This article describes the process of developing consensus on a definition of, and best practices for, normal physiologic birth in the United States. Evidence supports the use of physiologic birth practices, yet a working definition of this term has been elusive.
We began by convening a task force of 21 individuals from 3 midwifery organizations and various childbirth advocacy and consumer groups. A modified Delphi approach was utilized to achieve consensus around 2 research questions: 1) What is normal physiologic birth? and 2) What practices most effectively support its achievement? Answers to these questions were collected anonymously from task force members during multiple phases that included a preliminary briefing, an initial face‐to‐face roundtable, 9 iterative Delphi rounds, and reciprocal feedback from a wider audience of stakeholders at national and international conferences. Content analysis identified specific statements and concepts in the first Delphi round, which were subsequently ranked in following rounds. An initial draft was constructed based on the priorities that emerged and presented for feedback to peers and childbirth advocates whose comments were incorporated into the final document.
Four key themes were identified from our initial questions; these provided the framework for the document: 1) definitions of normal physiologic birth, 2) mechanisms and outcomes of normal physiologic birth, 3) factors that influence normal physiologic birth, and 4) recommendations for increasing normal physiologic birth. These areas comprised the final sections in the multi‐organizational consensus statement.
The modified Delphi approach we employed allowed for the development of a consensus statement that will serve as a template for education, practice, and future research in maternity care. The completion of this statement marks the beginning of a project to promote systemic changes that support normal physiologic birth, and thus, have the potential to improve outcomes for mothers and infants.
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Kennedy, H. and M. Cheyney, M. Lawlor, S. Myers, K. Schulling and T. Tanner. (2015) The Creation of a Consensus Statement by the ACNM, MAMA, and the NACPM: A Modified-Delphi Study on Normal Physiologic Birth. Journal of Midwifery and Women’s Health 60 (2):117-232.