The World Health Organization (WHO) and the Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada (SOGC) define a physiologic birth as a one in which the infant is born spontaneously in the vertex position [head down] between 37 and 42 weeks of pregnancy and without complications for mother or baby. Yet, we are not able to predict abnormal presentations in labour. We have yet to understand the biological mechanisms initiating labour and hence lack strategies to predict or prevent preterm labour. Despite observed effects of environmental and psychosocial conditions on the course of labour, we have very little understanding of the physiology underlying these impacts. Furthermore, there is no gold standard for assessment of fetal well-being during pregnancy or labour. In Canada today, close to one third of women deliver their babies by caesarean section and one third have labour artificially induced.
To develop preventive approaches and early strategies to avoid the need for complex interventions and their sequelae leading to complications of labour and birth.
To develop an interdisciplinary research agenda among basic science, clinical, social, epidemiologic, and health services researchers that will catalyze research, training, and practice and policy aimed at promoting physiologic birth.