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Kirstie Allsopp and the NCT - what do you think?(319 Posts)
Last week, journalist and MN blogger Linda Geddes accidentally ignited a heated debate when she appeared on the Today programme discussing NCT classes with a representative from the organisation. Fellow MN blogger Kirstie Allsopp - who's been critical of the NCT before - was listening in, and fired off this tweet:
"Turn to BBC Radio 4 for talk of a book about all the absurd myths surrounding pregnancy & birth. More NCT b****** as usual though. Lots of people have good NCT experiences, but many don't. This is a very politicised, dogmatic and in my experience, scary organisation."
As she's done previously, Kirstie argues that the NCT is so focused on natural birth that they are letting down women who don't want, or aren't able, to have one by failing to prepare them - with the result that mothers who have Caesareans (for e.g) can feel stigmatized. Here's her blog post - fellow MN bloggers In a Different Voice and When The Baby Sleeps have also posted on the subject.
What do you think - do you agree with Kirstie, and if not, why? Tell us if you blog about this - and if you don't have a blog (why not? ) let us know what you think here on the thread.
Not my experience at all. I'm sure there are many criticisms that can be levied against the NCT but you can't deny that they have done much to change the birth experience for the better.
The NCT in my region only has classes in the monied areas, it's overpriced nonsense that you can get cheaper elsewhere.
Also their 'babies should sleep through the night from 6 month's "factsheet" really gripped my shit.
I agree with Kirstie and have waxed lyrical about my awful experience at NCT classes. However, I think it's down to the individual course instructor.
Though they do offer very hefty discounts to those who cannot afford it, in my experience it was very middle class women who attended - not a problem for me as I'm middle class but it is exclusive in that aspect. To balance that comment though I also went to the local NHS maternity department anti natal classes and the mums there were all middle class too.
I did get a huge amount from the class I attended but most other Mums I have spoken to about it only went to meet other pregnant mums and make friends for life.
Not my experience at all. My NCT teacher spent a significant amount of time talking (positively) about C-sections in our course, and explaining who would be involved and what they were all doing. 2 of our 8 went on to need C-section births and were very grateful for the NCT preparation they'd received.
My youngest is 10 so this goes back a bit, but I was certainly intimidated by the nct and avoided it completely.
I had 2 emcs and failed to bf for more than a few days. The NCT literature, that I read, implied that I could have had a natural birth and bf until the dc were two if only I had tried harder.
Maybe they have got better?
I am in Scotland - there isn't an NCT class available near me.
Our instructor was very good, but she had 4 children and was pregnant with her 5th, so definitely knew what she was talking about. I didn't feel that she was too focussed on just vaginal birth at all and had had 4 csections herself, talked us through induction, pain relief options, etc. It was great actually.
She did say on several occasions that she didn't feel comfortable pushing natural birth, but she did offer lots of helpful advice on doing things that would assist with one - like keeping moving during labour, and finding a good position for the birth.
I did definitely get the impression though that she was very much an exception. When we had the BF class of the course someone else came to teach that, and this other woman had a totally diffrent and very patronising attitude
I avoided NCT because I believed them to be everything Allsopp accuses them of being. They're dogmatic and prescriptive, so not my cup of tea at all. They seem to think women are fools who need saving from their own beliefs if they differ from their ideology.
Besides, my area is far too Sure Start for NCT to set up camp so I couldn't have gone even if curiosity had got the better of me .
Oh, we did a sort of role play situation for a csection - one of us lied down, and she showed us how many other peopl would-be in the room, what they were there for, what any equipment in the room was for and why resus equipment might be needed etc. Certainly made it less scary aprospect.
That is not my experience at all of the NCT, but I do understand that that is not everyone's opinion or experience.
To say the NCT are against sections isn't true either. The NCT teachers job is to give the facts and it is then up to the participants to make an informed choice. People forget that they have to take responsibility for their actions and desicions, and then find it easier to blame others (eg NCT) if their birth goes awry, rather than take into consideration the circumstances, and the actions of the HCP's etc.
How exactly does the NCT stigmatise people who have had sections? Does someone from the charities Head Office call them and tell them off? A lot of people seem to think that the people who attend the classes and coffee mornings are the NCT. They are not, they have just used the charity for classes.
I've just blogged on my own experiences with both C Sections and the NCT at - www.sarahatsunshine.blogspot.co.uk
The NCT was a lifeline!
I think they are like Health Visitors - they use their personal beliefs and experiences too much in determining what advice they give. It's not standardised information and research-based advice. This gives too much variation and means you can have some really strange NCT courses, or the one like I was on which was quite balanced and pretty informative.
I moved to the UK at seven and a half months pregnant and the NCT was fantastic at finding me a course, even at such a late stage. It was also excellent at preparing me for my birth and what I could expect in terms of pain relief and other options during labour, as it's fairly different where I was before.
I had contacted as many people and organisations as possible, (hospitals, private midwives, private birth clinics, any UK based pregnancy websites and bloggers I could find) and the NCT were the only ones who offered anything in terms of support.
I did not particularly want to pay for an NCT class but was forced to because the NHS one in my area was massively oversubscribed and although I could have attended a preparation for bith class on my own there were no spaces on any classes I could attend with my husband. I paid over £200 for an NCT course which wasn't even in my local area but a few miles away in a wealthier area. The other people on the course were a very different demographic and beyond a few meet-ups post birth I did not stay in touch with any of them. I thought the actual content of the course was OK although very focused on natural birth and since I had a cesarean after a failed induction it felt like money wasted. The instructor did show us how to change a nappy which was actually really useful as I'd not done it before but still not worth £220!
I just completed an NCT course and I didn't have that experience. We spent a significant amount of time covering induction and c-sections because a) "lots of 1st time mums go overdue and end up being induced so if it happens to you at least you know what's going on" & b) the c-section rate in our area is high. There was certainly no emphasis on whale music and aromatherapy - I get enough of that from the NHS midwife thanks! Also, the NCT course was the only place that gave a leaflet about "safe" formula feeding, i.e. how to sterilse properly etc. Every time I've tried to mention it with midwives I've had the hideous childish looking BF booklet shoved in my face, despite having a medical condition that means it's unlikely that I'll be able to BF, hence wanting to see info about FF in the first place.
So there is variation (which is bad) - but a whole organisation shouldn't be tarred with the same brush. My friend just completed the NHS classes in the same area, apparently they were very natural birth whale music and aromatherapy biased - that doesn't mean I think that all NHS antenatal classes everywhere are rubbish and dogmatic though!
Actually, I don't think its just the NCT. There is an awful lot going on at the moment, from a number of groups including professional bodies that focusses on 'normal' births and its a core of the recent policy making.
Which is fine to a degree as there is a strong case for over medicalising the experience of some women where it is not necessary. However its the terminology and language being used across the board that may be the problem.
For example: 'Failure to Progress' is just one term that defines women as 'failures'. And 'natural' or 'normal' also set up similar overtones of being abnormal or unnatural (and in some ways by definition of that, not feminine or womanly).
If you want to tackle issues surrounding CS and how you approach it, then I do also think it needs to be done with a much greater understanding of how language and judgment associated with that might also be affecting the experiences of women.
No one seems to be really challenging this and I do think it adds fuel to the fire.
I didn't feel the need to pay NCT £200 or so to attend their classes, and I had no desire to make friends via them, so they were completely irrelevant to me.
Our NCT antenatal class covered different kinds of pain relief (and not in a negative way!) and also, as someone above said, 'acted out' a c-section scenario so you would know who was in the room and why, which I thought was really helpful especially as I ended up in theatre, they thought they were going to have to do a section but got her out with forceps in the end... Anyway, the teacher was really helpful and not critical of pain relief or intervention. Maybe it just depends on each individual teacher, although if that's the case then there should be tighter guidelines for the teachers on how to approach these things. Just wanted to add my experiences because the NCT seems to be getting into trouble which in my experience is undeserved.
One of my best friends was 4 months ahead in her pregnancy than me and kept telling me it was vital I attend NCT classes, but she put me off by telling me about her teacher and the general attitude. Everything Kirstie says really, but my friend liked it so, hey ho.
We spent a whole session on sections, as one of our couples had already been told to plan for one and the rest of us were keen to cover it too. We did all the running through who would be there, what would happen, even procedures for a GA.
I think, as someone who went through a lot of the same emotions after an instrumental delivery, the thing is that a lot of middle class professional women going into birth thinking it is something that they can control if only they 'do it right' . Often, whatever you say, they don't take on board that that isn't the case. The shock afterwards can be immense, and there is a tendancy to try and blame away that shock.
I was asked back to talk about my labour to the next group that my teacher taught, and all they wanted to know was whether there was a 'reason' they could pin my difficult delivery on. Had I stood up? Walked around? Did I lie down? Did I take the epidural? Did I sit on the birth ball in the run up? It all got quite tedious and I did get a sense of how it must be teaching some NCT groups - quite hard to get through that they could well be the 25% or whatever. So I don't think it's necessarily a failure of the NCT. Sometimes it is that the couples concerned just don't want to hear.
my NCT teacher started off her course with the word 'NCT. It stands for National Childbirth Trust not Natural Childbirth Trust, suggesting that she knew full well the reputation the NCT has. It certainly relaxed me immediately, and she proceeded to cover everything. However, talking to friends, it sounds like she's in a minority, most friends' experience was as Kirstie suggests, airy fairy and focussing on natural birth to the exclusion (denial?) of any other kind of birth. I would recommend my teacher for sure, but would suggest that people try to find out what they can about their course teacher before proceeding. Which is a pity.
My experience was certainly not that they were anti- section or anti- pain relief. Most of us wanted to try to have as "natural" a birth as possible but we were very definitely told that if our births hadn't gone to plan we were not to feel like failures. I found the classes very reassuring. (We also did the role play thing about the number of people in theatre for a c-section.)
I have also found their breastfeeding helpline extremely good.
My teacher did say some things we weren't sure were factually accurate, but she was speaking from her own experience at times and made this clear. I have found the group of friends I made a brilliant support network.
My experience of NCT was v positive due to having a really supportive teacher who also happened to be an MA at the local hospital and popped in to see us all after we had the babies and in my case when I was in hospital ante natally. We had a group of 6 and there were 2 CS, 2 natural and 2 assisted deliveries so a mixed bunch and we all felt prepared by our lessons, guess it is down to the indivual teacher though
I only joined NCT to meet people to hang out with while I was on maternity leave and 3 1/2 years later have a great group of friends so can't fault it at all.
Having had several MC's, I didn't dare contact NCT until I was 6 months pregnant ... when they told me all the classes were full locally. Perhaps better to book before TTC?
I'm amazed by how many of the people who believe that the NCT peddle a brand or errant shite arrive at this conclusion on the basis of NOT having attended an NCT course!
As far as I'm aware Kirsty Allsop isn't speaking from her personal experience of having attended an NCT course, but I'm willing to be put straight if this isn't the case.
I suspect that if someone attended an NCT session where they were told they 'shouldn't' use pain relief, or were told that all c/s and other interventions in birth were unnecessary, or that having an epidural would result in them needing a c/s (accusations levelled against NCT courses), and they could verify this (perhaps if other parents in the class would back them up), then the teacher in question would be hauled over the coals and made to retrain, because none of these views are supported by the NCT as an organisation.
On a personal note, I didn't do NCT classes - couldn't afford them. But I've been involved as a volunteer with my branch for a decade and know many, many parents who have done NCT courses locally. We have four local teachers, one of whom is a midwife as well. I've NEVER heard anyone complain about being made to feel terrible for having pain relief or needing a c/s.
Only joined NCT for one purpose - to meet some people. I knew from other's that the 'ethos' and 'teachings' would be of little interest to me.
Teacher admitted she would not spend any time on either c-sections or bottle feeding. She was all about 'natural' non intervention childbirth and made no qualms about it - farted around for an entire session 'taking deep breath'.
Given I'd spent £190 she got my back up horrendously using out dated and dull information that could easily be learnt within the first chapter of any book on childbirth.
She was judgemental, un-funny and factually incorrect at times - it was very frustrating.
I ended up with an emergency c-section after a long labour having been induced. At the 'reunion' when she was asking everyone about their 'experience' she jumped on me immediately when I said I'd had a section and couldn't wait to suggest 'elective'?Ehh, no, just because I didn't buy into all your shite bollocks about it all been about breathing etc and was quite open that my birth plan would include drugs and I'd happily have an epidural if I thought I'd need it. Doesn't mean I was opting to have major surgery to get my baby out.. I couldn't believe the cheek of this woman - luckily I'm thick skinned and have absolutely no issues caused by her abililty to try to imply that one has failed if they have a section, but another woman could have been totally gutted. Cow.
My standard ante natal courses were million times more informative and interesting and I learnt tonnes more in half the time at no cost.
Shagmundfreud, had to laugh, I do believe that our teacher was ditched by NCT after our course. Don't think anyone complained (I don't think her intentions were wrong, perhaps misguided and outdated) because it was actually pretty comical and we still joke about her / the lessons 2 years later.
There is no way I would have joined an NCT class. They appear to be very judgemental and with an axe to grind in respect of natural childbirth and breastfeeding.
I'm amazed by how many of the people who believe that the NCT peddle a brand or errant shite arrive at this conclusion on the basis of NOT having attended an NCT course!
Their ideas and philosophy are easily found on the internet!
Based on my personal experience, I disagree strongly with Kirstie. My NCT teacher was very good. She tailored the course to us - one couple were going to have an Elective CS as the baby had a heart defect, and were expecting him to have an op very soon after birth. We therefore had quite a lot of information about c sections (elective, emergency and crash) and how c sections could be very positive experiences, and how to make them possibly more personal to you, as well as how caring and good the NICU departments of hospitals are. Also was honest about recovery times and what we could do to make life after birth easier if we'd had an emcs, and how to make an extended stay in hospital more comfortable.
The only problem was, she spent so much time discussing c-sections v natural birth, plus all other kinds of birth and pain relief, she completely skipped inductions. Which is what I had! I still think she was very good though. She got us to focus on the fact that we were having babies, and the type of birth we had was didn't really matter as long as our babies were healthy and loved. Oh, and the nappy changing exercise was very helpful, as I'd never done that before and was terrified.
The breastfeeding teacher though - we complained about her. Blinkered is not a strong enough word.
I think that clearly it varies (my own NCT teacher was excellent) but that since these instructors are speaking for the organisation they should make it clearer to the teachers the standards they expect. Particularly that they shouldn't make anyone feel bad / guilty (for heavens sake) if they do end up with a section.
That said, I was at a dinner party recently with one childless couple, the woman insisted she'd have an elective c-section. Her choice etc - but she seemed to think this meant she'd have a free pass on childbirth with no problems. It wasn't my place to make it clear to her it's major abdominal surgery and the choice wasn't without a down-side - but it would be the place of an ante-natal teacher. But I did wonder if a teacher did try to provide a balance, if s/he would be accused of "pushing" natural childbirth.
My experience with NCT was very positive, I was very grateful for the info they gave on c sections as I ended up having emcs. They covered not just the practical/medical side of things but also the emotional side - eg the fact the partner has to leave the theatre if it is done under GA and feelings you may have afterwards - things that weren't covered in other stuff I read. I was much better prepared thanks to NCT.
I loved my NCT classes however they do have an agenda which they actively push-and why not? They want to promote BF (yep, good idea but not for everyone obviously) so why should they sit on the fence to appease people?
You can only feel stigmatized if you let others make you feel that way!
I also went to NHS antenatal classes and they were a crock of hopelessness. Patchy, poorly delivered and aimless by a woman who kept answering her mobile phone (midwife of Loughton I'm looking at you). Thank goodness the NCT filled the gap.
PS, I had an EMCS and don't feel in the slightest bit guilty after three days in labour, I did rather marvellously.
I do think it's a shame where people comment/ judge the NCT without actually giving it a try. I'm very disappointed if Kirstie is espousing her views on something of which she has no personal experience.
In the classes our teacher was very frank about all aspects of birth (having had experience of natural, EMCS and elective c-section birthes herself), answered all our questions honestly and never made us feel judged for anything in respect of the birth or our choices as to bf or otherwise. The classes were, I would say, evenly balanced between natural birth and techniques to cope with early labour but also covered pain relief options, induction, intervention and EMCS all in a factual way without any feeling that you were a failure if this happened or that it was the wrong choice to make for you and your baby. There was a lot of humour thrown in for good measure as well!
For me it was a lifeline. I wanted a natural childbirth but circumstances led to me having an EMCS. I struggled massively with bf DS and eventually combined fed. I was also eventually diagnosed with PND. I never felt judged for any of it nor did I feel excluded. In fact, I had great support from the others in the group and my teacher.
I remained involved with the NCT afterwards for over two years as a volunteer and again never came across the sort of opinions that Kirstie encountered. Instead, I found a group of women who were very funny, honest and had a collective wish to help other women/ their families based on their own experiences irrespective of what they were and to ensure that support was there no matter what happened whether through choice or not. Maybe it was unique to my branch but I honestly don't think it was.
If I had another baby, I would definitely go back.
I would like to stand up for the NCT and I can to some extent in the vein that AmandaPayne outlines - the deep anger against them is not entirely in my view their fault.
But then my sister who chaired her local nct makes me think again. I told her my friend had had a baby and she sneered "CS I suppose? looks the type" (my friend is very blond and groomed). I felt very cross about that
I didn't do NCT because of comments from Kirstie-like
gobshites people who put me off. It's one of the great regrets of my life. I was so lonely after dc1 was born.
Out of "my" NCT group of 7, 5 of us went on to have Caesareans after varying problems and traumas. Our course leader had spent at least half of our 2-day course talking about creating the right atmosphere for birthing. On the second day we complained that we needed practical info, not candles and shit, so she then showed us how to change a nappy which turned out to be the most useful part of the course for most of us. I could really have done with some better information about induction as that wasn't covered at all. With regards to CS we were told that if it came to that, it would all be out of our control anyway. Useful - huh?
I think the aims of the NCT are worthy, but the organisation does tend to attract a certain type of parent/parent-to-be, and they therefore alienate whole sections of our society.
The course was utter rubbish (although my DH reckoned he learned a few things). I did, however, make 6 great friends who I still meet up with weekly 4 years on.
I'm not a member. However I have volunteered at two sales (in different areas) so have spoken to lots of women involved at different levels. The vast majority were lovely and I won't hesitate to have a natter with them or even join a group.
I have met a couple who were snobby, looking down their noses at the people who were going to buy and just generally reinforcing all the negatives I've ever read.
