Objective: To define for women at low obstetric risk methods of management that respect the rhythm and the spontaneous course of giving birth as well as each woman's preferences.
Methods: These clinical practice guidelines were developed through professional consensus based on an analysis of the literature and of the French and international guidelines available on this topic.
Results: Labor should be monitored with a partograph (professional consensus). Digital cervical examination should be offered every 4 h during the first stage of labor, hourly during the second. The choice between continuous (cardiotocography) or discontinuous (by cardiotocography or intermittent auscultation) monitoring should be left to the woman (professional consensus). In the active phase of the first stage of labor, dilation speed is considered abnormal if it is less than 1 cm/4 h between 5 and 7 cm or less than 1 cm/2 h after 7 cm. In those cases, an amniotomy is recommended if the membranes are intact, and the administration of oxytocin if the membranes are already broken and uterine contractions are judged insufficient (professional consensus). It is recommended that pushing not begin when full dilation has been reached; rather, the fetus should be allowed to descend (grade A). Umbilical cord clamping should be delayed beyond the first 30 s in newborns who do not require resuscitation (grade C).
Conclusion: The establishment of these clinical practice guidelines should enable women at low obstetric risk to receive better care in conditions of optimal safety while supporting physiologic birth.
Keywords: Guidelines; amniotomy; labor management; normal delivery; oxytocin.