A readers response to the article: How would Mary Poppins fare in labour? Practically perfect? 

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Dear editor,

I have just read the article in on ‘How would Mary Poppins fare in labour? Practically perfect Unlikely’ (Bolger et al 2018). I presume the autors will receive some backlash and it is unfortunate that they may not have considered the effect the title of this paper may have.

The title of the article is potentially misleading and I just wonder where it came from and if there is a common understanding for the term ‘perfect birth’. The term physiological birth might be more appropriate as the normal birth debate has moved on to ‘unique normality’ (Downe 2006) and ‘optimal birth’ (Kennedy, H.P. 2006) as there is an increasing recognition that all women are entitled to feel that their birth experience is unique, optimal and special. The recent WHO (2018) recommendations on intrapartum care for a positive childbirth experience acknowledge this: http://apps.who.int/iris/bitstream/handle/10665/260178/9789241550215-eng.pdf;jsessionid=AD975DE7D70D59AA3A791DF5EB75254E?sequence=1

As you are probably aware there are extensive debates about the levels of intervention in contemporary maternity care, and even studies on women who commence labour spontaneously and experience a range of interventions, it might be useful to compare the findings of this retrospective study with some contemporary studies. Of particular relevance is a survey in the UK on Labour Interventions (RCM 2016) https://www.rcm.org.uk/sites/default/files/Labour%20Interventions%20Report.pdf

The data collected is of value and will be useful for health care professionals and women to be aware of the various interventions that are commonly used in maternity hospitals but this information should be presented without judgement or bias.


Rhona O’Connell PhD RM

Rhona O’Connell PhD RM
School of Nursing and Midwifery
Brookfield Health Sciences Complex
University College Cork
Cork T12 AK54
Phone: + 353 21 4901466
Email: [email protected]