The nicest were those who spent most of their lives volunteering at top branch level (and were as gleeful as I when they got a bargin)
Have been following Kirstie's tweets and the responses my view is:
+ NCT provided me with a fantastic network of 5 other girls from whom I gained a huge amount of support and friendship and with whom I spent a lot of time whilst on mat leave
+ the NCT classes were useful (eg practical advice on how to change a nappy and breast feeding session) and informative on natural birth (however, note below re c-sections)
+ I had problems breast feeding (thrush, cracked nipples) and emailed the breast feeding counsellor asking for advice. She emailed me back v quickly with really helpful suggestions and then invited me to her house where she spent an hour showing me different positions. This was wonderful and successful and I breastfed for 10 months for which I am very grateful.
- we weren't told anything about cesareans: 3 out of 6 of us had emergency cesareans! Another girl had a planned cesarean she didn't tell us about because she was too scared given the focus of the classes.
- completely agree the feedback form should be given some time after the babies are born it's only then you actually know how useful the classes were
- we were meant to have (and had paid for) a follow up class after the babies were born this was booked in for two weeks after the last two babies were due which at the time we thought was rather early and unsurprisingly had to be cancelled because 2 of us had brand new babies (both were 10 days late). We subsequently arranged to meet at a local café and the instructor said she would come along. She never turned up or contacted us again.
I found Kirstie Allsopp's comments reflected my own experience of the NCT well. I attended NCT antenatal classes and a separate NCT breastfeeding course, both of which I felt gave a very one sided view of birth and feeding issues. I felt neither addressed the problems that some women will face in birth and with feeding. The language used regarding intervention and formula feeding was very negative and could cause mothers to feel stigmatized if they had a Caesarean or bottle fed. Just one example of this would be how on the breastfeeding course the leader referred to breastfeeding as 'the proper way'. This was in 2009 and I haven't had any contact with the NCT since.
My DC are grown up now but it sounds like the NCT hasn't changed much in the past 20 years.
I bottle fed my DC and was made to feel like I was doing something terrible but was strong enough to believe that my DC would be ok however they were fed. Another mum within the group rang me in tears and was very distressed when she had to stop feeding because of illness. I felt very cross that the NCT had brainwashed her into believing that only breastfed babies can be healthy.
I did make some good friends through the NCT classes but found that the local NHS classes were much more realistic in their approach to childbirth and raising children.
I didn't like the NCT classes. The spread of couples was far too wide across our large city so it didn't encourage a 'group' mentality or making friends (which is what we really went for). I found all my mum-friends at my local NHS classes which were great (and free).
I found the NCT focused very much on natural childbirth. Our class on labour was very negative towards painkillers I felt. Very negative towards pethadine and especially epidural. I had booked a homebirth at the time. I ended up in hospital with an epidural, forceps and a horrendous birth. However, the expectations I had on myself were huge and I had a mini breakdown a few weeks after the birth as I felt I was at fault for 'causing' an awful birth. Of course, this was all in my head but I felt the 'natural' expectations I'd had were the cause. I can't blame this all on the NCT though.
Our NCT instructor was also very anti immunisation too which I found difficult. This was over 8 years ago though, and I'm sure this isn't a part of the NCT's actual agenda.
I looked them up online, but money is really tight at the moment, so couldn't afford the classes. We would not have qualified for the cheaper classes either.
Friends did the classes, and loved them though.
Whilst I didn't attend NCT classes (to costly for me) I did pay for an annual membership so I could meet up with local mums and hopefully find myself a support network via the local meetings. After a horriffic first birth experience that involved being over due to the max, a 4 day failed induction culminating in an EMCS when my son's heart stopped I was looking forward of the support the organisation promised. Alas for me it was not so, I was questioned by mothers for not attending the classes, one member told me I had failed to deliver because I hadn't been properly informed by attending the groups and could have had a more successful outcome should I attended. I stuck it out for two more meetings but had to admit defeat after being questioned about my choice of buggy, (don't you find your pushchair inferior to the bugaboo?) why was I topping up my baby with a bottle, did I regret having and induction? It just went on and on and to be honest I felt i was being bullied by the members of the organisation. I think the problem is as much with some of its members as it is with some of its teachers. The idea of the organisation is wonderful but I do think they need to take a long hard look at themselves and try to improve things across the board.
I would say I had a good NCT experience except for the CS part
We were a group of 8, youngest 31. One had placenta previa and was going to have a CS no matter what.
The NcT lady still made us read the cat story - so you know it? Cats used to give birth in quiet dark places and were happy and then they were moved to a lab and had to give birth under bright lights and got stressed.
She gave us long long lists of bd thins about c sections. Told us they could stop us bonding etc. One lady,who was the oldest really really bought into all this. She was terrified of a c section and I was sure she would end up with an emergency one. And she did the poor thing, after 30 hours of no pan relief labour when the heart rate dropped
And 2 months later when we met she started crying and asking the others if they feel like they failed somehow by being unable to give birth naturally. It was hounding her still. Out of eight of us five had to have c sections.
Out of the three who had natural births one ended up with third degree tears, one had a ventouse delivery with baby low on agpar scale and stopping to breathe twice. Luckily all was ok in the end.
I think looking at our demographics it was cruel or uninformed to not prepare us for c sections in a more positive way and spend 1 1/2 hours convincing us of their evils. If we were a mid twenties group it would have been different but we weren't.
And one more thing. The way they tried to sell home births was by making hospitals to be scary places eg the cat story. And they told us themselves that women need a safe place to give birth. I hope it didn't make it worse for anyone.
Disclosure: I had a planned c-section. The NCT teacher suggested it was a choice. She was not impolite and did not call me too posh too push. She encouraged me to try and turn my breach baby or try natural anyway. She told me that my baby didn't turn around because i was scared of natural birth.
I thank God for ultrasound and modern medicine because had we tried that my daughter would have died. Poor thing had the umbilical cord wrapped 3 1/2 times round her neck and was flat against the placenta with no space to move. 100 years ago I would have died too.
One more thing
To be fair I will add that the teacher did admit that c sections were sometimes necessary and could save lives. And that some women may need pain relief.
Very much agree - I only attended a couple of NCT organised things rather than the formal classes and I really enjoyed the bumps and babies groups when my DS was little but it was filled with slightly traumatised women who'd been somewhat brainwashed into thinking having an epidural or any kind of pain relief was a weak, unnatural option and either felt guilty that they'd opted for pain relief or traumatised from having had long and very difficult births with nothing but breathing exercises for assistance.
I do agree that natural childbirth can be a very life affirming, special and even spiritual experience. But if people need or want pain relief or if their delivery requires medical intervention this is not a failure on their part, if they aren't able or choose not to breastfeed there is nothing wrong with them as mothers (I personally did bf for 8 months) and if they need to go back to work when the baby is still young then that shouldn't be stigmatised either.
It's great to have an organisation that organises a lot of stuff for parents and promotes natural childbirth and breastfeeding etc for those that want it, but it needs to be more aware that the most important thing is to support parents in the different choices they make and different circumstances they find themselves in so that they are able to feel confident and empowered to look after their child.
"This is a very politicised, dogmatic and in my experience, scary organisation."
- The best description of the NCT I have heard (and I used to volunteer for them).
In our class, I was literally told that the medical staff were out to get me/stop me from having a natural birth, and it was definitely implied that the epitome of womanhood, the ultimate in female experience, was pushing a baby out.
I ended up making a few bad decisions as a result - water birth which I refused to get out of, resulting in an uncontrolled second stage, and then insisting on being stitched by a midwife (because the medical staff were out to get me), on a quite serious and complicated tear.
Amanda Payne - how can you sift through what you should hear and not hear, when you literally have no idea what is ahead of you? They don't exactly say 'this is the worst pain you will have ever been in, you might think you are losing your mind' do they?!
Abitwobbly - Actually, "you might think you are losing your mind" is one of the phrases I actually recall our teacher using about transition, but I take your point. My point was really that a lot of women I met seemed to be in denial about the exact fact you stated - that they had no idea what was ahead of them. The women in the group I spoke to had certainly fixed on the idea that if they did the 'right' things, they would get the 'right' outcome. As a result, they did filter out anything that didn't tally with our view. A friend went along too who had had an easy five hour, no stitches labour and they quizzed her for ages on what she had done. She mentioned having listened to a hypnobirthing CD twice and by the end of the session they were all noting down the website she had got it from as it clearly worked. I do think that there is an element of self-filtering goes on.
However, some of these stories are shocking. My NCT teacher, as I said, covered everything with no judgement. She had had three vaginal deliveries and a section herself.
'that view', not 'our view'
I join NCT purely to meet other mothers...! I was new to our area and wanted to make friends. Our GP's also held a short course for all Mother in the local area who'd had babies within a month. That was brilliant and I met loads of new local mums. And it was free!
My NCT course teacher was much more interested in those who had 'natural' births and asked all of them to write up their birth stories for her webpage. I on the other hand had a emcs after a failed assisted delivery and a very long tough labour (very big baby) I was never ask to write a thing for her. All the mothers who had been able to have a successful vagina deliveries where asked back several months later to chat with the next group of mothers, those of us who had sections / emcs or not weren't asked.
Later when I saw our NCT teacher I mentioned that I would be happy to meet any future groups if she needed anyone, I was told she only wanted 'successful' birth stories.
I told her DD's birth was successful as she is alive and well. It shouldn't matter how she was delivered, also not like it was my fault I was unable to have a natural delivery and ended up with an emcs.
I think it definitely depends on the instructors of the courses - the course I attended was not dogmatic at all and covered all areas of pain relief and all types of birth. This may have been helped by the fact the instructor herself had experience of both a c-section and natural birth, but she was incredibly open minded and encouraged all of us mothers to be too.
While the course did cover breastfeeding in detail I also didn't feel pressured into doing this - no more than by the midwives and health visitors that I saw through the NHS anyway.
For me, the NCT course was a positive experience, one that allowed my husband to attend (due to more convenient class times and limited places) and introduced me to several other mother who I enjoy meeting up with. I would have liked to have gained the same from the free NHS antenatal classes, but I found them intimidatingly busy with no emphasis on the social aspect (no opportunity to introduce yoursefl to anyone etc. and over 30 people in a small room) and while the midwife was lovely, she was also very busy and clearly cramming a lot of information into a couple of sessions that were not long enough.
I think this must be massively variable.
We had a class in which EVERYTHING was evidence based and the teacher constantly reiterated that it wasn't her place to have opinions but to guide us through the stats.
She said things like: The stats show you will have less chance of interventions if you have a homebirth. This is partly thought to be due to the alieness of the environment in hospital making women tense. However not all women feel tense in a medical environment and you may even feel more comfortable and less afraid there, so really the important thing to do is identify which environment is most relaxing for you personally.
Not dogmatic as far as I can see....in fact bloody well considered, balanced and supportive!
"In our class, I was literally told that the medical staff were out to get me/stop me from having a natural birth, and it was definitely implied that the epitome of womanhood, the ultimate in female experience, was pushing a baby out".
Given that the teacher 'literally' said 'the staff are out to get you' - which is both libellous and untrue I'm hoping you made a formal complaint straight away.
I'm surprised that you, as an adult who (I assume) would have known prior to attending antenatal classes (unless you've been living under a stone for the past 20 years) that interventions in birth are common and may be life saving for mothers and babies, allowed yourself to be so influenced by someone who was clearly an idiot, that you made what you describe yourself as poor choices about your maternity care.
I find it odd that people find the breast feeding class one sided. They are breast feeding counsellors, not bottle feeding counsellors
They have studied bf'ing and counselling for years to obtain their qualification. They are passionate about bf'ing, so I'm not sure why people expect anything different.
I went to one of the NCT intensive antenatal courses and it was fantastic. It covered everything pain relief, c- sections, bottle feeding and loads of practical stuff after the baby arrived. There didn't seem to be any agenda at all. The breastfeeding lady was great and the reason I stuck at it was because of her advice. Far better than the breastfeeding helpers at the hospital.
MY SIL went to one and complained that she wanted her money back from her classes because their teacher hadn't told them it was going to hurt so much and she was totally unprepared. I think in that case the idiot wasn't the NCT woman.
I went to NCT years ago with my eldest, now 14. I don't remember much about the course. I made some good friends from it. Yes we were all middle class, but so what?
What I do remember is the wonderful support i got from the course after ds was born. He didn't stop crying and I was was at my wits' end. I phoned the course leader up one sunday and she invited me round to hers. When I got there her hubbie and kids were all going off to the park. They took screaming 3 week old ds off with them for an hour. It allowed me a much needed break, some company and nice food. When they brought him back her hubbie's comment wen along the lines of " blimey he really does cry all the time"
farmersdaughter at your NCT teacher! No wonder they have a rep!
I'm totally with Kirsty. My experience is very out of date though. We only went to classes for our first, and he's 20 now.
My DH was very off put by some of the other men. He felt they were trying to micromanage and somehow "own" the mother's experience of birth.
I had 42.5 hours in labour, failed epidural, failed ventouse, failed forceps and then -- finally - a C section.
The first thing my NCT teacher said when she called after we came home was that "I must not feel a failure" for needing a C section.
I replied, with some froideur, that as both I and my DS had survived I felt the procedure had been a total success. I just thought "You total dick. The purpose of having a baby is to get the baby safely out, not the greater glory of the flippin' mother."
What finally stopped me going to the smug who's got the nicest biscuits coffee mornings was that one of the women in my group was so obsessed with breast feeding and breast only (and her DH was worse) that her poor infant looked like a whippet. I couldn't nod & smile and tell her she was doing the right thing. The child was failing to thrive. It was appalling, particularly with the contrast to that immaculate Cath Kidston/Laura Ashley house.
I later heard that her GP and the community midwife came to their house and threatened to take the baby into care because of starvation. That was the only way to convince them to give the poor emaciated thing a bottle. Bloody idiots. The NCT seemed to promote just as fixed, rigid ideas as the over-clinical hospital culture they claimed to be fighting.
and I had had an em section and I don't remember anyone there making me feel crap about it.
I do remember natural birth being touted as the best possible outcome and of course natural birth IS the best possible outcome rather then traumatic, if necessary intervention. But other birthing possibilities weren't dismissed at all.
I have experience of the NCT in two different areas, and both consultants discussed all types of childbirth and pain relief without any judgement at all.
After both births I carried on attending NCT events such as coffee mornings and no one batted an eyelid when I decided to stop breastfeeding - made some very good friends actually.
I can see that this depends on the individual consultant, of course.
From what I have heard from friends experiences, Kirstie pretty much hits the nail on the head.
I don't doubt that as a whole the organisation does good, but individually, maybe less so.
when i had to have a c-section (after preparing for a water birth complete with my own doula), the only thing that helped me through was the NCT teaching on what would happen in theatre and who was who... so many people and could have been really overwhelming.
i wish they could have included a bit more on how to pick up baby post cs and practical stuff.
I think it depends massively on the course teacher. Ours had had two unmedicated homebirths but we virtually had to drag that information out of her on the last day. She presented all the information about pain relief and interventions very open-mindedly and encouraged us to be flexible and ask intelligent questions rather than ruling anything out in advance. Out of six of us, there were four c-sections (one scheduled breech, one emergency breech, one emergency failed induction, one emergency asynclitic presentation), one ventouse delivery and one non-instrumental delivery with epidural. None of us were made to feel in any way like failures.
This was may experience of the NCT. I went along to a 'Bumps and Babies' group shortly after DC1 was born. Both the leader and other women asked me about the birth (as do most women when you have just had a baby IME), and when I explained he was delivered by forceps, the leader launched into a lecture on how hospitals 'force' women into medicalised birth unnecessarily. I didn't go back again.
In fairness though, my NHS ante-natal didn't mention any birth options other than unassisted, although they did go through the possible types of pain relief.
I think the NCT are nominally a charity, but really its a medium for middle class first time mummies to make friends
My NCT teacher was a bit of a cold bitch to be honest, and some of us complained
I think the issue is their very pro birth message, is not realistic in a day and age when most woman have highly medicalised births in a very wary NHS climate
I dont blame the NHS, better to do an intervention than to get sued
Most women I know tend to have a fairly shitty first birth and then a fast (NCT friendly) second one
So the NCT message is hard to live up to as
(a) first births are longer, so many woman cant cope and want epidurals
(b) first births are complicated and ergo tend to be intervention heavy
I think the NCT need to LISTEN up, as I read pages and pages of criticism about them
and stop bloody defending themselves
My sister and her husband had a Kirsty experience.They were expecting twins and their group leader refused to discuss or answer their questions on ff and c/s,bil wasn't happy!
I did an NCT course before I had heard anything about them. I found the course to be very good, very much tailored around what we wanted to know. I think the dads found it especially helpful.
The breastfeeding session was done by someone else and we all said we found it a little preachy, we were told that breastfed babies don't suffer wind, colic or reflux (3 of the 9 babies all have) and my friend having twins was dismissed and told of course she would be able to breastfeed them both when she said she was a bit worried.
However, I am still in touch with all my nct friends, I was lucky to get a lovely group of people, they have been a life line for me.
We also have an nct baby cafe in my local town which is excellent and the ladies have helped lots of us no end with breastfeeding issues.
On the whole I have had a very positive experience and personally dont recognise any of the accusations levelled against them.
I have bad memories of NCT classes. The teacher was a nightmare a complete bitch who singled me out as I was having my DD in private hospital. I agree with Kirstie and well done to her for speaking her mind.
I whole heartedly agree with Kirstie on this. I went to NCT classes and although I was planning a natural birth, had a caesarian. The feeling that I had from those classes was that I had "failed". Similarly, the fact that despite lactation consultants etc I had to bottle feed after 3 months left me with a feeling of failure after the way in which things had been conveyed by t
I attended the NCT classes in Scotland and thought they were dreadful; we had to specifically ask about Caesareans, forceps and ventouse interventions (and even then these were covered very briefly).
A huge chunk of each class was spent on "breaking the ice" exercises to "get to know the other couples" - we honestly felt it was like a pregnant couple dating service, rather than an ante-natal class.
The worst part was the breastfeeding class; when one woman asked if there were any medical reasons that could potentially prevent a woman from breastfeed she was told categorically "no, all women can breastfeed".
I'm sure it depends on the region/class/instructor, but I felt my 195GBP would've been much better spent elsewhere.
I'm afraid I agree with Kirsty. I knew the image and I suppose I'm m/c myself so I wasn't deterred. I didn't attend NCT classes but I tried to get help from a bf counsellor whose 'support' was woeful and utterly patronising. I also joined 2 different NCT coffee groups both full of 'in your face' bf and natural birth fanatics mostly with rich husbands and massive houses and no need to work. I had a difficult ventouse birth, with various interventions, although it was still a positive experience, and the medical professionals were superb. I also eventually gave up bf when ds was 4 weeks old and my new 'friends' quizzed me at some length about both birth and bf and one suggested that my failure (yes she used the word) to bf was down to the 'unnecessary' interventions at birth and that I should have been more assertive with doctors. I pointed out that ds was 10lbs and theirs had all been 7lbs ha ha and had all sorts of research quoted at me. They were all just so...earnest and serious somehow - smug I guess. The second coffee group in a different town was very similar.
