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J R Soc Med. 2005 January; 98(1): 43.
PMCID: PMC1079246

The Labour Ward Handbook

Leroy Edozien
242 pp Price £19.95 ISBN 1-85315-577-2 (p/b)
London: RSM Press.

Clinical decisions on the labour ward often have to be made quickly and the choice between management options is seldom guided by the results of randomized controlled trials. For this reason, many units develop their own set of labour ward protocols, based as much on the experience of the senior obstetricians and midwives as on published evidence. The Labour Ward Handbook is based on protocols from the Royal Oldham Hospital.

The first two sections deal with the care of pregnant women and the management of normal and low-risk labour. The third and last covers abnormal and high-risk labour, in six parts including medical and haematological aspects. We begin with those with cornerstones of good labour ward practice communication, documentation and incident reporting, often poorly covered in textbooks but well handled here. Another highly informative section is that on management of latex allery, which seems to be getting more common. If recognized too late in a patient this can lead to cancellation of elective procedures; and in an emergency it can greatly complicate the preparation of operating theatres and equipment, including anaesthetic machines. The book provides a list of all those items of equipment containing latex—some of which, such as cardiotocographic monitors—are not obvious, together with six recent references on latex allergy. I was also impressed by some of the flow diagrams, such as the one on management of a woman with a history of genital herpes.

With its numerous headings and bullet points The Labour Ward Handbook is not something one wants to read from cover to cover. Moreover, the style is dictatorial, with scant discussion of alternative options. It should be read in conjunction with the local labour ward protocol; any differences might generate useful debate on what is best practice. Though this handbook will interest obstetricians of all levels, I would recommend it especially to those sitting examinations, and those writing or updating local labour ward protocols. It is easy to use and encourages further reading with its large number of recent references.

Articles from Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine are provided here courtesy of Royal Society of Medicine Press