To the public the practice of midwifery seems timeless with a steady story of progress, increased knowledge and professional practice with added support from modern medicine, science and surgery.
A steady straight line of improvement in mortality, clinical practice and understanding. But that is not the case. Modern maternity practices, adopted since the early days of the NHS are being radically reviewed, questioned and revised as new insight and understanding of biology and bacterial science challenges existing practice.
One of these is the practice of cord clamping and cutting the umbilical cord. A practice previously undertaken immediately is now understood to interfere with an important transfer of blood from the placenta to the newborn baby, blood rich in vital inherited bacteria and stem cells, completing the birth process.
Amanda Burleigh sets out the challenge of changing deeply entrenched clinical practice and highlights the important reasons why guidance is being changed and midwifery practice needs to change. At the same time this stem cell rich blood is sought after by scientists working in regenerative medicine and parents seeking to set aside stem cell carrying blood against future risk of disease or organ failure. Reconciling these demands is a challenge for midwives everywhere.
Neil Stewart, Editorial Director.
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