This was all 12-14 years ago now but I think the NCT really has its work cut out trying to shake off its image.
As a working class woman I have never felt that the NCT is an organisation for me.
I used to work for a parenting organisation, working for parents from a specific group and I didn't find them very good then.
I think the work they have done should be recognised and applauded.
But if they do not seem themselves as a MC organisation they are deluding themselves.
I am sure that they have been a valuable source of support and advice to thousands of parents though.
"In our class, I was literally told that the medical staff were out to get me/stop me from having a natural birth, and it was definitely implied that the epitome of womanhood, the ultimate in female experience, was pushing a baby out".
Given that the teacher 'literally' said 'the staff are out to get you' - which is both libellous and untrue I'm hoping you made a formal complaint straight away.
I'm surprised that you, as an adult who (I assume) would have known prior to attending antenatal classes (unless you've been living under a stone for the past 20 years) that interventions in birth are common and may be life saving for mothers and babies, allowed yourself to be so influenced by someone who was clearly an idiot, that you made what you describe yourself as poor choices about your maternity care."
Thanks for that, Shagmund. So when I get raped, it'll be my fault then. And my H's affair was also my fault, was it?
For someone who had absolutely NO family support whatsoever and I was on my own, being the late surprise to older parents and having never witnessed pregnancy or even held a baby before, I depended heavily on my ante natal classes for support and guidance. Still my fault is it, to be influenced by experts when I didn't have a clue?
And, yes, we were literally told that - through her descriptions of her births and how she 'fought off' the doctors who were wanting to 'interfere with her birth plan'. She was quite angry and that is when we were told they were out to get you. And no, whilst I was very disappointed AFTER the event at the information given, I wasn't going to sue, just felt hugely disillusioned. It was only after my own birth injuries I noticed how all the wives of my medical friends had ECs - why? Because of the high rate of birth injury in the UK (1 in 4 women). And obstetricians telling me that you need to ask your mother and gmother what their births were like, it is all in the collagen and that is genetic. Bit too late, to hear that after the event don't you think? And when I brought up my disillusionment with 'natural childbirth' they gave their private opinion that childbirth in the NHS is hugely politicised and that in their opinion midwives have been given far too much say? I could be making that up too Shagmund you never know.
I did try and raise these issues with NCT [don't make natural childbirth the pinnacle of everything and imply anything less is a failure] - but they are rather, er, dogmatic.
I liked my NCT teacher. She was pro-childbirth without being dogmatic and really knew her stuff.
I think for me, doing the NCT was as much about meeting people in the same stage of life as myself as learning stuff about childbirth. Most people I know used it for the same reason as me.
Maybe what the NCT needs is governance, monitoring and continuous professional development to ensure that a basic standard is being met. After all, most other professions have to do this.
I think that governance and professional development are really needed at NCT. The course leader for the 2 days programme I did 14 yrs ago pedalled so much scaremongering rubbish about drugs and intervention (which I know quite a lot about professionally), that it made my hair stand on end.
When I questioned her on a couple of issues she got very arsey
Why is KA an MN blogger? I thought she couldn't stand MN.
And why are we being asked for an opinion on this?
Not my experience at all.
Our NCT teacher was lovely and covered all aspects of birth and feeding. The classes were really helpful, and about a million times better than the NHS classes I went to where the midwives were sloppy, out of date and opinionated - and just wanted to finish as quickly as possible "Let's skip the tea and biscuits at the end " (our opportunity for getting to know each other) "so we can all get home earlier"...
Probably the most valuable thing about the NCT classes was meeting the other people - some of us are still in touch 11 years on. Those friendships were such a support in the first few months after having dd1.
I also had a fabulous Health Visitor
I think it all depends on your individual teacher.
Oh but - I would have loved to do NCT classes to meet other new mums in my first pg. but like LaBelleDame, I'd m/c so didn't try and sign up until about 5/6 mths, so too late.
in desperation I tried the teas - attended a couple and held one myself. Hard work, hardly anyone ever turned up, often they didn't even try todisguise the fact they wanted to nose at other people's carpets, and ultimately pretty depressing.
Except the first one, where I met someone who became a good friend for a while.
But that's not a reflection on their courses, of which sadly I know nothing.
I was very grateful to the b/f counsellors I spoke to in the early days with my three - the advice was so much better than anything the mws ever said, and they were very comforting and re-assuring.
Our NCT group was very middle class/posh, apart from one family and us! The lady who ran it was equally moneyed and quite terrifying in a practical no nonsense natural is the only way kind of way IYSWIM? We did have a quick run through induction, but no mention of c/s, just water births (water birthing suite hadn't yet opened at our hospital) and quick active labour where we were to insist no monitoring, upright and active at all times. Was a bit of a shock when I got to hospital!
The NHS classes were actually much more realistic although boring as anything!
I had a good experience, but that was mostly down to the group of people attending who all clicked and were similar age/wanting to ask the same questions. Most of us had either read about/joined online forums/were pretty educated and with friends who'd been through birth, so had a fair idea of what might be coming up.
Our teacher knew what she was talking about (but too much airy fairy stuff about breathing and massage which isn't me at all), even though having been through 3 large baby natural births, obviously was pushing that and breast feeding which at the time we all wanted to do. She was a bit of a 'hippy' type of mum which just made us all chortle amongst ourselves and get on better together. She did end up as one girl's doula, and delivering the baby as the midwives didn't turn up on time.
The only bits we felt afterwards had been missed out were lots more post birth (rather than eulogising about spending time out with baby and not really doing anything much, more practical would have been helpful). I don't remember talking about csections at all, but having had one along with 2 of the others (out of 9), I don't feel I didn't know enough about them or any of the other hospital based bits. As the whole course agenda was put together according to the questions we wanted to find out about, that would suggest that each group is different in what they might learn.
We were lucky as we all gelled in our group, and the 8 of us who still live in the area are still getting together, but I know a couple of others who had the same teacher, and the group just didn't work as well. Guess it depends on your area, and how far away the attendees live from each other.
We were also asked for volunteers to come back and talk to later groups with our babies. I couldn't make it as they wanted the partners to go too and mine wouldn't, but as BF didn't work for us and I was formula feeding, the teacher passed on my details to a later attendee who knew she was unable to BF for my experiences. Shows that they're willing to take advice from others if that's not something they can talk about.
I attended nct classes with ds1. They did mention the concepts of induction and caesarean and interventions generally but in an extremely
Mine were fantastic, the NCT teacher was fantastic and went through induction and Caesarean section very thoroughly. I still have friends I made in the group 10 years ago.
Oops pressed send too early.
In an extremely negative light. The four of us on my course all ended up having sections. I for one felt that I had failed at my birth as any mention of c sections had had such negative connotations during the classes.
It took me 3 years and the natural birth if my ds2 to be able to put my feelings of inadequacy to one side. I blame the nct and their attitudes for this.
completely agree with ka,nct have an agenda and as result cs is demonised
there is a need for open transparent dialogue Inc contraindication and cs
not all birth are natural that needs discussed.nct is pricy,mc and out of touch
too busy most of the time for a blog, don't think I'd be able to make my life interesting enough to attract readers. Didn't attend NCT classes but did go to coffee mornings later with one group. I also met an NCT breastfeeding counsellor who demanded, in the street, to know if I was breastfeeding. I couldn't see why it was any of their business as I hadn't asked for their help. They fed their own children to at least 3 and were rather blatant about it. Both the the coffee mornings and the counsellor confirmed the negative impressions I had of the NCT.
I attended anti-natal classes run by midwives, they were helpful and they also helped me with breastfeeding when I needed it.
I must have been naive/lucky as I only joined the nct prior to ds1 because I had heard it was a nice thing to do and a good way to meet friends. i had too much disposable income in those days and signed up without any knowledge of the organisation. I might not have, had I read some of these posts when I was pg!
Luckily we had a great nct leader and a really lovely class of people whose dc ds1 sees often and plays with still. I had a terrible birth experience ending in c section and later moving on to bottle feeding - no one judged or even really mentioned nct 'values' (we were still in touch with the nct leader)
my NCT expirience was horrible. I was made to feel like an alien because I was a single parent. All the activities were centred around partners and husbands.
I had to have a big cry afterwards.
Needless to say I didn't go back. NHS parenting classes were much more straight forward and I met some friends that are still good friends to me 11 years later.
NCT was excluding and exclusive bulshite for middle class
The NCT classes near me were too £££ despite the fact that both of us earned decent ft wages at the time. luckily we got 12h (6 x 2h) sessions through the Nhs. They covered loads but with hindsight I now know that this was very much a rose tinted view. They told you everything you should do to get x or y result. Eg breathe through contractions like this and it will be fine - not if your baby is back to back and noone has realised yet. Or hold like this for BF and it will be fine - not if your baby has a tongue tie and noone has noticed
Of all my antenatal friends we all had different birth experiences and all of us said that the classes presented a rose tinted view of things.
I can't be sure as I didn't do the NCT classes but I'm guessing they're much of a much-ness. Too much rose tinted view and not enough on what may/ may not happen in a less straight forward birth.
Fwiw I had a c section and although I had been to a class that went though the facts - what happens, who's there etc it did nothing to prepare me for an emcs at all. I felt an utter failure as I'd done everything the Nhs classes said to get baby into correct position etc etc. it took me a good year to feel better about it but even now I can't watch anything with childbirth in as it makes me too upset.
A healthy dose of realism is what ALL antenatal classes need!
I don't blog.
This isn't my experience in the slightest. We had two people in the class who knew they had to have c-sections. I think they were well catered for. Classes were focused on staying in control and understanding the reasons for various interventions. As well as making me feel that I could try for a natural birth as many people do manage it. Quite empowering.
Like everything though, I can see it would largely depend on the person taking it.
people seem to do nct to meet likeminded mums.middle-class dating agency
priced highly to weed out oiks and undesirables
let's face it the price alone disbars open participation,it's self-selecting of prosperous
The basic teaching of "childbirth without fear" is a good thing, and no-one can deny the NCT have, through campaigning etc, improved things for women in childbirth over the years.
Personally I have benefitted hugely from the NCT; it is huge round here (in the middle-class haven of Surrey). My antenatal teacher was a fan of homebirths but didn't try to force the idea on us, but I felt very well-informed and confident as a result of the classes. The BF counsellor was fantastic too. Socially I am still friends with people I met through the organisation,13 years on. I joined the local committee for a few years, looking after new members, helping with the newsletter, helping with sales and get-togethers; I found it very rewarding.
There was an almost MN-like rallying round if anyone local needed support (feeding issues, MCs and at least one stillbirth that I remember).
I think I was fortunate to have a well-supported branch with excellent teachers, and I realise not everyone was so lucky, but I have to say that Kirsty is wrong as far as I'm concerned.
I went to an NCT class and paid the reduced cost as I am in receipt of benefits. I went when pregnant with my second child as I had a hard time labouring with my first and wanted to be as prepared as I could be.
The classes were great!
The course teacher was really really nice and went through the different stages of labour and included information on induction and pain relief. Yes there was an emphasis on natural birth but there was no making anyone feel a failure if they wanted pain relief or an epidural.
It turned out I needed a emcs under general aneasthetic but because I had done the NCT course I knew that it would take a little longer for my body to produce breast milk and once I was home and struggling to BF I phoned the course teacher and she came out with a BFing support worker for free and gave me some really good advice.
I did end up combination feeding and wasn't made to feel bad about it.
I think that it very much depends on the course teacher and what exactly is wrong with promoting natural birth and BFing anyway?
You don't HAVE to BF or have a natural birth but personally speaking I would prefer to.
I think kirsty has made some points nct find uncomfortable,but I agree with ka
but shell find plenty agreeing and sharing experience,as any mn thread attest
trick for nct is what next,how to ditch the lentil weaving and mc brand image
Message withdrawn at poster's request.
We went before 1st dc (2005) and I have to say my experience chimes with others on here. We asked for preparation for caring for a baby, and there was so little . The teacher sniggered when we asked for info on changing nappies. I was 26 and had never seen or held a newborn before. The rest of the class were much older -one was 30 and the rest 36+. We felt v out of place. The info on breasted one was inadequate for the challenges we faced -no info about how to know baby was getting enough. After the birth I rang the bf counsellor for support and was told to just putting baby to breast and trying to feed him in response to my worries that he was feeding too often and not getting enough. Apparently he would come off on his own one full. He never did and was readmitted with dehydration a few days later.
I felt the birth preparation was rubbish. The parts abut intervention were scaremongering, yet the parts about natural birth didn't give enough info on how to prepare and cope in order to make that likely. A stupid exercise comparing kneeling up and leaning back for 60 seconds to a contraction springs to mind. Utter bollocks. Breathing exercises would have been far more useful.nforceps were passed round, but all that meant was that when they were whipped out for use on me I was terrified. The teacher went on about her personal experience and mentioned if she did it again she'd try hypnosis. In a subsequent pregnancy I did and it was FAR more useful that the wispy washy generalised scaremongering nct rubbish. V poor.
I made some good friends for the postnatal period, it once the babies were about 2-3 we found we had little in common any more (hardly surprising as 3 were a decade or more older than me and really rather rich). I'm not in touch with any any more. We also did the nhs classes, which were about as much use, but in a bigger group and a more normal range of people.
That's a truly awful thing to say to someone who needed a CS. I think I would have smacked her. I had a very traumatic time with my second DS and a comment like that would have been devastating.
I have had a largely positive experience with the NCT. Our antenatal class made really good friends and while we've been off on maternity leave we've met up, gone to groups or each others' houses etc pretty much every week which has been great. Our teacher was obviously very pro-natural birth and a bit of a hippie in that respect but she didn't neglect to discuss pain relief and c-sections - we had a whole session dedicated to those. We did not, however, discuss formula feeding at all which suited the group fine in the end as all of us hoped to bf initially and all of us did. I felt that we covered a lot of really useful stuff about the birth but also about the early days of parenting and dealing with a newborn.
Several of us had bf issues - mastitis, latch worries etc - and contacted the NCT bf counsellor who was really helpful. She came to my house and had a good chat which really reassured me.
I don't live in an affluent area so it didn't occur to me that the classes would be populated by a 'certain sort' of couple. Thankfully the other couples are all totally down to earth and easy to get on with.
Good point Scottishmummy, the NCT does need to think about how it moves on from here.
I do find it sad though that I was regarded as utterly barking mad by several of DD's friends' mothers for having had a home birth with DD: I've been taken to task with risking her health (this from people who could see she was a perfectly healthy child), so the prejudice goes both ways.
Whatever choice women make, there seems to be another woman waiting there to judge.
I went to NCT classes as a teenage mum and they were brilliant. Couldn't do enough for me. Certainly learned all about drugs, CS and so on. Perhaps it depends who you get.
My experience was that Csections, induction and all the pain relief methods were talked about both in terms of pros and cons and lots of info on what was involved and what choices remained open to you if you ended up with a section. We were also told that statistically 2 of our group of 7 would have a section (spot on, plus one forceps delivery in theatre).
The breastfeeding class which was seperate to the antenatal classes was very pro-breastfeeding, as you'd expect. One couple chose not to attend as they'd decided to formula feed, and that was fine. We all got a handout on safe formula feeding.
Postnatally I've been to a local NHS breastfeeding support group that is run by a NCT breastfeeding counsellor who has been brilliant. I was fortunate that my antenatal group hit it off and we were good friends in the early days and still meet up 6 yrs later.
I'm sure it does vary depending on the teacher and the make-up of the group but that's true of all such things.
I also went to the NHS classes and they were rubbish, there was no time or space to talk about any issues that were important to the individual, and they were so oversubscribed that we were crammed like sardines and many people couldn't get a place until they were due, so gave birth before completing the course.
I'm sure paying for the course and the general ethos does make it very middle-class, but they do offer subsidised courses if you have a low income, not sure what more they can do when they have a very long training program to become an instructor and they quite rightly expect to be paid for their time.
The first thing my NCT teacher asked my group was if anyone was having a home birth - no one was. She then spent the next two days evangelising home births and how great it was to have an independent midwife like her involved, including bringing in one of her previous clients. If I'd had a home birth with a birth pool it would have crashed through our floor into the downstairs flat. Not something she considered about London homes.
If we heard the phrase 'cascade of intervention' once we heard it twenty times and were left in no doubt that medical interventions would be wrong, as would any form of drug with the possible exception of Gas and air. Of course if we were in the right frame of mind the oxytocin would mean we'd be fine anyway .
She showed us how to change a nappy only when asked and nothing was said about c sections.
My group ended up with c sections, forceps, ventouse, inductions etc. These were all painted as bad by the teacher. My group post birth thought the teacher was pretty pointless.
Finally when I called the NCT breastfeeding helpline for help and left a message I was never called back. Frankly they are useless.
Just because she knows how to sew a cushion cover doesn't mean Kirstie Allsop knows anything about other stuff. I would have been lost without the nct when I first had children. I had a c-section and it made no difference at all to my experience of nct, which was completely brilliant.
I'm shocked by some of these stories - haven't come across anything like this. My mum did NCT with me and then with my much younger brother and sister and kept urging me to do it, but there didn't seem to be any antenatal courses in or even near my area when I was pg with DS1. Just before he was born I got an email about a postnatal course and was booked on.
DS1 - induced at 8 days, 26.5 hours labour, ventouse delivery. Problems bf, readmitted with dehydration to paediatrics, very little knowledge or support for bf, in the business of dealing with ill babies and children.
NCT postnatal tutor was quite supportive and non-judgemental. Local NCT tea group was organised by volunteer who was also bf peer supporter and quite committed, but she never said anything which made me feel bad about it, and lots of people who came were bottle feeding. However, we were part of a branch which was mostly run by people in the much posher west of the borough.
Our postnatal group chose to continue meeting for a while but everyone was a bit far away from me as the class had been run just outside the other side of the borough.
Most of the people who made me feel bad with DS1 - I was distressed beyond reason about failing to bf and about the turn things had taken - were NHS staff - I don't remember NCT volunteers or other women at events saying nasty stuff.
I have had mixed feelings about the NCT. When I was pg with DS (born Feb 2011) I did look into classes in my local area (we're in London) but they were about 300 quid, and thought that there was no way I was going to pay that (even though we could've afforded it at a squeeze). DP and I felt we could read up on most of what appears to be covered in the classes, having since spoken to friends who have attended. I think the price of the classes doesn't make the NCT inclusive at all.
