The Real Birth Company promotes understanding of birth and is working to narrow inequalities in maternity care. It has a nationally accredited training programme for midwives and an antenatal programme for women and their birth partners.

Its Real Birth Digital Workshop is a user friendly, animated, and easily accessible tool. It provides mothers-to-be with the essential support that they may not have otherwise received. This birth preparation resource gives women a deeper understanding of their birth, options, as well as choices using current evidenced-based information, shared positively and factually.

The Real Birth Company won the award for Innovation in Helping Address Health Inequalities at the Innovate Awards 2023. Here is a video clip of CEO Zoe Wright speaking at the award ceremony.



I am really excited to see this module roll out nationwide. I truly believe this tailored and much needed information will help to prepare and equip women like myself who went through the fear and uncertainty of preterm birth. It was a pleasure to take part and I’m glad that our experiences as a Lived Experience Team (LET) will help to shape such a vital medical provision.


Zoe Wright, CEO and midwife

What the project involved

This innovation provides equity of access through audio guides in several languages. It takes users through 119 lessons over 11 modules on the various stages of labour, caesarean, and preterm birth. To create the content, the project has involved service users, lived experience teams, as well as clinicians. It has also involved our in-house development team, which created the digital programme, co-created the audio guides, animations, along with methods to analyse the data. This data supports us to evaluate the effectiveness of our programme, as well as the ability to be responsive to the needs of those accessing it.

The programme links into any digital maternity notes system or hospital app. It can be accessed directly through a woman’s hand-held digital notes, or via a unique QR code using Android, iPhone, tablet or computer. Alternatively, where someone is digitally excluded, the programme can be downloaded and printed off. Our continuing development involves co-creation with service users of new modules where the evidence-based information is regularly reviewed and updated and presented in a holistic way, supporting findings from the 2020 Ockenden Review and NICE guidance on birth planning conversations.


While there has been a reduction of antenatal education, as well as a shortage of approximately 2,500 midwives in the NHS, The Real Birth Company, with Network support, has been able to step in to provide provides mums-to-be with the support that they may not have otherwise received.

The Digital Workshop has reached over 11,000 women, 10.8% of those being from ethnic minorities and 4.5% under 16 years of age. After completing the programme, 66.1% of women reported they had a vaginal birth versus NHS average of 50%. Meanwhile, 24% of women used water for birth versus the 5% NHS average, and only 15% of women used pethidine as analgesia versus 25% NHS average. These, in turn, also bring costs savings to the NHS.

Next steps

The service is now hyper-localising so that hospitals can share with their maternity community, information specific to each site, enabling better informed choice. For example, in its module titled ‘Giving birth to your baby’ there are Trust pdf documents and images of their birth rooms. It also means that in modules such a ‘Giving birth to your baby early’ mothers have area specific information about which units in the area offer which levels of care to preterm babies.

To support this hyper-localising, and to narrow inequalities in maternity care, SBRI Healthcare, an Accelerated Access Collaborative initiative, in partnership with the Health Innovation Network, awarded the company £495,154.  This will be for the implementation, evaluation and development of The Real Birth Digital Programme, creating hyper-personalised childbirth information tailored for marginalised groups.

The programme will support enhanced birth preparation information by creating a personalised application, adapting to individual healthcare needs for improved access. It will promote equitable access by being available in audible multilingual guides and British Sign Language.

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