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ABSTRACT: Background:Little is known of common normal labor hospital practices in Egypt or of their relationship to evidence-based obstetrics. This study documented facility-based practices for normal labor and delivery in Egypt for the first time by categorizing 44 practices observed in a busy obstetric teaching hospital according to the World Health Organization (WHO) Technical Working Group on Normal Birth classification of normal birth practices. Methods:A multidisciplinary approach combined directly observing practices that were applied to individual laboring women and their newborns, observing ward activities, interviews, and focus groups. One hundred seventy-five normal births were observed in their entirety, over 28 days and nights, by medically trained observers using an observation checklist that documented 537 variables for each woman. Mothers were interviewed postpartum, and findings were shared with practitioners for their feedback. Observed practices were categorized according the 1999 WHO classification of 59 practices for normal birth, depending on their usefulness, effectiveness, or harmfulness. Results:There was infrequent use of beneficial practices that should be encouraged and an unexpectedly high level of harmful practices that should be eliminated. Some beneficial practices were applied inappropriately, and practices of unproved benefit were also documented, some of which are potentially harmful to childbearing mothers and their babies. Conclusions:Hospital practices for normal labor were largely not in accordance with the WHO evidence-based classification of practices for normal birth. The findings are worrying, given the increasing proportion of hospital-based births in Egypt and the country's improved but relatively high maternal and neonatal mortality rates. Obstacles to following evidence-based protocols for normal labor require examination. (BIRTH 32:4 December 2005)