I actually joined the NCT after having DS, and got involved in some branch activities. I'm lucky that i've made good friends with about 9 women from there who I see on a regular basis (they comprise of 2 different ante-natal groups who I met at our local playgroup), so that is a big positive. However there aren't many members of our branch 'like me', who are in their twenties, almost EVERYONE seems to be in their thirties or older. This might be our area demographic, being London. I personally couldn't give a crap about age, but I think the NCT could work on encouraging younger members. I know lots of younger people who think the NCT is 'snobby' and wouldn't touch it with a barge pole, which is a shame as it can be a great source of support.
Whilst I can't comment on the NCT's agenda as far as birth is concerned, having never experienced an ante-natal class, I don't particularly like their attitude to formula feeding, as someone who failed to bf, twice. (I now have a DD too). I completely believe in the importance of promoting and encouraging bf, and I think it's great that many branches offer special counsellors to help you if you have problems. BUT there is BARELY any literature on FF, how to FF safely, and some more senior members of our branch treated FF like it was poison. As someone who was FF and had wanted to BF, I felt it was my dirty secret and something to be very ashamed of and like I had 'failed'. There is nothing that seems to support mothers who hadn't managed for whatever reason, and nothing that says "hey, it's ok".
My NCT instructor had a hypnotherapy background (which she was obviously peddling) and gave us stories about waddling around Mark's N Spark doing your shopping while in labour. She was anti pain relief and had it in for mid wives, basically saying that the husbands job was to bring Krispie Cremes into so you would get better service from the midwife. Very anti Pethidine as well.
She had expected us to of done lots of reading about and I was thinking that's I'd paid for..,
There was no chance for a quick shop at Marks to get the Krispie Cremes in during my 30 hour labour.
We all decided she was the last person you'd want at your birth doing Hypnotherapy..and I decided I felt a lot better after Pethidine during my long labour..and that birth was rather in the lap of the gods..
I liked my NCT classes- took me away from the world of work and was the first (and pleasant) experience of other mums to be/mums who lived locally.
That said, I met one in the supermarket 3 years ago who cheerily said the group had an annual reunion every year (the DC were in their teens) and ...left me out every time . So in the end they were snobby after all.
it may have escaped you Bessie but ka like rest of us is discussing .not sewing
her opinion is as valid as anyone send to an extent her schleb meeja raises profile
instead of well it worked for you,what about were nct hasn't worked.the other account
My experience was that is was very pro natural birth and very pro breast feeding. And very anti pethadine (but so my hospital so no issues there really as it wasn't an option).
I was very scared (because it was last chance saloon for us) and hoping for a csection but everything was based on the pros and 'easiness' for natural childbirth and one very short and frightening session on csection. It changed my mind completely (not such a bad thing) and then I wanted natural. For those who wanted natural it sort of pushed them towards wanting the complete natural birth without any pain relief sort of thing.
In any case, my birth was difficult and it ended up in an emergency cs. So I was only a tiny bit prepared and very fearful of the cs as I was more prepared for natural. However I was very unprepared for bf and caring for baby. So in retrospect it was very natural birth centred and hence not that useful for me.
Post birth I found I was judged for not popping to the park every bloody 5 minutes for chat with child with group . I couldn't as I only breastfed in private (my values) and could only do so (old massive tits and the risk of suffocation for ds). Lots of questions about my not breastfeeding in public and not sleep training. So much happier when I dropped out.
My df had a second child (my sis) in his late 50's. He gave me some good advice about parenting across the generations and it's not very complimentary to group motherhood today. He and his second wife just avoided. Sadly I've found his observations to be right.
So NCT was not in hindsight for me. Step mum had 3 kids previously and I'd much rather take her word on stuff than the NCT crowd. And to this day I just stand and watch the group motherhood thing and laugh.
But they fill a gap where hospitals are offering almost no birthing classes.
With DS2, I did an antenatal class - I was the only 2nd timer and the only one who lived in a different borough from where the course was held. We met up for a few months before we started going back to work and several of us are still friends - only one has deleted me (and no one else) from her facebook friends! The teacher did go into some detail about caesarian procedures - I think one woman either had to have a CS or a very carefully managed hospital birth for medical reasons she knew in advance.
I went into labour on a day when we had more snow than London had seen in more than 20 years, buses were cancelled and lots of the hospital staff hadn't made it into work. I ended up with a crash em CS and spent several days on the postnatal ward. I repeatedly begged for help with bf but DS2 still had to be taken back into hospital, we were actually there for even longer because I tried everything before top ups and questioned all the advice I was given.
He did have to have formula top ups but I managed to resist them being anything but top ups (rather than replacements for top ups) and managed to return to bf from 6 weeks to 6 months, and well beyond.
No one made me feel bad about having to have an emcs - it might have been the peculiarly stressful circumstances because of the freak weather conditions (instead of a room on a labour ward, a bed in postnatal with one lovely midwifery manager trying to support 10 screaming women in labour on her own for 4 hours, and then she had someone else to help her and was able to go and argue I really needed to get down to the labour ward). Or it might have been baby's presentation, there was no question in my mind that it was anything I had done, or not.
On BF, 2 of my class gave up quite quickly, one mix fed, and one or two were right, 6 months, great, we can use bottles!
While I don't think it was NCT on its own, I felt I won through the second time because I was able to find information, advice and emotional support from sources which wouldn't exist if it weren't for campaigning from groups like NCT, as well as MN and other online support, and also the help of my local NHS PCT breastfeeding adviser who came out with my health visitor and advised that DS2 was doing ok (he was born 10 lb and dropped way way down the growth curve, but he was growing).
I enjoyed my classes but it all wasn't really me. I had cses and but my kids have breasted forever so pretty balanced overall
I did think they overdid the prep of formula, it was like we were handling a volatile substance, and they completely underdid pain management. But on the whole they are a good counter to all the other info out there.
I am in Scotland, and went to a class in Dunfermline - the closest I could get to where I live. I agree that caesarean sections were not really covered at all- a bit of one class, and not all of that. I was a low-risk mother and ended up having an emergency caesarean and then even more surgery as I had an enormous hemorrage afterwards. I did not feel prepared for this at all! NCT has the message that we can all have a natural birth if we just put our minds to it, but hey, I wanted a water birth for my son and it didn't happen. So I do feel let down that they didn't prepare me in any way for what happened.
I also asked about formula feeding at one session, which was all about breastfeeding, just in case I had problems or well, I like to know everything I can find out. And the teacher just wouldn't discuss it at all. Thank goodness I was able to breastfeed in the end... though when I spent a week in the High Dependency Unit my son did have a bottle now and again because I was on morphine and really out of it! It turns out I was glad he got the occasional bottle because my DP could feed him now and then & DS was able to cope when I had the norovirus when he was 6 weeks old and ended up being hospitalised because of it.
So there were positives to using a bottle, for me, and that sort of story is never told. I would not be the sort of mum they would invite back to talk to a NCT class - they would always invite the mother who had a waterbirth to whale song, if you see what I mean, and that is not everyone's experience.
Also with the NCT, a group of us in the area I live in decided to set up a new branch - I wasn't convinced of the need for it until I heard the reports from the old branch shouting at our representatives for raising the idea. Anyway, we got support at regional level and did it - we have our ups and downs, but just over 3 years on, I think there is more support for women in our area available than there was under the old branch - my borough has a very sharp east west divide and the old branch had 5 tea groups in the west and one for the whole of the east.
We still have room for improvement - most of those involved are the middle class people in a working class area, and we have less people in the north and east of the area than in the south, west and middle. But there is at least stuff going on within walking/easy travelling distance of people's homes.
Hmmm, interesting reading here and I'm namechanging to respond to this thread because I am an NCT antenatal teacher and I like to keep my work and fun separate on Mumsnet.
I too had mixed experiences with the NCT as an attendee when pregnant but with each course I did (three in total), I learned more about the process of labour, birth and the transition to becoming a parent of 1, 2 or more children. I particularly liked the space and time given to considering how my husband and I might choose to parent our children (safe sleeping, what did we think about crying/sleeping/different methods, how were we going to seek support around us after the baby was born). It was a gentle, exploratory, questioning environment to open the door to parenthood but made it very clear that the choices were for us to make.
I'm not sure my husband would have engaged with any preparation for the birth of our first child had we not gone to classes. For that alone, I am thankful that we went.
But I too was doubtful about some of the topics covered (vaccinations?) at the time, the breastfeeding teaching was diabolical and the group was very varied in its income level so I didn't really find any common buddies. The local branch was unwelcoming of poorer members as well.
But we moved, did the classes again in another area, they were monumentally better, we were also more experienced and perhaps asked more knowledgeable questions and found the experience more satisfying. The local branch were lovely, I have made friends through the class, through volunteering, through attending the baby group and some of my closest friends (and bookgroup pals) were people I met through or via NCT links. No regrets there. Whole range of birth experiences as well.
Everyone I meet has a different opinion on any topic you care to mention. The same is true for birth/parenting (evidence being this site, which I love). The individual opinions matter to those individuals, because they're making the right decisions for them, at that time, with the information they are comfortable using.
I chose to begin training as an antenatal teacher with the NCT because I felt that I was capable of doing what others had done for me and my husband - lay out and explain/enable us to explore what goes on (or might go on), how we might choose different options and what the evidenced-based pros and cons of some of those choices might impact us and give a space and time to explore the changeover into becoming parents and how we might want to plan or discuss our different views together beforehand, while considering the impact of our changing relationship after the birth of the baby. All of it, not just some of it.
Sometimes, just looking at the evidence on, say, effects of epidurals, can be quite challenging to someone who had previously been thinking that it was a failsafe fallback solution. I don't have an agenda there in raising the evidence other than supporting someone to make an informed choice about their decision to have an epidural.
I hope I do that, I know I love meeting such a wide spectrum of parents (and every single one is different) and exploring what it is that they want to consider or cover in preparation for this particular baby. Not every person in every class/group will find everything we cover in classes helpful nor will they agree with it, that's OK. But we always cover Csection, induction, NICU, recovery etc etc, because that's part of a potential birth outcome.
The group define the agenda, they come up with the topics and I design the course around them. We can't cover everything either. I ask them on the last session to discuss together or to define for themselves how and where they are going to find the information that we have not covered (various, depending on the course)?
So, I suppose I am sad in reading some of the posts on this thread and hesitated before posting this. Am still in two minds now, here we go.
FFS how is anyone supposed to afford that.
I reckon you are bang on scottishmummy, that price is designed to weed out the undesirables (i.e. ME) without them having to actually admit they don't want working class/single mums/non-u
I know they have to cover costs but bloody hell. If they were that dedicated to promoting maternal health and empowered childbirth, surely they would be working with NHS free classes?
Outreach to the women who are most likely to need to know about options available to them?
Their little heads would pop off if they spent a day chatting to my mates round here. Induction, sweeps, hospital births and ECS are seen as inevitable by the majority of women I know.
Birth is something to be feared, it is something that you do not think about or plan for, you just hope you get through it alive.
Most have difficult and problematic pregnancies despite being young.
You do as you are told by medics you are meant to dislike and distrust.
There is a real need for non judgemental and appropriate, sensitive information.
I won't hold me breath.
NCT was a great way of meeting friends - 2 couples we're still very close with nearly 5 years on. Worth every penny for having a ready made support network!
But, in defence of NCT, I felt well prepped for my birthing plan stuff (birthing buckets, balls and all kinds of paraphernalia) right through to a C-section, and never felt that either was the 'right' way.
The ante-natal yoga group i went to was far worse....I was the only woman who actually WANTED to have the birth in a hospital....everyone else wanted a birthing tup in a yurt etc.!
I'm pregnant again now, and wish there was an NCT round 2 for Mums who've done it before but want to scrub up on things and meet new people.
The breadth of people's experience with NCT varies hugely; our teacher was very pragmatic. We role played the operating theatre and all and it was a very open and non judgemental environment. I have other friends who have used it and their teacher was clearly biased towards home births and other low intervention options. A close friend of mine lost her baby at 35 weeks - the teacher was very, very supportive.
Like any other largish organisation there will be variation in its teachers and their beliefs and how (or if) the NCT may choose action to standardise its teaching without ridding it of all personality and diversity will be interesting to see. It may seek to maintain the status quo, who knows.
It was bloody expensive though. I took ante natal classes at our local leisure centre at a fiver a pop and they were what got me through. The NHS ones were delivered (sorry, no pun intended) at the hospital and were more lecturey but very, very informative.
Just read KA - On breastfeeding - no, it's not just a case of trying harder or being braver. But, nor does it just happen, or not. My experience - wanted to and couldn't first time, desperately upset about it, managed to fight through the problems with a lot of support and advice and preparation the second time. That support and advice exists because women's organisations like the NCT campaigned for it and developed the support and advice services. When it didn't work for me, it wasn't the NCT who made me feel like shit, ever!
My question for KA and other people rubbishing the NCT is: would you like to have decisions about how to give birth and how to feed simply taken away from women altogether? Should everyone simply be told how she's going to give birth and how she's going to feed her baby?
I think we should argue for women to have the right to choose how and when to have children, how to give birth, how to feed them - those decisions shouldn't be made just by healthcare providers (public or private!). Don't get me started on baby feeding issues. I think that's what the NCT intended to do when it was set up.
And re. the ready made friends. It only works if you actually like the people in your group. Frankly, we just didn't like the rest of the people in ours. At the start of the first session, when the teacher was going around asking us why we were there, the general answer was along the lines of 'Now we've paid our money, tell us how we get preferential treatment from the NHS.'
I went to an NCT support group in 1993 when I had my eldest dd. I was just 20, a single mum on benefits. I didnt go back!
OxfordtoLondoner, I believe there are refresher courses, but there wasn't one near me when I did it 2nd time around, I still found the course I did with 5 sets of first timers useful.
I also managed to get on to a refresher NHS course at the hospital - just 2 hours or so rather than a full day, and we were all 2nd timers.
Have you contacted your local branch about social activities etc? Our branch was set up by 2nd timers and many of the people involved now have 2-3 kids. Our events are generally open to all and you don't have to be a member, and this is generally NCT policy (also true of local tea groups. You should be able to find branch contact details through the NCT website, many of us also have facebook pages now, and my branch has an email list. We also now have teas organised on a basis of due and birth dates, about three months at a time (I'm hazy about the details because my kids aren't exactly babies now )
elkiedee I agree we should give women as many options as possible, but the vast majority of people cannot get the support from the NCT as the cost is prohibitive.
I've just searched my local branch online, there's nothing going on at all! Rubbish really seeing as it covers both towns and country.
My sister spent years trying to get rid of her NCT 'friends'.
She was expected to host a coffee morning every few weeks and when she got fed up it was like trying to leave a cult
Mmm lots of views and I would have to say that the NCT classes were useful however there were comments before and after from the teacher that we all noted at different times as a group .......
that a natural childbirth was the aim and we should strive for this with whale music, balls, massages, baking cakes whilst in labour
Natural childbirth good, induction, interventions bad.
Hospital staff will 'scare' into accepting induction.
We didn't cover enough on pain relief, apart from pethadine generally not good, no other options really covered drug wise and there are others out there like meptid.
That local hospital would induce on Tuesdays or Thursdays to avoid weekends if possible, she made it sound like hospital was already trying to control us, she reiterated that we had a choice and could say no, it was our body etc etc
somewhere in there she said this was for staffing reasons as weekends not as well covered for the interventions which induction brings on, which as we all reflected, like it or lump it is the truth but it didn't come over in a positive light
Out of a group of 7, 6 were induced (including me) and we all felt like we'd failed, teacher did convey an air of disappointment like a 'bad luck you couldn't do it on your own' in my case it was day 13 or 14 after dd and I was already 3cms and DS was out in 4.5 hours, teacher said 'sounds like they should have let you do it on your own'.....well maybe but actually what's wrong with wanting to give birth when hospital has more staff and actually, how long would it have been? As it was it turned out DS born with no waters round him, no one knows where they went but he was very small.
Arf @ 'cult'. I think the reason we shed ours so fast was that they didn't like us either.
Not my experience at all either. I really enjoyed my NCT course and have made some great friends that I see every week and my DH catches up with the other DHs too.
Our teacher talked through c-sections and all the drugs in detail. She had a playmobile toy theatre set with all the people and machines that would be involved. I ended up with a forceps delivery in the theatre and thought of that playmobile set! I knew what job all the crowd of medical staff were doing around me.
Especially appreciated that the course was tailored around what our group wanted to learn about. There was also a great exercise about your first 24 hours when you get your baby home.
I found the NHS antenatal course very brief and not at all as comprehensive. The tour around the maternity ward turned into an advertisement for paying for a private room...
This all just shows how different individual teachers are.
I was very lucky and had a great teacher who gave us facts.
My Dsis had an awful teacher who didn't do much information, but concentrated on 'feelings' and airey-fairy stuff (in her opinion).
In my class, the dads all came along to the bitter end; DSis, the dads stopped coming pretty quickly.
During my time in the organisation, I came to the conclusion that there needs to be stronger guidelines about exactly what is covered and how the subject is taught. There also needs to be a method of feedback to NCT HQ and probably some more checks on the content of the classes.
I think Kirstie is expecting NCT to do the job the NHS should be doing. NHS should provide good antenatal and postnatal support. In my area it does not. She probably doesn't understand this because she had her babies privately and has not had the experience of NHS care, which in my experience is that you are sometimes not given all the facts or choices about your care, nor much choice about the time or place if will occur. It's quite a shock when your previous experience of healthcare has been the odd trip to the GP and you are used to total control of your life.
She also fails to understand there is a difference between what comes out centrally (usually) thorough, evidenced based research and information,
although their website is shit and so difficult to use that the classes are just a tiny bit of what they do and that it is the local branches who run things like postnatal support groups, meet-ups, activities, first aid classes and Nearly New Saies... and all for free as unpaid volunteers!
Yes the NCT has an agenda. Yes, it's not for everyone but to label it a "scary organisation" and describe everything they stand for as "bollocks" is very unfair. In the last two years they have changed policy of many things including breastfeeding which is great. Yes, do they promote and support breastfeeding but that's because there's no commercial interest in breastfeeding so NCT provides some balance to the formula companies huge marketing efforts. And of course breasts don't come with instructions unlike tins of formula. I've fed my babies both ways and I know which one was easiest to learn to do and it wasn't breastfeeding.
There are some bad teachers. Of course there are when the quality control relies on feedback from course attendees and IMO that should change. There are other things I would change about NCT, just as there are things I would change about the NHS, my workplace, my supermarket and other places I come into contact with. The difference is I make an effort to do it in an informed, constructive way. Kirstie Allsopp, by her own admission has not. She has never attended an NCT course or group. She has never engaged with the organisation directly (Twitter sniping excepted and really, Belinda Phipps should know better too). She is hugely uninformed and she also has a commercial interest which I doubt she is even aware of because she is so ignorant of the actual facts: NCT has an advertising relationship with Unilever and Kirstie is employed to promote and advertise products for their main rival P&G. Messy.
