UK midwives promoting new deadly lie in an effort to maintain market share

Word Lies on black background

The deadly UK midwifery Campaign for Normal Birth has been thoroughly discredited by harrowing reports of dozens of perinatal and maternal deaths, nearly £2 bn in liability payments, and the shocking admission that the UK is paying more to support the babies injured by maternity providers than to actually provide care. In response to the demise of the Campaign for Normal Birth, UK midwives are pressing a potentially deadly “Campaign for Normal Post-Birth.”

And just as the Campaign for Normal Birth was based on the self-serving lie that unmedicated vaginal birth is “best,” the new campaign is based on the self-serving lie that babies and mothers suffer irreparable harm if separated in the first few hours and days after birth.

[pullquote align=”right” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]UK midwives are always promoting themselves while piously pretending that they have the best interests of babies and mothers at heart.[/pullquote]

Consider this presentation by Michele Upton discussing the ATAIN initiative (Avoiding Term Admissions Into Neonatal units) at a recent midwifery conference. The foundational lie is front and center:

There is overwhelming evidence that separation of mother and baby so soon after birth interrupts the normal bonding process, which can have a profound and lasting effect on maternal mental health, breastfeeding, long-term morbidity for mother and child.

That is a bald-faced lie though no doubt Upton believes it. There is precisely ZERO evidence for those claims. Everything we know about maternal-infant bonding tells us that it is spontaneous and is NOT contingent on specific behaviors. There is ZERO evidence that brief periods of separation have ANY effect on maternal mental health, breastfeeding or long term morbidity for mother and child.

In fact, there’s a mountain of data demonstrating the opposite. Multiple generations of infants were born while their mothers were fully anesthetized and spent most of their hospitalization in the newborn nursery. There is no evidence that had any impact on bonding, maternal mental health or long term morbidity for mother or child. But I guess if you have no regard for the truth, you might as well make your lie spectacular.

That’s what UK midwives did with their foundational lie for the Campaign for Normal Birth. As articulated by Midwifery Prof. Soo Downe:

Most women, in every country across the world, would prefer to give birth as physiologically as possible. For most women and babies, this is also the safest way to give birth, and to be born, wherever the birth setting. If routine interventions are eliminated for healthy women and babies, resources will be freed up for the extra staff, treatments and interventions that are needed when a laboring woman and her baby actually need help. This will ensure optimal outcomes for all women and babies, and sustainable maternity care provision overall.”

There is precisely ZERO evidence that “most women” would prefer to give birth without interventions. Indeed, when allowed access to pain relief in labor, more than 60% of women choose it. There is ZERO evidence that avoiding interventions is the safest way to give birth. Midwives were in charge of birth for most of human existence. They avoided interventions and perinatal and maternal mortality rates were astronomical. And if the evidence from the campaign itself shows anything, it shows that the Campaign for Normal Birth led to preventable deaths, coverups and massive liability payments.

What’s going on here? Why are midwives promoting programs that harm babies and mothers?

The key to understanding midwives behavior is this: they are always promoting themselves while piously pretending (even to themselves) that they have the best interests of babies and mothers at heart. They believe wholeheartedly, despite all the evidence to the contrary, that midwives are the key to optimal maternity care.

The real issue is midwives’ desperation to keep control over patient care. The Campaign for Normal Birth was based on the self-serving lie that keeping obstetricians away from women was “best.” The campaign for “normal” post-birth is based on the self-serving lie that keeping pediatricians away from babies is “best.”

Upton explains that although the birth rate in the UK decreased from 2011-2014, the admission of term newborns to neonatal units increased dramatically. She notes that hypoglycemia and jaundice (both preventable sequelae of aggressive breastfeeding promotion) are among the major reasons for admission. She fails to draw the obvious conclusion that relentless promotion of exclusive breastfeeding is harming babies.

Her discussion of hypoglycemia is particularly chilling.


Noting that 30% of babies admitted for hypoglycemia were admitted at less than 4 hours of age, of whom half were less than an hour of age, Upton concludes that these admissions could have been avoided by … NOT testing for low blood sugar! If you don’t take a temperature you can’t find a fever, right? It seems never to have occurred to her that midwives were testing these babies because they showed SIGNS of hypoglycemia like hypotonia, lethargy, poor feeding, jitteriness and seizures.

Upton reveals the real goal of promoting “normal” post-birth in this slide:


Unthinkable not to have service and staffing models which keep mothers and babies together.

Actually, what’s unthinkable is the self-serving notion that midwives can and should handle of aspect of care for every mother and baby regardless of who is injured or dies in the process.

Childbirth is inherently dangerous. There is no greater risk of death in the entire 18 years of childhood than on day of birth. Babies die from birth injuries and difficulties making the transition to life outside the uterus. Midwives couldn’t prevent those deaths during the milennia in which they maintained control of childbirth and there’s no evidence that they can prevent those deaths now. Only obstetricians and pediatricians can do that.

Keeping doctors away from babies as a matter of principle may be best for midwives but it is definitely not best for babies and mothers. Indeed, it is deadly!