By Xantha Leatham

Midwives are backing down on their decade-long campaign for natural childbirth - because they say it makes women feel like failures, the Daily Mail reports.

Pregnant women will no longer be told that they should have babies without medical intervention as part of an overhaul of professional guidance.

The Royal College of Midwives have announced they want to avoid giving the impression that interventions such as caesareans and epidurals are abnormal.


Cathy Warwick, chief executive of the college, denied that the "campaign for normal birth" which has run since 2005, has compromised the safety of women and unborn children.

She admitted, however, that it had "created the wrong idea" and would be ended.

"There was a danger that if you just talk about normal births, and particularly if you call it a campaign, it kind of sounds as if you're only interested in women who have a vaginal birth without intervention," she told The Times.

"What we don't want to do is in any way contribute to any sense that a woman has failed because she hasn't had a normal birth. Unfortunately that seems to be how some women feel."

Figures show that about four in ten women give birth "normally" without caesarean, induction, instruments or epidural - down from six in ten three decades ago.

Despite the rise in older and heavier mothers in recent years, which means more complications during birth, the college has up until now argued that more women should be giving birth without interventions.

Their drive attracted criticism following an inquiry into the death of 11 babies and one mother at Morecambe Bay Trust between 2004 and 2013.

It found that the midwives' desire for normal births "at any cost" had contributed to the unsafe deliveries.

The midwives, who dubbed themselves "the musketeers", closed ranks against doctors, believing "in all sincerity they were processing the agenda as dictated at the time to uphold normality".

Professor Warwick argued that the college was not to blame, saying she was sceptical that any midwife would have taken their normal birth campaign to mean "this is telling me I must push normal birth beyond the point of safety".

However, the college reviewed its campaign following the scandal, and Professor Warwick has since concluded that it must be replaced by a broader "better births initiative" of professional advice for midwives.

She said: "We would make absolutely sure under the better births initiative that we did use language and terminology that prevented people from thinking that we're going out there saying to midwives, 'You need to get a normal birth at all costs'."

She added that she can see how the terminology "did let people think that was the case".

Doctors have welcomed the change in language.

Lesley Regan, president of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, said it is important to stress that "no woman should be made to feel their birth experience is 'abnormal' because they needed to have an intervention."