For the record my first set of antenatal classes were excellent and prepared all of us for birth (1 elective c-section, 1 emcs after failed ventouse and other intervention, 1 epidural, episiotomy and ventouse, 1 epidural vaginal delivery, 1 vaginal with g&a and pethedine and 1 planned homebirth with g&a). The breastfeeding session was rubbish. Nothing can prepare you for a newborn IMHO.
My local branch is great. Brilliant magazine, nearly new sales and activities.
Second class not as good as first but still good.
I also think people forget NCT is a charity and a members charity. That means they act in the interests of members, so if you are an NCT member and not happy with the organisation get involved and change things!
Oh, and NCT classes are not mandatory. If you have zero interest in "natural" childbirth don't do the classes. If you don't want to breastfeed do tho to that session. You might still benefit from an Early Days postnatal course or a yoga course or being an NCT member or joining your local branch or volunteering. Many options to join in are completely free.
The short answer is, I think Kirstie is right.
The long winded version is, I have mixed feelings about the NCT. I was desperate for a natural birth, and felt devastated when I didn't get one, largely because of NCT teaching. I came to believe that any interventions such as epidural, instrumental delivery, etc, were second best, and that a caesarean was a disaster. These interventions are a reality for a great many women, and making them it seem like a failure has no real benefit to the women, but serves only to promote NCT beliefs.
In retrospect, yes, I do feel let down by this, as the disappointment of "failing" at childbirth contributed to me having post-natal depression. Being disappointed at the birthing experience, when you have a beautiful new baby, totally dependent on you, is just really messed up. However, this attitude is not really just an NCT thing, I had some grief from a breast-feeding advisor in the hospital, one day after delivery, telling me what a shame it was I had a caesarean.
On the plus side, I was happy to go through the experience of having a baby with the support of NCT classes and I have long lasting friendships from my NCT group that have been very valuable, and I expect these will be friends for life.
I found Kirstie's blog to be spot on. My daughter is 6 months old and I avoided NCT classes. A friend of mine did attend them but seemed to pay a hefty price just to make some friends.
I've made some wonderful friends without paying out. As some others have said the classes seem to be populated by middle class women who probably (as did I) have already researched to the nth degree. What is this charity doing to help all those ill informed pregnant young girls out there? I've noticed it's a certain age group who attend all the baby classes I go to as well... women and their babies under the age of 25 are few and far between!
It does concern me that those who have Caesareans are made to feel inadequate. I was born that way and my mum said it made no difference to the wonderful bond she had with me whatsoever.
wewereherefirst - NCT courses can cost a lot of money, too much for many. But you don't have to do a course or pay for NCT membership to access local groups or other support.
I attended NCT when pregnant with DD. My primary motivation to go was to meet other mums to be and hopefully make a few good friends. To be fair I did just this and would probably not have survived my first year as a mum with out my NCT girls. However, other than providing an initial meeting to meet these women, and pay £200 for the privilege, I did not enjoy it and would agree with much of what Kirsty has said.
4 out of the six of us were planning either homebirths or births in midwife- led units. During one session, the 2 of us who weren't planning home births (including me) were singled out and made to voice our reasons as to why we didnt want a home birth. We came up with the usual stuff of safety etc. Each point we made was listed and then gunned down by the instructor as being either wrong or misguided.
Both of us remarked afterwards how intimidated we had felt at this point, and had almost left and not come back. It was totally counter productive and made us more set to have hospital births.
Whilst pushing home births to us, at no point did she counsel those who were planning on HB about any potential risk or problems may occur (and actually did in some cases) during home births and only mentioned in passing that occasionally there is a need to transfer to hospital AFTER the birth, not mentioning things that can go wrong before!
Induction was something to be avoided at all costs and it was implied you could control when you went into labour.
She did talk about C-sections and did a role play where we had to hook bits of string up to one of us, via a clothes peg, to signify all the tubes and lines that are attached to mums during labour and c-sections. While I think its important to educate women about what may need to happen during a birth, it was OTT and unnecessarily scary.
There was also an incident where the instructor was talking about the Vitamin K injections for the baby and how it was much better to give it orally rather than the "massive dose they insist on giving in hospital", where I had to practically break my husband's hands to stop him standing up and arguing with her about this.
Celine but the NCT doesn't run all those wonderful things you have listed everywhere, it's very much a postcode lottery, just like the NHS. Once again it's those who can't afford to pay really do miss out!
Could not disagree with Kirstie more.
I went to NCT antenatal classes 14 years ago, cost us the princely sum of £60, to meet naice middle class parents like us, ho ho. The teacher was at pains to be impartial about different birth "choices" (Ha! like you get a choice when push comes to shove ). One of the dads in our group was an anaesthetist and he chipped in with pertinent info. about hospital procedure In a bizarre coincidence he was on duty when I had a hideous induction and gave me a spinal block - another story!
It was only after we had all had our babies and at our "reunion" with the NCT teacher that she revealed she herself had had a hypnobirth with no pain relief whatsoever for her first and only child (respect!). None of us had the faintest idea that she had any inclination towards the "woo" and she certainly did not put any pressure on any of us. I stayed in touch with most of the girls and although at least 3 of us had a really bad time in labour (2 sections) none of us felt the classes made us feel it was our "fault".
However I do wonder whether antenatal classes in general would do better to focus more on coping skills and strategies for once you have given birth and have to cope with the next 18 years+....
I had a great NCT teacher (Mama of four delivered both CS and vaginally) and she was always careful to point out where things might not work out and what could happen. I think one of our first lessons included a discussion on interventions to assist birth including photos (I even sent her a picture of DD1's head after having an scalp electrode to add to her photo album). I went back for a refresher with the same teacher and she helped us work through the feelings left over from our first delivery.
On the other hand I felt very bullied by the Doctors (Consultant told me I was going to kill my baby trying for a VBAC with #2 - in front of my DD leaving me beside myself and sobbing). The information I gathered myself and the experience of my teacher helped me stand up for myself to an extent.
I have been confronted by many negative attitudes to CS over the years having had three CS (1st - meconium & un-dilating cervix, 2nd - giant baby & no labour, 3rd - transverse baby). When swapping birth stories I got skipped over by a class mate from pregnancy yoga and dismissed with "Oh dear, maybe next time." People have said I didn't try hard enough, have suggested I'm lazy or I didn't know what I was doing. SIL who had vaginal water births at home was particularly fond of having a dig.
For me as a new Mama trying to cope with a child not gaining weight these pervasive assumptions that I had done something wrong were really damaging and made me feel isolated.
Now I always repeat what my NCT teacher said when we were discussing attitudes to my CS: "Until someone has had a labour go wrong they can never understand what it's like."
I blogged about Joyful Caesarean births just before number three came along: Joyful Caesarean
I firmly believe the need for a vag-of-honour is harmful and attitudes need to change.
I think NCT attract people who want a "natural" birth believing it to be best and we all put extraordinary pressure on ourselves to be perfect when it really doesn't matter. Does anybody honestly care if they were delivered vaginally or by c-section? What pain relief option their mother chose? i doubt it. A bad teacher will perpetuate the myth of a perfect birth by failing to dispel it but she won't plant the seed in the first place. That comes from unrealistic portrayals of birth in the media and poor education and knowledge of the realities of birth and parenthood. This possibly also plays a part in our high rates of teenage pregnancy too. NCT has a part to play but the groundwork needs to have happened already.
I also think people's perceptions of what other people think can be off. I have a friend who has had a homebirth with her first baby. People presume she is some sort of woo hippy type and that she thinks everyone should birth like that. She is the exact opposite of that. She is almost militant in her views that medicine should be evidenced based and clinical decisions should be based on individual need and known risks. She also firmly states that if she was transferred to hospital she would want to be hooked up to every drug and monitor going if that's what the HCPs recommended! She campaigns for choice in birth whether it be home, hospital room, hospital theatre or MLU. I asked her about Kirstie's comments. She sighed and said that she was disappointed she hadn't done her research before adding that in her [Kirstie's] shoes she would most likely have gone for a c-section too because she has really big babies and that she should not feel guilty about taking the right decision for herself, but equally she shouldn't rubbish an organisation that helps women like her to have the birth that's right for them.
wewereherefirst The NCT doesn't run these local things from their central office, local parent volunteers do. Most are NCT members but not all. If things aren't happening locally where you are that is because
you someone isn't bothering to run it.
A bit like you only have a Scout troop where people volunteer to run it or a book club where people bother to organise the meeting and turn up. NCT is the same - low level, local support offering shared experiences but with a parenting angle as the focus.
There was nothing much in my local area until a couple of people stepped up. They do a marvellous job for virtually no thanks
And they're free! Or the cost of a coffee or a £1 donation or something. Local support and classes can be and are mutually exclusive.
Sorry not read all thread.
Didn't it used to the Natural Childbirth Trust? So that's why they lean away from sections?
I have good experiences of the classes, also did hospital ones, which gave not much info, a video of a birth, but a tour of the unit, good for making going into hospital 1st time less scary. But awful place and managed to avoid 2nd time, but NCT classes helped with unassisted home birth.
NCT 'friends' were ok, shame since it's very middle class, we all worked and coffee mornings fell apart at about 6 months when we all were working different days etc. I still keep in touch with a few 7 years on.
On balance I think it's a good organisation, has its good and bad teachers. But doesn't deserve the slating people who haven't gone to classes give it.
Correct me if I'm wrong but they have fought to help women give birth the way they want, and for stopping the pubic hair shaving and enemas my mother went through? And for those 2 changes I salute them.
They also campaigned for dads in the delivery room.
Totally agree with WillabyWallaby (and others) that the vitriol and criticism spouted by those who have never even set foot in an NCT class, group or activity is unfair.
I might also add it makes some look a teeny bit like sheep or, in some cases, a bit thick
Lucky DH was there for the 1st, since he delivered the 2nd. Another thanks to NCT.
Oh, and the breast feeding councillor that listened to me crying while I decided whether or not to stop breastfeeding at around 2 wks in was the one who helped me feed DS1 to 6mnths and then DS2 to 12months. Again a good experience.
Oh how I love being called a thick sheep. Baaa hurrdurr.
Here is the reason why i don't now want to go to NCT classes. The insults that are thrown if you don't fit in.
Bf, natural birthing cloth nappying. babywearing working class mama here.
I had a good experience of the NCT. I ended up with a forceps birth in theatre in readiness for CS and was so grateful for the really good preparation I had had from my NCT class - I knew there would be loads of people in there, and why. We had a reasonably broad mix of people (all couples though, I imagine it might be off-putting to someone who had to go on their own). In short, I felt really well prepared for the birth, however it might happen. And I met some really lovely people and got used to meeting new people with my "mum hat" on, both of which have been invaluable since the birth. If it's relevant, my DD was born in 2006.
The people I know who joined the NCT classes did so to meet other mums of a similar social level (?!). I wasn't going to spend £200+ just to meet people, would rather spend it on ds! Our midwife ran classes that were a) very funny but realistic and b) totally free! With all the info thats out there in books and on the internet I don't know what you get out of it that you can't get from the free classes (unless you just want to meet "professional" people, tbh I had enough of them at work!)
erm, wewereherefirst I was referring to those posters who are commenting negatively on the content and attitude of an organisation they have no direct experience of. I didn't particularly notice you do that so I'm sorry if you identified with that.
It does kind of kind my point though that people have different perceptions and project things onto others that are not necessarily correct.
Ime people at nct classes do not throw insults. Nor is there a particular fit in the branch where I go. Everyone is very different, the only thing we have in common is geography!
Having read through the thread some of the things people have experienced are awful and there is no place for anywhere and especially not NCT!
Haven't had time to read but just wanted to post that I totally, completely and utterly agree with Kirstie. My local NCT group terrified me and was totally unhelpful and unsupportive when I was unable to breastfeed due to a baby with a palate not optimal and after three bouts of infective mastitis and a breast abscess. Found them unrealistic and unhelpful and speak also as a member of the Maternity Liaison Committee and vice chair of the local CHC. Found it quite shocking actually that a such a bunch of amateurs had so much influence over women and their choice. It did however speak volumes about the ineptitude of information available via local maternity services and trained professionals.
Sorry, I've only read the first page so far but wanted to add my story - I live in a very "NCT" area (!) and when pregnant with Dc1, 9 years ago, I rang to enquirer about courses. The bloke I spoke to told me that he ran the courses and his wife assisted him, which I must say I found a little strange since he didn't possess a uterus but hey ho. He asked me about my pregnancy and I told him that at that point (can't remember exactly but well over 30weeks) the baby was transverse and that my midwife was keeping an eye on me in case I needed a planned c-section. This NCT bloke said, "oh we don't encourage c-sections" in a snooty voice, to which I replied, "well, a transverse baby won't come out without one, will it?" He didn't answer that but asked me how I planned to feed my baby, apparently my response "with milk" wasn't adequate so he asked my if I was going to breastfed.... I said no, I was planning to bottle feed, to which he said we don't agree with bottle feeding or caesareans so I'm afraid you won't be able to come to our classes
No agenda? Ha!!
Nct began as natural childbirth trust and it continues to focus on what is "natural" so it isn't surprising some many of nct classes have that focus.
For me was
Long while ago now but it doesn't sound like it has changed I found all classes focused too much on the birth event. As the be all and end all. There is too little focus on the next eighteen years...,
Also as someone who had had extreme period pain In Teenage years enough to knock me out for a day I was told that labour pains would be even more worse than that... That wasn't true. They were the same kind of severe pain as the v severe period pains in my teens. Which makes sense really.
Agree cestlavielife. Not about the intensity of labour and period pains but as mother to an 18 year old, childbirth and breast feeding is a very small if not miniscule part of being a mummy.
I'm glad someone is finally standing up for other women against the Smuggy McSmuggersons who think parenthood is some kind of competition. I love Kirstie even more for it.
I havent read all the thread, but I get sick of all the knocking that goes on. The NCT course I did 8 years ago was useful to me as it gave useful information about what to expect from birth and shortly thereafter. We are from very small families with no other young children so had no support available to us. We met some lovely families - havent made friends for life but it was great at the time. It was the NCT Breastfeeding councillor who spotted my DS's tongue tie very early on, when the local NHS health visitors were just stressing me out and being utterly useless.
I have started volunteering recently with my local branch and feel that many of the services they provide help new parents to get settled with little ones.
what everyone else is thinking; property, craft, motherhood is there anything this polymath isn't an expert on?
I have always avoided them like the plague. The reason being that the NCT seem to attract a certain personality type. They tend to meet up in the school playground and try to impart their knowledge upon anyone in earshot.
An nct course is as good or bad as the person running it. I joined to meet people but learned a lot. We had a very open, informative, non judgemental leader who outlined pros of natural birth. Like it or not it does have benefits for mother and baby (as do other methods). I had elective c and felt brilliant about it.
Advice from health carers varied hugely when DC was tiny - hospital nurses on to swaddle or not being earliest example and drs being fairly clueless about ailments. When in london my midwife appts were short and impersonal whereas nct time valued the whole experience far more without being prescriptive about natural birth.
Kirsty is doing women a disservice by pointing them away from a source of information, support and friendship,
Superkat LOL at vag-of-honour
Not my experience at all and nor that of my sisters', sister-in-laws, friends, wives of colleagues or in fact anyone else I'v ever spoken to about the NCT! I had a great NCT teacher who tailored the course for what we all wanted to know and so covered c-sections in detail and bottle feeding. She did spend a good amount of time on breast feeding and explained that it isn't easy.
What I really hate is the blame culture. Why do people try and blame someone else for things that they had nothing to do with? One of my NCT group ended up having a c-section because her baby was breach. She was upset as she hadn't wanted one, but she was fine, her baby was fine and ultimately it was the right thing to do. Did she try and blame the NCT for not preparing her? No!
I had a third degree tear, was whisked off to theatre for stitches and took a long time to recover form my birth. Do I blame anyone for this? No! It was just what happened.
I think that people should stop trying to blame people for their own choices and just get on with it.
Oh and 'scary'? Really?! Well when I rang their breast feeding helpline in tears a few days after my baby was born after pretty much no sleep for four days, because she couldn't latch on and was losing weight and everyone was telling me to bottle feed because I was obviously useless at breastfeeding, I didn't find the lady on the other end of the phone who reassured me, talked me through everything and was the first person who told me I was doing a great job very scary - she saved my sanity, gave me confidence and made me feel for the first time that it was going to be ok. I went on to breastfeed my DD for two years thanks to her.
My course was mixed in terms of the biases Kirsty has raised. We did the Caesarian role play thing, but our discussion of pain relief was in the context of 'cascade of intervention'. My thoughts are that it attracts a certain type of parent because a lot of the negativity towards any medical help came from the parents themselves not the tutor. I attended at the time of the swine flu outbreak. Only 2 of the 8 of us had the vaccine because, ' quote ' it might be like thalidomide again'. When pain relief and interventions were discussed, there was so much handwringing and talk of feeling like a failure that I got a bit annoyed and said that these things weren't invented as a punishment but to save lives. The response was , 'are you going have an elective Caesarian then?' This was the
parents, not the tutor. The reality for me was that I went on to have a text book 'vag of honour' (love that phrase) birth in the hospital with no pain relief etc, but I gained huge confidence that those things were there to be used if I needed them.
Second time round I did need all the interventions because my baby was breech. I was mentally and emotionally prepared for a different experience. But I went into labour before my elective date and had an emergency c-sec. It was a bad experience because the hospital was rammed, theatres were full, I got to 10cm with no pain relief offered trying not to labour. Horrible thing to go through. My wish is that the NCT would throw its weight into campaigning more pragmatically to make medicalised births better, not fewer. From my limited experience, and limited knowledge, more midwives would be a good place to start.
I've had, and have friends who have had, quite mixed experiences with NCT over the last year or so. I didn't do their antenatal classes - I knew pretty much from the outset (and perhaps a little more open eyed to childbirth having been my sister's birth partner) that the natural path was going to be a pipe dream from me - I would happily have wrestled the drugs trolley off the midwife upon admission! As it was, i had a prolonged labour (60 hours) resulting in emcs and then various horrendous complication postnatally. That wasn't anything to do with having a medicalised birth; my DD's neck was deflexed and nothing would have got her out - not even 'trying harder'. HA.
