The World Health Organisation on Thursday recommended several changes in child birth procedures including giving the woman more time to give birth to a child and reducing medical interventions. WHO’s department of reproductive health and research issued 56 suggestions including advising practioners to treat each birth on a case-by-case basis.

“If labour is progressing normally, and the woman and her baby are in good condition, they do not need to receive additional interventions to accelerate labour,” said Dr Princess Nothemba Simelela, WHO assistant director-general for family, women, children and adolescents.

The department dismissed the previous benchmark set for cervical dilation rate at 1 cm per hour during the active first stage of labour as unrealistic for some women. Every labour and childbirth is unique and that the duration of the active first stage of labour varies from one woman to another, the department said.

The report raised concerns about the increase in use of medical interventions that should only be used to avoid risks or treat complications, such as oxytocin infusion to speed up labour or cesarean sections.

The WHO’s recommendations included maintaining respectful care and good communication between women and health providers and allowing women to make decisions about their pain management, labour and birth positions and natural urge to push.