Northern Ireland Normal Labour and Birth Care Pathway: an evidence based guide for decision-making and practice

Maria Healy, Patricia Gillen

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contributionpeer-review

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Background:The recent development of Regional Guidelines for Admission to Midwife Led Units in Northern Ireland pointed up the need to update the Normal Labour and Birth Care Pathway. This Pathway aims to provide a structured, evidence based framework for normal labour and birth. De Luc (2000) has reported that pathways enable staff to focus on and improve evidence based care provision. A pathway of care is not intended to be prescriptive but to act as a guide, encouraging clinical judgment, accurate and concise documentation in partnership with the woman/and her partner/significant other.Method:An important element of the work was securing buy-in from multidisciplinary maternity stakeholders including leaders in midwifery policy and practice and also individual service users and service user groups. More than 40 individuals were actively involved in either the Steering (n=21) or Working Group (n=22). The starting point was the Normal Labour and Birth Care Pathway currently used in one of the Trusts and in one of the other regions of the UK. This included many elements of good practice but required updating and streamlining. This involved much discussion, debate and challenge.Outcome: The regional version of the Northern Ireland Normal Labour and Birth Care Pathway is now available in each Health and Social Care Trust Maternity services and is available online at regional hand held maternity care records are currently being updated to include this evidenced based pathway of care. The pathway will be included in in-service education for midwives on guidelines for admission to Midwife Led Units. This presentation will be of interest to midwives from across Europe as it focuses on the promotion of normality in partnership with women and their families; a core element of contemporary midwifery practice.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationUnknown Host Publication
PublisherRoyal College of Midwives
Number of pages1
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 1 Jun 2016
Event5th European Midwives Association (EMA) Education Conference - Queen Elizabeth 11 Conference Centre London
Duration: 1 Jun 2016 → …


Conference5th European Midwives Association (EMA) Education Conference
Period1/06/16 → …

Bibliographical note

Reference text: De Luc, K. (2000) Care pathways: An evaluation of their effectiveness. Journal of Advanced Nursing, 32,2 485-496.

Healy, M. and Gillen, P. et al (2016) GAIN Northern Ireland normal labour & birth care pathway, Guideline Audit Implementation Network, RQIA: Belfast


  • Midwife Led care
  • Midwife led Units
  • Normal labour
  • Straightforward pregnancy


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