Two recent phenomena are causing me considerable concern. Firstly, some midwives are being criticised or disciplined for not carrying out particular clinical observations on women in labour. At the same time, increasing numbers of women seek support from doulas or others because they see midwives as too busy to support them in labour, or they see support as not part of the midwives' role. The tension between these two phenomena leads me to seek to stimulate a debate on the role of the midwife during labour. While debate is better undertaken in person, I hope this article will raise some issues of concern.