However, i did do their postnatal course and found that fantastic. To be honest on the face of it, it is pretty much daylight roberry - 80 and you are lucky to have a cup of tea and a couple of print outs over the duration of the course but it really gave me an organised (ie, i didn't have to go and seek it out whilst in a postnatal fog) outlet to discuss how i was feeling in those early weeks and really try to get to grips with this new role and the changes that came with it. That alone was worth the 80 quid - not to mention the amazing women that i met through it who are now great friends.
The expense of the classes wasn't the main reason for me not engaging with the antenatal classes, it was more because i researched their philosophies and knew that i would be doing myself a disservice to only persue a method which in the main wasn't going to give me the information that i may really have needed - and did need, in the end. I'm a little bit staggered when people say that they didn't get enough info about medicalised births and interventions - what did they expect when they did NCT? Surely every woman should ensure that she has all the information regarding childbirth that she needs. I don't believe that it's up to one organisation to provide everything; it is up to YOU, as a woman, about to make sure that you have all the information that you may need and know where to get that from.
I fear that there is a lovely middle class glow and smugness about attending NCT antenatal classes and it is just the 'done' thing for some new mothers to be - rather than absolutely what that mother REALLY needs.
I must also say that i bloody really hate this culture that you are in someway a better woman, or mother, if you have a birth with no drugs or intervention. Fucking hell, it HURTS. It really fucking HURTS! WHY would women NOT access EVERYTHING that she might need in order to have the most pain free (and safe for her child) labour possible?
I understand the points made, and agree that an NCT course is only as good as the individual running it. However, Kirstie seems to think she is expert in all areas: home buying (she is pretty good at that); craft work and now childbirth. I personally find her patronising and smug, a bit like the NCT, in fact.
It really pisses me off that Kirstie Allknowing slags off the NCT without ever having experienced classes or the support it offers.
A lot of responses on here have been along the lines of 'well I know what the NCT's philosophy is - they're anti pain relief, bottle-feeding, caesareans etc'
Really?? show me the bit on the NCT's website where they say pain relief etc is wrong and that the only way to give birth is in an orgasmic trance while listening to whale song ...
I could however show you the pages where the NCT looks at reasons why CS might be necessary, what happens during a CS, tips on recovery afterwards etc - no value judgements, just information
I was an NCT teacher for a while - I always covered caeseareans, induction, pain relief, assisted birth ... I always told the couples coming to my classes that there was no 'right' way to give birth, that nobody was awarding medals for drug-free birth and that I and the NCT weren't going to be judging them. My job was to give them the information - and that included ways of avoiding interventions if that's what they wanted - and it was up to them to use it, or not.
By the way, whoever it was who said they had a male NCT teacher 9 years ago - that's impossible - when I was training you could only start the course if you had given birth (which obviously excludes men ...)
My NCT teacher was definitely anti-bottle feeding and definitely left the impression that you had failed if you didn't give birth naturally. She upset a couple of my friends at a post natal group she ran, one of whom had given up breastfeeding and the other was returning to full-time work and putting her son in full-time day care. She (nct teacher) did not hold back with her views on bottle and nursery.
I have a mixed feeling about my NCT course. From one hand it was clear that only drug free naturally started labour with breastfeeding would do. We were banned from talking about pain during labour - "uncomfortable" was considered the only appropriate word. From another hand we had a brief "role play" when our teacher was a woman about to have a Cesarean and we were supposed to say who would be normally present and arrange ourselves in those various roles around her. This mental picture really helped me during my EmC. I had huge problems with breastfeeding afterwards and when I practically begged for help there was no help forthcoming. To be fair there were no LL consultants and nothing at the hospital.
Forgot to mention that free antenatal classes at Guy's hospital that I managed to attend before we moved out of London were fantastic. Also a midwife told me that this "labour is not painful" attitude doesn't help. Because they receive petrified women in early stages of labour that think that something is horribly wrong if it's more than uncomfortable. In some cases it just stalls their labour. She didn't realise that this source of information is NCT.
We weren't told labour wasn't painful by our NCT teacher, but she was a midwife at a local NHS hospital so was very good.
Pleased that Guy's was fantastic
because I trained there but Poole was poor IMO.
basildonbond it was me who mentioned the male NCT teacher and I can assure you that I am not lying, thank you very much. If you had bothered to read my story you would have seen that he told me that I would not be able to attend the classes that he ran with his wife's assistance as I planned to bottle feed. I complained about this to the Chief Exec of the NCT. Presumably his wife was the designated teacher but that's not what he told me on the phone, I'm sorry if this pisses you off but it is the truth. Some people have their own agenda and will push it at all costs - this is the same in the NCT as anywhere else.
My NCT teacher 9y ago told me not to worry if my milk didn't come in day 1 because babies are born with a full stomach and won't get hungry for a few days. This advice did not help me personally.
Another gripe about the "couples" nature of the "course" - most blokes if they are honest find it completely boring (and some women too!) I just don't think anything can really prepare you for the shock of giving birth and having a newborn, expectations are perhaps too high of what you are meant to gain. With hindsight it was a waste of money and time!
I looked at going to NCT classes, but they only ran classes in more affluent areas than ours. Which, tbh, pissed me off - they're more like the "Middle Class Areas Childbirth Trust" than the "National Childbirth Trust". If they're a charity they should do more outreach than they do at the moment, which only seems to consist of one project in Leeds. Presumably a middle class couple who are articulate and knowledgeable already will be less likely to be railroaded into interventions than a single mum from a deprived area.
I also had had loads of fertility problems and IVF to get pg. I felt that I was already going to fall foul of their "natural is best" ideology, and to be honest by this point wasn't really that fussed about how the baby came out as long as we were both ok at the end of it.
Maybe it's unfair to slate them without actually having gone. But I do think that their image and dogma alienates a lot of women from the outset, and there are probably lots of women out there who don't know anything about them.
basildon you seem unable to tolerate,or accept others experience of nct
so because you'd ok time,ergo all nct is good?these are others real life accounts
Kirstie has raised a valid topic and the next biggie is how doe snct sort it's damaged brand and reputation
I've just got back from my first NCT class. I was concerned that I'd find it annoying and too focused on natural birth etc but in actual fact I found it excellent.
I have a biology degree and have read a lot of information about labour and birth and everything the course tutor said coincided with my own scientific knowledge and understanding.
I felt she gave a very balanced overall view. In the class we looked at what happens in a textbook labour, relaxation techniques and then spent around an hour looking at the pros and cons of the different pain relief options.
At no point did I feel that the 'natural is best' philosophy was pushed. The other people on the course seemed very nice and a good cross section of our town, but obviously as others have said the course costs will put off people on low incomes (although I believe discounts are available if you are on benefits).
I think like with a lot of things, it's all down to the course tutor and the sort of people who run the local NCT. If they're sensible, then that's great. If they are cliquey and judgemental then I can understand it putting people off massively.
I think people need to separate the classes from the whole organisation.
the classes are the organization,and how majority of folk encounter nct
frankly the brand is tarnished and IMO nct has many negative connotations
this is what allsopp has touched upon,with many agreeing with her sentiments
Oh well, this will all be worth it if NCT pay attention and listen.
Elastamum my midwife friend was also quietly horrified at the message NCT pushed. (Admittedly this was in the 90s and I am sure they have changed).
Big advantage to NCT: 1. I met some of my best mates there. 2. It is a huge network opportunity if you are in a new area. Nothing is worse than being isolated post birth when 8 out of 10 people have PND. 3. I really enjoyed giving something back in postnatal support volunteering.
Because I had been so shaken by my own birth (but it wasn't the ra ra thing to say it is all supposed to be FANTASTIC) it was nice to reassure people that they were doing FINE if they were still in their pyjamas at 4 o clock, to not dress up but come along in their trackies (and if they were still in their pyjamas that was fine too - but nobody did!), that if they felt depressed bewildered and lost that was normal and not a sign of failure, that they were NOT fat and useless, that the industrial 24 hour clock (9 -5) was irrelevant and that they were not lazy to sleep when baby slept - because sure as eggs they would be up at 2 and beyond.
My group grew and grew and people from other 'districts' came. Doing some good and giving something back was very rewarding, to see these shell-shocked new mothers getting their confidence and coming out of themselves, just because they were given a safe predictable space.
Women are so hard on themselves!
scottishmummy I think the classes are just part of what they do and in my experience were worth the money. I think as a whole they do good and shouldn't be slated, but that's just my opinion.
I have to say, I agree with Kirstie.
I'm in Surrey. The local NCT is elitist and middle class. They are regarded as the junior branch of the Women's Institute.
I live on a council estate: they leave the likes of me safely alone I heard nothing from them when any of my children were born. Loads of meet ups and coffee mornings, I understand - if I'd been living in the right areas of town.
Especially after my first, I was desperate for help and advice. I tried to find their classes but couldn't even find information about their nursing bras - nothing! It was apparently not an organisation that operated in my area.
most people encounter nct via classes,it's their majority activity and business
yes they should be slated if that's how folk feel.also praised if getting it right
but clearly something is amiss,as any nct thread will attest.they need to address perceived shortcomings
I haven't got time to read the whole thread but I found the NCT a godsend. When I had dc1 I went to nhs classes which were very broad, didnt go into much detail....told me mostly what I already knew and overall felt rushed.
I went through hell with ds. tore badly and had very little support afterwards and the recovery period took months which was how I came across mn.
with my second pg I joined the NCT. The teacher was a bit airy fairy but the breathing techniques we were taught were brilliant and she was very nice and unjudgemental. I felt totally out of control with dc1 so being in control of my pain the second time round was magnificent. The other mums in my group all wanted to be "friends" and I didnt fit in to this dynamic. I was most definatly the odd one out which I didnt like. Over time after the babies had been born this became clear and whilst they continue to meet with the babies, I am no longer invited. Thats the only bit of the NCT I dont like.
My teacher went through everything with us including medication and pain relief and made it clear that there was no shame in getting all the drugs you could.... I think her focus was on the mum being in control during the birth and pain relief options were part of that.
Mrs mcEnroe - I didn't say you were lying but there was obviously some misunderstanding somewhere along the line
Men cannot become NCT teachers as they can't get a licence to practise and therefore wouldn't be covered by the NCT's insurance. If this man's wife was a licensed teacher she would have been breaching the terms of her licence if she let someone else run the classes. Licensed NCT teachers are not allowed to tell parents they would not be welcome at classes if they planned to bottle feed as all NCT services have to be open to all parents - its part of their mission statement. I hope you followed up on your complaint as that couple should have nothing to do with the NCT
Scottushmummy I'm not dismissing other people's experiences - there are good, bad and indifferent NCT teachers just as in any other walk of life - what bugs me is when people slate the organisation without ANY personal experience of it themselves (like Kirstie A does). That then feeds into a general negative image which has little to do with the majority of services the NCT provides. Those of you who say - without having gone to classes - that they KNOW the NCT is anti pain relief/CS/ bottle feeding etc please show me evidence from the NCT's publications that supports that view
Yes there are some NCT volunteers who have questionable views about things but they are not representative of the NCT as a whole and as volunteers the NCT has little control over what they say
For those of you complaining that the NCT doesn't offer any services in your area why don't you offer to start something up yourself? The majority of support services other than classes are run by volunteers on a shoestring - and it simply isn't reasonable to ask unpaid mothers with young children to travel miles out of their own area to provide a service - and if they did there'd no doubt be a chorus of complaints about middle class do-gooders foisting themselves on areas where they weren't wanted
The NCT is not perfect by any means and I have major gripes about the way it's currently being run but much of the criticism on this thread is unfounded and unfair
no how dare you say people recalled experience is unfair,or unfounded
you clearly have no objectivity and will defend nct,irrespective of other accounts
that denial and head in sand it denies the accounts given.it doesn't help
My level of discomfort is heightened by the thought that, for those who have attended classes or had contact with NCT representatives which were unsatisfactory for them, that's a terrible shame for them and I can understand their negative feelings. I'm certainly not saying it doesn't or didn't happen. People are people after all and perhaps quality control in teaching was different in the past. I don't know.
But I also feel a level of discomfort in the level of criticism being leveled at this charity. The NCT supports all parents whatever choices they want to make. However, the benefits of physiological birth are clear from the research so these will probably be raised in classes. That doesn't mean that other choices or methods of giving birth are wrong but it does mean that it would be wrong not to discuss how to support physiological birth or to say that it is feasible.
Or, when the NCT classes raise the positive and negative aspects of, for example, pain relief, it is with the intention of supporting individual parents' informed choice, not forcing people into routes that they do not want. Sometimes, seeing the whole picture can by itself be challenging and difficult to accept.
Because no-one can force anyone to make any choice. Why would they want to?
Come along to classes, try it out, set your own agenda, question things, explore some options, reject some and use some others, know your options for labour and birth so that you are prepared with knowledge and some idea of your preferences but also what you might use if labour doesn't progress quite how you expected it to.
Alternatively, don't come if you don't fancy it, that's fine too. Or use the postnatal support groups or the breastfeeding support line or the meets in houses or village halls or Nearly New Sales or friends group or helping with a campaign or being a member for a year or volunteering or none of these.
Plus, whether you use these or not, the charity continues to aim to support parents in all forms with all the aspects of the transition to parenthood. That seems like a force for good, even if I don't need all the aspects of it or agree with every last thing any one representative says on a given occasion.
come along to the classes.would that be the pricey classes?
hardly accessible to a cross section of society.read thread some mums found cost prohibitive
nct needs to regroup, think,think again.fix the broken brand.build on good work done
I've read the whole thread.
Discounts are available link here It is also possible to pay in installments. I did 8 years ago.
There are also shorter and longer course formats which will alter the price.
Plus, no-one is forced to attend! Making a decision to attend or to go along to perhaps an NHS class or both or neither is also part of preparing to become a parent.
I don't think it is a broken brand. I think this recent furore is raising some very mixed and personally-held experiences for people which are all relevant and may well be useful for the charity's management to take into account but they should not be confused with the overall work, historical and current, of the NCT to support all parents.
I loved my nct classes and still catch up with the group.
we started out by choosing topics to cover. the main concern was pain relief with a day on c-section....
although we did a day with a new born dry run, I would have appreciated more post natal info.
There's an article in the Guardian here:
I think first time mums have no real idea as to what labour is like and hope theirs will go well. So they don't want to dwell on forceps or c sections. My hospital mentioned them in passing but we all turned away when the forceps were shown, too scary! I feel no stigma from anyone about my ventouse delivery first time or manual removal of placenta second time. You do what's necessary for mum and baby to be safe. C sections should be the same. They are performed to save lives.
I would agree with KA. I signed up to NCT classes with the intention of meeting other Mums as DH and I didn't know anyone with children at the time. Most of the useful/practical information could be gleaned from books and the internet. While I liked our instructor on a personal level, she did very much toe the party line in terms of using phrases like "having an epidural is likely to lead to a cascade of medical intervention" etc etc. the most ridiculous statement was that "studies have proven the use of pethidine by Mothers in labour will lead to a higher risk of their children becoming heroin addicts" I mean really!! Really!!
I do think that they need to give a more balanced view of the pain relief options available. We are living in the 21st Century - if I want to contact my Mum i will phone her or email her, I don't send a carrier pigeon or send smoke signals - the world has moved on as has medical science and Mothers shouldn't be made to feel they have failed if they have had to undergo a procedure which has resulted in the safe delivery of their baby. Otherwise they and their baby would have died.
I have commented (circa no.200) in the Guardian article posted by VisualiseAHorse (above), and also at the end of Linda Geddes' blog on this whole subject (since it was her radio interview that kicked the whole debate off):
Does the NCT tell women the truth about birth?
Few bits of info:
* classes are not the main way people are in touch with NCT - far from it. This is only part of NCT's work, though of course an important one. But in terms of contacts, breastfeeding counsellors talk to many more women; many more women have postnatal support of various kinds than go to classes;
* NCT does a massive amount of outreach work - in prisons, women's refuges, specific groups (eg teenage mothers), children's centres. It may not always be obviously 'badged' as NCT, but it is NCT personnel facilitating it. NCT is commissioned to run courses/groups by other agencies - no charge to the mothers
* someone complained they 'never heard from NCT' when they were pregnant. NCT is not like your local council, knocking on your door. If you think your area would benefit from having a NCT branch, you can be supported to start one - it's all on the website
* cost is off putting - but classes don't make a profit. They have to cover their costs, that's all. You can get discount if you cannot pay the full fee
I could go on - lots of misinfo on this thread.
no misinfo on thread,things certain folk find hard so.they deny or minimise
is it really 1st time heard,or so intolerable?don't deny someone else lived experience
instead of vociferously denying,read,think about mums lived experience those accounts speak volumes
In my area the NCT was disbanded I think, well the sales stopped. The teacher we had was running loads of classes and working as a midwife (she also had 4 children and personal experience of PND which made her course give all aspects of birth and early motherhood). A lot of people are needed to run it at local level and I for one don't have that time. I agree that organisations need to move with the times and it does need to take on board the poor experience many have had from the classes.
But it doesn't as a whole deserve the slating it receives.
Maybe if the teachers are so out of touch with the mothers at their classes the organisation needs to be informed and those teachers retrained or booted out. But as I said in this area (very middle class and affluent) it struggles to keep going.
My NCT classes (2006, so things may have moved on) were totally focused on natural birth to the exclusion of C-sections. I felt really sorry for the woman in my class whose baby was breach and was advised to have a section because nothing we discussed really related to the birth experience she had. The content wasn't anything I hadn't already read in books. The positive thing about it was both DH and I felt able to ask questions of the medical professionals so that we were happy with what was going on.
Post-natal I was desperate for help BF and found very little support from the NCT. The BF counsellor wasn't available to help (fair enough, it was a weekend and she was a volunteer) but offered no alternatives; when I did get to see her, by which time I was an emotional, guilt-ridden wreck, the only advice she offered was, " Well, people in medieval times managed this". No they didn't, if they had severe problems their babies died or were fed by someone else. Second time round I reached for the NHS and found a wonderful counsellor who sorted us out; I have to admit this was more by luck than judgement as first time experience of NHS counsellor wasn't great either (her clinic was simply swamped so she couldn't really help much).
The Bumps and Babes group was a great meeting point for my NCT group but we would have managed it somewhere else had that not been available. There wasn't much crossover between the various NCT groups attending so no extension of contacts beyond my own group. That's obviously not the NCTs fault, just an observation that the social side isn't anything remarkable.
In short, my experience of the NCT is that they help create the idea that giving birth and BF are easy and that you are a failure if you can't. They may do marvellous work elsewhere and I happily sell stuff through their Nearly New sales, but they could and should be more open to the realities of giving birth and early days with a newborn in the 21st century. And they should definitely stop the failure to give birth naturally/to BF = failure. Support to achieve it, yes. But support those who can't/don't as well.
