There are plenty of old wives' tales and misconceptions about childbirth - the most enduring of which being that women in labour need to push.
But a new midwife-led programme is working to dispel this myth by encouraging women to slow down during delivery and consider alternative positions.
Designed by staff at Medway Foundation Trust in Kent, the protocol has reduced cases of traumatic tearing from seven per cent to just one per cent of patients, and successfully cut unintentional damage caused to the body during delivery by 85 per cent in some maternity wards.
It was initially created in response to a call for action by the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG) and the Royal College of Midwives following an disturbing upsurge in severe perineal tearing affecting nearly 14,000 women in 2013 to 2014.
Nine in ten women suffer some form of tearing during childbirth and in more serious cases this can even lead to incontinence and lifelong nerve problems.
It’s something that Dot Smith, head of midwifery at Medway Foundation, blames on the misconception that women in labour need to push.
“When we saw 22 cases of third-degree tears in a month, we said, ‘‘This is not good enough,” she told the Daily Mail.
Instead, the new guidelines encourage women to try alternative positions such as standing, leaning or giving birth on their knees and coaches women to breathe through contractions in place of pushing.
Midwives are also discouraged from pulling out the baby during delivery and instead supporting the baby’s weight as it emerges to reduce pressure on the perineum.
With impressive results so far, the new programme has been so successful the results have been published in the European Journal Of Obstetrics & Gynaecology And Reproductive Biology and plans are in motion to roll it out nationally.
Register for free to continue reading
Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism
By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists
Already have an account? sign in
Join our new commenting forum
Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies