Recent research indicates that atraumatic ‘normal vaginal birth’ only occurs in 33–40% of women who intend to achieve a vaginal delivery, depending on how the term ‘normal birth’ is defined. In contrast, the NSW birth policy continues to promote ‘normal birth’, suggesting that the majority of women will achieve ‘normal birth’ and that ‘normal birth’ produces optimal maternal outcomes. Our continued use of the term ‘normal birth’ may be outdated. This article will consider the term ‘normal birth’ with regard to history, politics, policy and obstetric practice, and recommend a reconsideration of terminology.