Half of the women in my class had a section. One planned 3 emergency. We had a meet up after they were all born at the teachers house (not sure if they all do that) and I don't remember anyone being made to feel they 'hadn't done it properly'.
There was a national NCT helpline for breast feeding I called, and a councillor came to one of her classe and we also had her number.
My NCT teacher stressed very strongly that the N does not stand for natural. She clearly explained all the options for pain relief and what might happen in an emergency.
I avoided NCT because I was told that once they get their claws into you they never let go i.e expect you to run second hand clothes sales etc even when your kids are no longer babies. No idea if it's strue, but it warned me off. We had a great NHS ante natal clas in my area, which explanied all possibilities and options and didnt push any particular type of birth. They did their best to promote BF pre birth, but were not involved once the baby was born.
NCT wouldn't run if it wasn't for volunteers, which is why it asks people to do things. TBH I always said no as I was either working FT or my place was too small to host their coffee mornings. It was never a problem.
We prepared for CS by having little Playmobil figures that we had to lay out to resemble who would be in the room for a CS. Different people had different ideas - some underestimated how many would be in the room, others thought the father would have to be outside, and so on. The teacher places the correct numbers of people in the correct way so we understood the scale of it all. We also talked about aftercare, scars, what level of basic nursing to insist on and so on.
scottishmummy - my post in no way denied people's experiences or responses to those experiences. My post was aimed at correcting statements of supposed fact - like yours, which overstated the position of classes in NCT's work when you said that most people in touch with NCT are there via classes.
True that NCT at local level runs on volunteers pitching in and doing stuff - far, far more volunteers than trained workers. Untrue that you are expected to continue volunteering with no possibility of escape - how would that work, eh?
I think it is a very complex issue to debate via an online forum as there are lots of different aspects (csection, breastfeeding, epidural, home birth etc)
So I can say what my perception is and then someone tells me I'm wrong, fine perhaps I am. My opinion fwiw is its strange to have a charity that one of its main and most visible activities is providing expensive classes to middle class women. I also am of the opinion that the NCT is agenda driven and obsessive about pushing natural birth and breastfeeding. Recently for example they appeared to back some paper which was anti epidural.
I think redtoothbrush makes an important point on the first page which perhaps does underpin some of the above.
The thing is that someone can tell me I'm wrong but the opinions I have are shared by many. So there may be something wrong with the NCT or there may be something wrong with how the NCT is seen by some. If the NCT really wants to make things better for all women though either way it is a problem surely?
We went to NCT and found it very helpful. There were a couple of women in our group who wanted caesarians and they weren't excluded or stigmatised. Instead our NCT woman included an hour of what a caesarian involved and what you can do to help yourself after when you're laid up and so on. Can't remember any detail as it didn't apply to me. The NCT woman also spent some time going through water births because that's what I wanted, so she really did try to include everyone.
We were asked to do a couple of sales etc, but we didn't avail ourselves of the offer, and we weren't nagged.
We bumped into her quite often in the shops, and she was lovely, helpful, friendly and interested (might have been putting it on, but she did it very well if so!).
Maybe we were just lucky.
I think sometime it is useful to understand the experience of people that have looked into an organisation and walked away rather than taking on feedback only from the self selecting group that choose to be part of it. I am first time pregnant and thought it would be good for me so I looked into it about 2 months ago.
Firstly the cost is off-putting, because I am working and not on benefits I don't qualify for any discount, but because I am working doesn't mean I have shed loads of cash. Wanting to survive maternity leave means I need to be very careful about where I make spending choices. An antenatal course price of about £50, or about £10 per session I can justify - but the £300 I was quoted is just ridiculous.
I live in what is probably considered a poorer/working class area - there is no local group, and the two nearest are probably a 30-45 min drive away. How many of the people I meet are likely to remain friends and provide that local support after the course I think is negligible. And to answer the person that says set up my own group - I am in no position - I have no experience of motherhood or direct experience of the NCT let alone the organisational skills and time to do this during my first pregnancy because I am looking for support before I can be in a position to then offer other people support.
Its probably the wider reading on sites like mumsnet that makes me feel like the practical reasons above are enhanced by more subjective reasons - how do I know the particular leanings of the course instructor that I would have before I have handed over cash and attended the first session? I would be completely gutted if I could find the £300 for a course to then find the course leader was the type that was only focused on 'natural' and would make me feel like a failure if I end up with a CS or can't breast feed. I am also concerned about the self-selecting nature of the people joining the course - I don't live in a posh area and although I probably am middle class i don't naturally fit in to it, so I am scared that I would be like others that have posted here - would gradually be dropped/ostracized from the groups because I don't fit in. Why pay £300 for a middle class introduction agency when I know that I don't fit that stereotype. I realise that these reasons are subjective and I would probably dismiss them if it wasn't for the specific facts that I can't really afford the cost and there isn't a branch locally.
That said I know I will need support (am new to area and have no friends at all locally other than DP), so I will try to attend a nearly new sale if there is one before birth, put the breastfeeding number into my phone if there are problems and who knows I may find I am brave enough one day to drive to these other areas and go to a bumps and babies morning...
Oops that was a bit of an essay - but wanted to add my view to this already long thread!
I don't know what the 'party line' is, but I went to NCT classes when I was pregnant with both my children (mainly to meet other parents) and I can't remember them promoting 'natural' birth at all. They just explained the various pain relief options available, discussed their own experiences (one of them had had a c-section) and explained what would happen if an unplanned c-section were required. As others had said, I think the focus was on giving mothers information so that they felt in control of the process.
I can only assume that NCT branches vary widely.
Wonder which one Kirstie A went to?
most people contact with nct is classes,and sales.it's their major interface with public
however uncomfortable this is for nct,they have opportunity to act and respond
nct need to regroup fix the brand,maybe regulate and closely monitor classes
Anecdotal I know, but the few people I know who paid for NCT classes did so because they felt that the 'catchment' for the NHS classes was a bit rough and therefore they might not meet 'their kind of people' at them.
So effectively, it seems to me that as well as worrying about nursery catchments, and primary and secondary catchments, people are now worrying about ANTENATAL catchments. God forbid our newborns mix with the working class !!!
As for me, I went to a few NHS classes and found them informative and useful. Unlike some of my friends and family, I didn't feel the need to role play the situations I may be in once the baby was born, in fact the thought of doing so makes me cringe.
There are two aspects to the NCT which we tend to conflate.
One is that as an organisation, they have campaigned for changes to be brought about which have benefitted a lot of women. I don't think this can be praised enough. Gone are the days when we could be drugged up to the eyeballs, shaved, and our babies removed to the nursery. (In this country.)
The second is the classes, which are presumably an extension of the ethos which states that the better informed you are, the better able you are to make choices about YOUR care. However it is not always possible to make choices about your care: perhaps 1.there's a true obstetric emergency or other problem, or 2. the caregiving professional chooses not to make choice available for you.
I think that they try to navigate you through the process where 2 is actually pretty bloody likely, 1 is unlikely but you need to know, and where anyway there is a huge amount about birth, the NHS system, feeding and feeding support etc to take in. It's a nightmare to present and they TRY to make you aware without scaring you.
Unfortunately many of the teachers cannot give the required balance, and as some have said, many of the attendees cannot accept it anyway.
Far worse is the obvious, and I guess completely intentional, (upper) middle-class bias to the whole thing. I suspect strongly that there's an agenda to revolutionise things for those who have the loudest voices, in order that the lower orders will listen. I think it's wholly badly done and misguided and divisive. SO many people are having negative NCT experiences that it's not working, and nobody really wants to listen to those who have good experiences with the NCT, because they're seen as members of a particular group of society which has little in common with most women.
That they persist in not listening to criticism, and properly opening up an improved service for people at all levels of income, means they are sadly becoming more irrelevant - a shame when you consider the honesty of their initial campaigns.
I think it is down to the individual course leader. Ours was of the view that the NHS would try and pin you down to the bed and take drugs unless you went in there all guns blazing demanding to be left alone. It was nothing like that - hosp encouraged walking around, squatting, all fours, everything. I am not sure when the nct leader had last had a baby but her adamence that the NHS make you lie in your back and won't let you move around was very misguided and just made us all very worried. We all went into hospital expecting to have to do battle to get what we needed. She couldn't have been more wrong. She also said that anything worth having us worth oing through pain for. I.e if you have a c section you have somehow failed. Again, very unhelpful and upsetting for the lady in m group who had to have a c section due to a medical condition. The nct leader even suggested ways we could try and make it feel more like a 'proper birth'. Having gob through labour, you take what comes as far as I see it - no such thing as normal or proper!
A huge part of the problem is the individual course leaders, but I think a more pernicious and unpleasant side to the NCT is that they deliberately price themselves so as to be easily available only to the upper-middle classes, whilst pretending to be there to help and represent all women.
Tiktok you gave some examples of outreach work that is done by NCT people whilst not wearing their NCT hat. Why are they not representing themselves as part of the NCT whilst (for example) working in prisons? Is it because the brand has become toxic, is it because their work is not formally supported by the NCT, or is there some other political reason?
'I avoided NCT because I was told that once they get their claws into you they never let go i.e expect you to run second hand clothes sales etc even when your kids are no longer babies.'
This was not the case at all in my experience - although it was more than a decade ago. They were always requesting volunteers in their newsletter but I only helped at one sale and held two coffee mornings over a period of several months, purely because a friend of mine organised the tea lists in our area.
When my second child was a toddler I wanted to get more involved as a
posh friend was training to be an ante-natal teacher and this inspired me. They were always asking people to come forward as teachers and bf counsellors, and I phoned a woman called Pam to volunteer my services.
Her exact words were 'what makes you think you can be a bf counsellor?'
I garbled something about being grateful for the help I'd received, having fed two babies into toddlerhood after having a difficult start - but none of it washed.
She basically counselled me out there and then, I can only assume because she thought my non-U accent meant I had no education/intelligence/professional experience - whatever.
I did have fantastic advice and support on the few occasions I called the bf counsellors - but I darn well wasn't welcome to join them!
I've never been pregnant, but my friends have. They've all had bad experiences with the NCT. It's usually been about how terrible epidurals are, how "fulfilling" and "empowering" natural birth is and how a c section must be avoided at all costs.
There is very little support for women who want c sections and women who prefer epidurals and a more medicalised approach to childbirth.
If OTOH, you're wanting a VBAC, or an all-natural birth, then the NCT is very helpful.
The issue is that I'm sure everyone would
Love a natural birth with candles, lavender oil and whale music but you just don't know what will happen. Of you're lucky, it may happen for you that way but sometimes there are just complications. Their mistake is in making out that you can somehow choose a natural birth - a lot f the time choice is taken away, eg induction or forceps needed, baby experiencing problems etc.
Stephanie, the outreach work is not done with people not wearing an NCT hat - that's not what I said. They do it and are commissioned to do it, very much as NCT workers, and will introduce themselves as such. But the course, support group, drop in, whatever it is, may not necessarily be an 'NCT class' or 'NCT group' because it has been commissioned and paid for by whichever agency/organisation/centre . For example, I used to run a breastfeeding support group with a health visitor. The group was called [name of clinic] breastfeeding support group. It was in an area where very few women breastfeed. I don't think many of them had heard of NCT, anyway.
The brand is not toxic at all! Most people have barely heard of NCT classes.
scottishmummy, I can assure you that you are incorrect in repeatedly stating that 'most people's contact with nct is classes, and sales'. Classes (and sales) reach far fewer parents than other work done by NCT.
nct does campaign and do activities but it's brand,its contact with most people is classes,sale
this thread and allsopp attest how people feel about nct.something is significantly amiss
nct supporters should be thinking what can nct do to fix the brand,not denying the problem or saying hey but we do outreach
nct brand is tarnished it has negative connotation and mums report some awful classes
I agree it's getting toxic if it doesn't get a grip on itself,reconfigure to address it's image
nct is a mc introduction agency that's lost it's way.needs ideological and qualitative overhaul
I had similar experience to many with NCT what with my emcs and formula feeding due to no milk let down, was led to believe that the leader I spoke to that NCT wouldn't be for me. However, this isn't limited to the NCT. With my first baby, the midwife held a class on her own time to cover bottle feeding because the RC of M wouldn't allow teaching of anything to do with formula feeding. After my emcs she asked me to come and talk to her current class of mums to be about my experience. With my second, I was constantly obstructed and blocked from seeing my consultant whilst my new midwife and the registrar tried to force me to have a trial of labour. Thank god I knew my rights and literally stalked the consultant who read my previous notes and declared that I was extremely unlikely to be able to give birth naturally. I was not asked to speak to the next class about my experience. I'm struggling to think of any other area of health care where information is deliberately with held. I'm tired of pregnant women being treated like children, patted on the head if we make the 'right' decision and ostracised if we make the 'wrong' decision. We bandy about terms like freedom to choose and birth plans but we don't have freedom to choose. We're allowed to choose how we give birth as long as we choose the method the RCM, the hospitals, the government and the NCT want us to choose. Yes my emcs was scary but my elcs was fabulous. I did what I was supposed to do which was bring two children safely into the world. We are grown, intelligent women. Gives us the facts and let us make our decisions! Rant over! Sorry.
I'm not pregnant yet but now I know I will avoid NCT classes when the time comes!!
Then.. advising about having a natural birth over 40 is absurd.
I think these NCT people should address mothers-to-be needs (of any age) and not only their beliefs!!
Natural birth and breast-feeding might be useful but first these people should care about mums delivering babies safely, on both sides. My mum had two natural births and she nearly died of complications. She regretted she didn't take the chance of a C-section when the doctors offered.
My bro was born traumatized by the difficult natural birth and despite he was breast-fed, it didn't avoid him to get anything... he even developed a form of schizophrenic disorder in his early 30ies.
It seems a whole load of cr@p IMHO.
I do find it very sad people have had such negative experiences with NCT regarding how they give birth, we discussed different scenarios, feeding methods, and were given all options. Nothing was a 'banned' subject.
But people will always discuss and pass on a bad experience story more than a good one IMO.
This thread is making me feel lucky, and want to send my old teacher an email to say
Why can't an over 40 woman have a vaginal birth?
I'm doing exactly what boocanary said and happy to admit it.
My midwife advised they only do nhs classes during the day in my area as the majority of mums that would be in my group are under the age of 20 and don't work. I have no problem with this but I wanted to meet similar people to me. Maybe I am being a snob but I also wanted my DH to come with me. It's got nothing to do with wanting to mix with working class though as suggested. I am new to this area and I would like to make some friends. Nct classes were also highly recommended to me by a friend who like me moved away to a new area while pregnant.
There has been some comments that nct classes are only available to those that can afford them and frankly that's rubbish. They offer huge discounts to those on a lower salary or some benefits etc. if they didn't then of course there would be a clear divide. Each to their own, I can't believe this thread is still going
hmm seems a lot of people who relate negative experiences had them quite a long time ago.
It seems the NCT has already improved substantially and moved forward. What it can do about stuck in the muds constantly banging on about bad experiences they had in the previous decades is less clear.
Although obviously they still need to keep on top of any rouge teachers not towing the new improved party line...
nct indeed have significantly good past deeds.their here & now is the problem
they need to regroup,ensure quality and good practice lose the preachy mc image
with good leadership,and an acknowledgement something gone wrong they can change for better
I just can't believe that all those people who have been so dissatisfied with the NCT have been part of the same organisation that I spent several years involved with in numerous ways.
I've been an active member of 2 very different branches of the NCT and NEVER found anyone who exhibits some of the nastier traits described here (and elsewhere whenever the NCT is slagged off). There have been very mixed membership in both branches - not all middle class by any means - and have definitely accepted people regardless of birth and feeding options.
What an odd comment MerlinScott - why would it be absurd to advise about having a vaginal birth over 40? It is perfectly possible to plan for, and therefore seek advise about, a vaginal birth at that age.
Last summer I attended an excellent antenatal class with my husband through NCT. We covered all options and interventions including induction, c sections epidural etc. We also covered bottle feeding including sterilisation etc. There was a seperate half day to cover breast feeding. I was particularly impressed with the emphasis our trainer placed on our partners taking a role in our children's births - being our advocates and support.
I went on to have an elective section c-section and have despite my intention to breast feed ended up bottle feeding my child. My course leader met with all of us post birth to hear our birth stories and was the opposite of judgemental. Nor have any of the mums I met ever been less than supportive.
I also attended a free postnatal 10 week drop in session funded by NCT which has been invaluable.
My antenatal trainer I think gave me one of the best pieces of advice about child birth. So much emphasis is placed on child birth, how and where it happens but it's actually such a tiny part part of parenting - the whole thing is rarely lasts more than 48 hrs.
All anyone wants is a healthy child and if you have a cascade of interventions to ensure that so be it.
Our NCT classes were brilliant, all aspects were covered from c sections to home births. Interestingly and similar to other comments the women that came in to do the bf lesson and the how will u feel afterwards lesson both left us all feeling terrible. We originally attended our local NHS class, but that was 2 x 1 hour long lectures and that was it, so NCT was the only option if we actually wanted any information that would be of use.
I'm now due with my second after ending up with an emcs with my first and the NHS are the ones pushing me to a natural birth far more than NCT did first time round.
My NCT leader was Caroline Flint, who if you google her is an especially prominent midwife very much in the natural birth movement (so you'd have thought 'typical' nct) and I thought she was really honest and good, covering difficult subjects like stillbirth sensitively and also covering c-section in a sensible, informative way - I would never post her name if I thought otherwise.
It is a difficult balance to strike to be fair to the NCT, because stats do suggest that some unnecessary c-sections are performed and the NCT does have a campaigning remit for less medicalised birth. I say this as someone who landed up with an EMCS but was OK with it - I think we should all try to have the defiance to look at our birth outcomes producing a baby and only temporarily battered mummy and think sod what anyone thinks!
The only thing I felt sad about with the NCT was the fact that at the end of the day, it is the well-to-do Mums with access to support who get so much info, whereas so many poorer Mums who need support more get so much less. I do think it is unfortunate that the NCT hasn't reached a wider range of parents.
what is there to not believe about other people experience of nct?may not be your experience but still it's a lived account
perhaps instead of the disbelief,have a think why nct threads habitually generate same themes.
why ka has swathe of people agreeing with her here and online
nct does great work has campaigned and influenced attitude and policy to birth.that's really fantastic. unfortunately though, something has also systemically gone wrong,so many also report a poor experience of nct. that's what nct need to think about and address, it's image, and ensuring good consistent information is disseminated
scottishmummy, when people say 'I can't believe...' they may mean "what I am reading is very far away from my own experience". It does not have to mean "people are not telling the truth".
t also comes across bitty patrionising and don't diss the beloved nct
I appreciate we've all had differing experiences
nct is a fine organization in need of over haul,and significant quality assurance and delivery
Yes Caroline Flint was a laugh! My main problem with the NCT was the fetishization of the process, the pursuit of the perfect birth as implicit guarantee of the perfect baby/child/family life/domestic future forever more. Very implicit guarantee, of course, never explicit, but there nonetheless, in all that honing in on labour at the expense of the weeks, months, years thereafter. I know I'm not the first poster to mention this, but first-time parenthood is such a life-apocalypse that to focus excessively on those few hours seems in retrospect like a wilfully-cynical evasion.
