Avoiding Brain Injury in Childbirth (ABC) collaboration

Improvement approaches and interventions

Maternity staff, parents, and birth partners are invited to share their views, experience and expertise.


Sub-optimal monitoring and response to fetal heart rate changes have been repeatedly identified as one of the most common contributors to preventable harm. When there are concerns about a baby’s wellbeing during labour, maternity staff need the right tools and support to be able to provide the highest quality of care. Just as important is communicating effectively with women and their birth partners and making sure they are listened to and involved in decisions about their care.

ABC is a unique collaboration between the Royal College of Midwives, Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, and THIS Institute, which aims to develop a nationally agreed approach for monitoring and response to fetal wellbeing during labour.


ABC will co-design with staff, women and birth partners a nationally agreed approach for the monitoring of and response to fetal wellbeing during labour. Using THIS Institute’s innovative platform, thiscovery.org, maternity staff and parents will participate in ABC by sharing their ideas, views, experience and expertise and giving feedback as tools and systems are developed. We will use a wide range of methods to generate this feedback, including surveys, interviews, in-situ simulation and workshops.

This work will establish a new approach for improved identification, escalation and action on fetal deterioration. ABC will also support development of a new protocol for complications that can arise with positioning of the baby at caesarean section, specifically when the fetal head becomes impacted.

Funding and ethics

This project is funded by the Department of Health and Social Care and received ethics approval from the University of Cambridge Psychology Research Ethics Committee.