Svetlana EkimenkoAll materialsWrite to the authorThe Royal College of Midwives (RCM) published “safer sleep” guidance on Wednesday for those sharing a bed with their newborns, making no reference to “women” or “mothers”.The Royal College of Midwives (RCM) was forced to issue an apology after a backlash over its newly-published “safer sleep” guidance. The RCM released the guidance on Wednesday, aimed at helping those who have given birth and share a bed with their newborns get to sleep. As it described key aspects that healthcare professionals should discuss with families during pregnancy and after birth, the publication made no reference to “women” or “mothers”. Instead, it referred to “postnatal people” throughout the guidance. “Postnatal people in hospital should have easy access to the call bell system, be shown how to use it and ensure it is working – they should be provided with a bed-side cot for the baby to use while in hospital,” stated the manual.
The RCM guidance triggered a wave of criticism on social media, with Milli Hill, a freelance journalist and self-described “champion of female biology”, slamming the group for “making no mention of women or mothers… .”
Others on social media followed suit, denouncing the “uselessly vague” term.
On Thursday the guidance was removed from the RCM website, with the group issuing an apology for “erasing” women.
RCM, a charity for maintaining and improving standards of professional midwifery, whose chief executive is Gill Walton, is a member of the contraversial Stonewall Diversity Champion programme. The paid-for scheme touts itself as aiming to help firms “become more inclusive of LGBT people”.
Following its U-turn, Milli Hill said it was “really important to support the RCM” because “in this highly sensitive area it is very difficult to publicly admit you have made a mistake”.