COST Action IS1405

Building Intrapartum Research Through Health – an interdisciplinary whole system approach to understanding and contextualising physiological labour and birth (BIRTH)

Getting maternity care right for mothers and babies is vital for all countries and societies. It is important to reduce avoidable deaths and ill health.

However, it is also crucial that interventions designed to reduce risk for the few mothers and babies who develop complications are not used for mothers and babies who are healthy. Over use of interventions and drugs routinely can be harmful, and uses up resources that should be focused on those who need them.

Despite this, there are very high, and highly-variable rates of childbirth interventions across Europe, that, in some countries, are way above the safe levels proposed by the World Health Organisation.

Part of the problem is that there has not been much research on what makes childbirth go well (as opposed to what makes it go wrong).

The BIRTH COST Action brings together over 100 scientists, artists, professionals, activists, political stakeholders and service users from around 30 countries in Europe and beyond, to try to understand the range and limits of normal childbirth physiology in different populations, individuals, and contexts. It includes five key areas:

  1. Biomedicine (epigenetics and the hygiene hypothesis)
  2. Biomechanics (maternal and fetal movement)
  3. Socio-cultural perspectives (social expectations and experiences, including marginalised and migrant populations)
  4. Organizational perspectives (the effect of organizational contexts and cultures on variation in rates of childbirth interventions)
  5. Neuro-psycho-social perspectives (how inter-personal actions and behaviours affect physiological processes)

Babies Born Better is a long term project examining the views and experiences of women who have given birth in the last 5 year. The aim of the Babies Born Better project is to become a major resource for the improvement of maternal and childbirth care around the world. By finding out what works, for whom and in what circumstances, the project data will provide insight into best practice during birth.