can choose to give birth at home, in a midwife-led unit or in an obstetric unit.’ [new 2014]  This guidance is for and about women who ‘have had a straightforward pregnancy and give birth between 37 and 42 weeks’.

Gill Gyte and Kim Thomas look at the case for delayed cord clamping (2014). We are delighted that the latest NICE Intrapartum Care guideline says ‘Recognise that the time immediately after the birth is when the woman and her birth companion(s) are meeting and getting to know the baby. Ensure that any care or interventions are sensitive to this and minimise separation or disruption of the mother and baby. [new 2014]  The guidance also now says to midwives and doctors that when active management is used, in usual circumstances, ‘Do not clamp the cord earlier than 1 minute from the birth of the baby’ and if a woman wishes to make an informed choice to have physiological management this approach should be used [new 2014].

Interest in the management of early labour has increased in recent years. Women who are admitted to hospital before labour has become established are more likely to have their labour augmented, to choose epidural analgesia and to need operative help to birth their babies, rather than those who are admitted later. Read more in the article by Mary Nolan, Professor of perinatal education at the University of Worcester Encouraging women to stay at home in early labour (2012).

Many parents are concerned that their baby will be born with the umbilical cord around his neck (nuchal cord) and associate this scenario with danger and complications. Midwife Rachel Reed assesses the risks of a commn condition in A nuchal cord is rarely a problem: dispelling a common myth (2013).

Working with pain in labour (2010), an overview by Professor of Midwifery, Nicky Leap, presents the case for developing a ‘working with pain’ approach to the care and support of women during labour. It sets out the rationale for this approach before comparing it with widely held beliefs and practices in the UK. Evidence to support a working with pain approach is presented.

Cynthia Masters-Waage, Miriam Schofield and Natalie Misaljevich explain how NCT doula training prepares students to take on the role of providing practical and emotional support to mothers and their partners during the birthing process.

Eating and drinking in labour (2007) is a briefing paper reviewing the evidence on the consumption of food and drink by women during labour and updates the evidence discussed by the authors previously.

Third stage of labour part 1 Physiological third stage (2006) is the first of a two-part briefing on the third stage of labour. Part 1 includes:

  • the physiology of normal placental separation
  • how the baby adapts to life outside the womb
  • physiological management of the third stage
  • possible problems and ways of responding.

Third stage of labour part 2. Active management (2006)  Part 2 includes:

  •  what is meant by the ‘active management’ of the third stage of labour, the usual method of managing thethird stage in maternity units in the United Kingdom
  •  how active management affects the mother and baby, including both the advantages and disadvantages
  • some of the other forms of management used in the third stage, including delayed active management and mixed management.

In a Perspective article, Denise Stanford-Bell outlines the different routes the third stage of labour can take, focusing on key questions parents may have.

Active management of labour (2003); Episiotomy and the perineum (2003); Use of the partogram in labour (2003); Epidural (2002); Induction of labour (2002)

Key publications on issues surrounding birth in the UK are available from government and other professional bodies. These are highlighted below with links to the relevant publication.

Government and professional body publications

Full clinical guidance has been produced by The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) on Intrapartum care , induction of labour and routine anti-D prophylaxis for rhesus negative women.

The Perinatal Mortality 2009 report, published in 2011, presents the UK-wide perinatal mortality statistics for 2009 from the Centre for Maternal and Child Enquiries (CMACE). It shows that in the last ten years the stillbirth rate and the overall neonatal mortality rate has decreased. The findings suggest that obesity, ethnicity, social deprivation and obesity continue to be risk factors for perinatal mortality.

More recent statistics on perinatal mortality have been published for Wales and Scotland. All Wales perinatal survey: annual report 2013 (2014) and Scottish perinatal and infant mortality and morbidity report 2012 (2014).