That said, what else can antenatal classes do, since everyone starts and ends their transformation into parent at a different place - if the transformation does ever end (I'm still waiting)? Their main value is probably social, as C. Flint, to her credit, admitted at the time.
Which brings me to my other common gripe about the NCT. Suffice it to say that our group's 9 mums were not the 9 most-local due to give birth that month, but the 9 poshest over a fairly large, very densely populated area, which was, consciously or not, for many of us the whole point (how else can I find the other new-mums "just like me"?)
An area, incidentally, quite well-supplied with outstanding-rated though, erm, challengingly populated state primary schools. Several years later, of the 9 babies born, 6 are being privately-educated, and one has moved to a "better" area (this mum at least charmingly frank about "too many black kids." Managing to avoid glancing at mine in the process.)
That leaves two of us at state primaries; too bad the other mum is based the other side of the borough. I stopped attending meetings when the which-school? discussions started. They made me feel physically sick.
My group did discuss schools but to my knowledge we are the only family not using the state system (doesn't make me posh, just didn't want the failing state school we were allocated when didn't get our catchment one...). But at less that one year old I do admit it's a bit early!
I'm an NCT teacher and I want to make a couple of observations.
Every parent who does a course with the NCT is asked to fill out an evaluation form which is anonymous. The teacher sees these evaluation forms as does the NCT. I also ask parents to feed back directly to me immediately after the classes. I have a link to survey monkey and they can feed back without leaving names. What I've found is that parents regularly comment that they came along to their NCT classes thinking they were going to be all 'whale sounds and touchy feely, natural birth propaganda' (or words to that effect - you'd be amazed how often references to whale noises crops up!) and were pleasantly surprised to find that my classes are nothing of the sort. I'd say 8 out of 10 forms that come back to me specifically comment about how 'balanced' the information was.
The point I'd want to make is that it's clear to me that some parents have very rigid preconceptions about what the NCT is about BEFORE they attend the sessions, and come to the courses already feeling defensive, and sometimes positively antagonistic to the whole idea of 'natural birth'. I do sometimes wonder how this, along with the very intense anxiety some of them are feeling, and then the difficult birth and breastfeeding experiences they sometimes have, contributes to their perception and memories of what actually happened and what was actually said and meant in the sessions.
I think this every time I go to a reunion. I always ask parents to tell me, on the basis of their experience of birth and early parenting, what they think I should pass on to new parents. I can't tell you how many times someone will say 'You really need to talk about perineal tears/colic/infections after c-section, etc,' and I think 'I DID! We talked about it for half an hour. We did an exercise on it. I gave you a hand-out and then emailed you a link to a discussion of the topic on mumsnet, and a number for a helpline if you need to discuss it with someone!'. And it's just gone - they have NO memory of it at all. They look at me a bit reproachfully, but I never say 'actually we did talk about it, but maybe you didn't want to hear what I was saying'. In other words, when I hear stories about teachers not covering X, Y and Z, or implying that pain relief is 'bad', or that all interventions are unnecessary I don't immediately assume that these are an accurate report of what happened or what was said in class. I know this from the comments I hear at reunions from people who've attended my classes which cover EVERYTHING (to the point that I regularly get feedback from people saying that the classes have made them feel more anxious because they touched on issues that they'd never given much thought to before - like the possibility of significant postnatal ill health, stillbirth, emergency c/s under general anaesthetic, severe perineal damage etc).
I feel like the NCT can't do right for doing wrong, and a lot of the time is being scapegoated for the failings of the NHS. How do you help people prepare for giving birth in a system where a good proportion of them will have substandard care which is going to result in them having unnecessarily complicated births and difficult recoveries, without sounding like you're scare-mongering or attacking health professionals?
And it's going to get worse - I'm hearing so many negative stories at the moment about really poor postnatal care that's resulting in horrendous breastfeeding problems and early cessation of breastfeeding. It's a very weird experience to listen to woman tell you about a catalogue of failings in their care, and then have them turn around and tell you that the main thing they've taken away from it all isn't that they ought to have been listened to, given more help, been treated more kindly, but that we should make it clear to NCT clients that it doesn't matter if they 'fail' with breastfeeding. And I'm thinking (and not saying) 'But it DOES matter if someone's buggered up your experience of breastfeeding by not doing their job properly!' So I just nod and tell them they're doing an amazing job (they are!) and say sorry things were so difficult for them (because I am sorry, really sorry). And go home and feel cross.
But I suspect for some mums the memories they take away from NCT are not those of me urging them to get help early on if things aren't working well, or telling them about the importance of enjoying their baby and only doing what they feel they can happily cope with, or me talking about the importance of bottle feeding being a lovely experience for them and their baby (and giving them ideas about how to make it as satisfying as possible), but the general enthusiasm for breastfeeding, the discussion of how babies may try to latch on after birth, the discussion of oxytocin and biological nurturing positions, all of which talk which might make them feel sad, angry and guilty when recalled months later, after a horrible experience of breastfeeding.
"in all that honing in on labour at the expense of the weeks, months, years thereafter"
I mainly teach 12 hour courses. I say to parents before they do their agenda setting out what we need to cover that ideally we should spend 11 hours talking about postnatal life, and just an hour to cover birth. At the reunion they always say they wished they'd done more postnatal stuff. But then their agendas are predominantly about the birth. What should I do? Ignore what they've asked for and just do it my way? As it is I split the course 50/50 between birth and postnatal and I'm very conscious that it's not a great balance. But it's what they ASK FOR.
"The only thing I felt sad about with the NCT was the fact that at the end of the day, it is the well-to-do Mums with access to support who get so much info, whereas so many poorer Mums who need support more get so much less"
This is very true. The people who traditionally attend antenatal classes are the people who don't need to be there! It's true of NHS classes too. I think the government needs to think of a way of getting good antenatal education (education which is focused on what to expect in postnatal life, how babies develop and where to get support) to those people who would benefit most from it.
"An antenatal course price of about £50, or about £10 per session I can justify - but the £300 I was quoted is just ridiculous."
A 14 hour NCT course (including breastfeeding class) for 2 people works out at £216. That's £108 per person. Which makes it quite a lot cheaper than many of the courses on offer at the Mumsnet Academy!
And all the 'profits' from the classes go towards supporting other NCT activities which benefit all new parents - training breastfeeding counsellors and peer supporters, running the help lines, the campaigns for better maternity care, research into pregnancy, birth and early parenting etc.
The Relax, Stretch and Breathe NCT classes are about £10 per session I believe. I think you can pay it on a drop-in basis.
fabsmum I think your post is absolutely bang on. People do remember things based on their expectations more than their actual experience sometimes. I for one didn't even know that NCT was considered lentil weavy and as such didn't notice any in the classes. It wasn't till I got on MN months later that I was confronted with the concept....
Don;t think there is a position by NCT against c-sections I have had two - one emergency, second one planned - and have felt supported in both.
I think there is evidence that Ms K A is adept at self-publicity and setting up positions to have a pop at is one classic method of that as she has done so on a number of topics across different media. But then she is a media professional so should we be surprised. Suggest judge topic on its merits rather than on such hype.
ok,you keep fingers in ears go lalala.dd bad kirsty say something unpleasant
take ka out picture if you wish,what about other accounts?are they media hungry too?
every time there's a nct thread same themes,stop ignoring abs denying. nct needs to change. with good leadership and vision it can, first step IMO is acknowledge perceived failings and move on
marytuda and scottishmummy both made good points that I agree with. When my best friend couldn't understand why I didn't want to join the class she had been attending, it was for the reasons you made. If I hadn't heard all the stuff that her NCT teacher had said e.g. 'well she did have pethidine and a c-sec could have been avoided if she had persevered' , I may have gone. What I would have wanted is informative, balanced classes with properly covered aspects of
alltypes of birth (not a flipping leaflet) and breastfeeding and natural birth not being (no pun intended) pushed at you, but just discussed in a sensible way. Also, a more mixed bunch of mothers would be preferable. marytuda those mums sounded annoying and are exactly the type that were in my friend's class. She is still friends with them, but it all sounds so bloody competitive!
meant to say *all types of birth
scottishmummy - the picture painted by these stories of the NCT as an organisation which condemns c/s and those women who have one, is fascistic about breastfeeding, and unresponsive to the needs of modern parents is simply not reflected by anything you will find on their website, in their organisation at a national level, or in the information they disseminate through head office. Therefore it is unfair to keep insisting that it is the NCT as a whole which is at fault.
Of course there are individual teachers who are poor. But if those teachers are regularly not meeting the information and support needs of the parents attending their courses then they would not be defended by the NCT (actually formal complaints are dealt with very seriously). The NCT provides an opportunity for all parents to feed back their opinions of their course and the bottom line is that the VAST majority of people (9 out of 10) who do classes love them and find them useful and don't have an issue with what's taught! What more do you want the NCT to do?
And as a teacher I know for a fact that people DON'T take away an accurate memory of what was said and done in class, which is why I take some accounts of NCT classes which I read on mumsnet with a massive pinch of salt.
I also think the NCT is being partially scape goated for the failings of the NHS. They are taking a beating for being the most visible advocate of normal birth in a system of maternity care where women are experiencing a rising tide of avoidable interventions, the growth of which EVERYONE involved in the care of mothers and babies acknowledges as a problem that needs to be addressed.
Fabsmum your post about people not remembering what was covered in classes is interesting.
Let's assume that out of a hundred critical accounts of NCT teachers' products, a fair percentage of those complaints are down to customer bias against the teacher after having had a difficult time at birth - call it wilful blindness ("I did not listen to comprehensive advice about positioning and was unable to persuade the midwife that I wanted to be upright, ergo I was not advised enough in the class I paid for and did not get value for money").
Can you not see that this is still a problem which needs to be addressed? It is NOT going to go away just because you are a conscientious passer-on of information. The problem does not solely lie with the customer here. There is something fundamentally wrong with the approach to teaching if this is happening as often as is clearly is. Teaching isn't just telling people stuff and hoping they remember it!
This is why the whole NCT teaching system (and choice of teachers) needs an overhaul, or else just bloody admit that it's a fundraising introduction service for MC people to meet other MC people so they can network. (NCT representatives, you do realise this is how you are seen by the chattering classes themselves? Someone said to me the other day 'God, yeah, it was a bit of a waste of time, but we met this architect who's going to do our extension...'!!!)
Stephanie - if you look in journals dedicated to antenatal education (which are produced by people not involved with the NCT but intended for all antenatal educators, the majority of whom are midwives), you'll see that this issue (what parents take from antenatal classes and how they use it in birth and afterwards) is seen as a central issue.
But fwiw, why should the entire system need an overhaul if 9 out of 10 people who do the classes think they're good?
I didn't think what Kirtie said would even be controversial TBH. Ours did discuss C-sections- but only becasue we had twin pregnancies where the parents had already been told they were likely to end up with a section- but the instructor didn't come accross as keen to talk about this. Intervention was bad- pain relief was discussed but the downsides emphasized- as much time was spent on homeotherapy as the other methods. But the worst aspect was the breastfeeding sessions which were dogmatic and useless- there is no such thing as inability to breast feed - anyone who says they can't is wrong- any problems with b/feeding are caused by the mother doing it wrong. No discussion at all of why people stop, no discussion of alternatives. And the counsellor was actually apalling in actually helping when i was having problems b/feeding ( advice - try a different position -goodbye)
That said - I didn't go into NCT expecting unbiased views so I wasn't disappointed and i got a lot out of it in other ways
I didn't do NCT classes as I didn't know that most people sign up at the moment of conception! I rang up after my anomaly scan so about 22 weeks and was told all the classes were full.
The cost would have been a big stretch for us and only possible because of the old HiP grant. I'm really glad we didnt bother and spent it on a nice pushchair instead!
I agree that NCT is very very middle class and exclusive. The cost is prohibitive and in my city the classes are only in very mc suburbs right on the outskirts. Not much use for inner city dwellers with no car...there weren't any NHS antenatal classes, only a tour of delivery suite, didn't go as planned a hb.
Oh and I know loads of people (myself included) who have had emergency cs but the two I know who had big guilt issues both did NCT...one friend freely admits until her birth she believed I just hadn't really tried hard enough because of what she was told by her NCT teacher
a lot of the time is being scapegoated for the failings of the NHS
AHA! NOW we come to the nub! And in this we come up against the socialist state religion, the cult of the glorious untouchable NHS.
Because let's face it kids: in a socialist centrally provided healthcare system where the client doesn't pay (and so like the comprehensive education system has no say), WHAT IS THE CHEAPEST BIRTH OPTION?
It is convenient for the NHS to politicise midwives and give them too much say over obstetricians relative to training. It is convenient to have
a propaganda wing the NCT pushing for that cheapest option. Who cares about the needs of the client?
[this does not mean that the NHS has bad intentions, not at all - but this is the known failing of socialist systems, the disconnect between the centralised service provider and the end user. People respond to who pays them. It is human nature]
I certainly agree that it is ridiculous to point the finger at the NCT when they are essentially filling a role that the NHS should have covered in the first place. NCT should be an option on top of decent antenatal coverage by the NHS.
Where I am I could have 1 hour class on the NHS plus a tour of the maternity ward.
The issue of 'how do we teach so people remember?' is a massive one, for educators at every level from school upwards. By the time you get to a type of adult education which includes experiences, feelings, relationships (and not just facts) it's even more of a challenge.
In NCT's case you are also reaching people at a hugely important stage of their lives and one which has a fair amount of baggage. This makes the chance you can teach something and find out later that some of the people there really, really don't recall it, even higher.
I have had the experience myself (as a bfc) where I hear I did not tell people that breastfeeding can sometimes be really difficult, or that babies feed often, or that it can hurt. I now try to emphasise - by having the same information come out in various ways throughout the 2 or 2.5 hrs I have with them - info I know will be important. Many (most? actually prob all) bfcs do the same thing. I still get calls from women who are surprised when things are difficult for them, so I clearly haven't got it right.
Several years ago, NCT made it compulsory for people who want to train other NCT teachers, breastfeeding counsellors and postnatal leaders (in NCT parlance these trainers are known as tutors) to have a BEd - an additional BEd if they already had one - in antenatal education. Over the years, this has led to better training, and continued reflection on what we offer parents. Our parents satisfaction levels are high (93 per cent say 'excellent' or 'good' throughout all services, a/n, bf, p/n; 6 per cent is 'fair', 1 per cent is 'poor') . NCT is positively obsessive (in a good way) about getting feedback, and very thorough when it comes to complaints.
It's significant that some of the bad experiences listed here come from some time ago. The recent ones may well be from the 1 per cent who feedback they had a negative experience - probably a lot more than 1 per cent have a bad experience as no organisation could ever manage a 99 per cent satisfaction rate, and some people will walk out of a course and never give feedback, or have such a bad time they can't bring themselves to make a complaint.
None of this signifies a need for a systemic overhaul - if we did that, we'd risk alienating the 93 per cent who do like us It does indicate a need for continued listening, responding and changing where needed - and a continued searching for the answer to the question of how we ensure people remember 'stuff', 'cos I don't know that
"but the instructor didn't come accross as keen to talk about this. Intervention was bad- pain relief was discussed but the downsides emphasized- as much time was spent on homeotherapy as the other methods"
Were the parents given information which was inaccurate? Had they asked to cover c-section and interventions when they set the agenda at the beginning? If not, did the parents give this as feed back to the NCT or complain formally?
As for the downsides of pain relief being emphasised - I consider it really important that parents leave my classes knowing a) what percentage of women find the pain relief they get effective b) the possible side effects and sensations they might experience with the pain relief they choose. I base the information I hand out in class on the patient information given out by the Society of Obstetric Anaesthetists, and link people to their website. Many women come along to the class with the view that all pain relief works for pretty much all women, and are sometimes a bit surprised and worried to find out, for example, that a large minority of women get poor relief of pain with pethidine, and that 1 in 8 women will not get effective pain relief with an epidural. Most women are aware that epidurals are associated with higher rates of assisted birth for first time mum (they assume that there is a simple cause and effect relationship here, and I discuss how this is not necessarily the case). But they are not generally aware of other aspects of epidurals - the link with higher rates of c/s for fetal distress (not higher rates of c/s over all, but higher rates of c/s for fetal distress), or of some women running temperatures with an epidural and the implications of this. I'd feel it was an absolute betrayal of my clients not to set out the important facts about pain relief, because in almost every class I'll have someone who will tell me afterwards that even though they got pethidine/epidural, it didn't work out well for them or they had really unpleasant side effects. That does mean that some people will leave my sessions thinking I've been negative about pain relief - even though I make it clear that loads of women have amazing, fulfilling epidural births, and that many women LOVE pethidine and find it very helpful, and that the most important thing is to ask the midwife for what they need and want at the time in response to how they feel in labour, not go in with rigid preconceptions about what they 'ought' to do.
I also come back to this issue of what women think they hear in classes, as opposed to what was said.
I've had several clients say 'I wish I'd known how incredibly painful labour is'. And I think - other than saying 'Some women find labour more painful than they can bear and some may even be traumatised by the experience of it - thank goodness for the existence of epidurals for situations like this', and 'most women are hugely satisfied with their epidurals' (the exact words I use) what more can I add! And yet women who've heard me say this absolutely clearly, who've been encouraged to read threads on this site about women's experiences of epidurals in labour (I link them to the threads on the childbirth board which have hundreds of comments eulogising epidurals as fantastic) will STILL say at the reunion that they found labour more painful than they anticipated and they wish they'd known how great epidurals are!
Other than doing what a midwife at our local hospital does when it's her turn to deliver the antenatal classes, which is to sit and slowly shake her head at the semi-circle of parents and say 'It's going to hurt you know. It's going to really, really hurt' - what more can I do?
I can see from my own experience that there is something very strange happening - that women's subsequent experiences of birth and breastfeeding hugely impact on their memory of how they prepared for the birth and their feelings about the approach of labour. I'm not denying that there is poor teaching within the NCT at times, but I think there is far more to this than meets the eye.
Ha - I am a university lecturer and can confirm that students apparently knowing less after a 4 year degree than before they started is not that unusual.
Teaching is hard!
Is it a typo for homeopathy or hypnotherapy?
Yep I agree that there is some shooting the messenger going on here - childbirth can be devastatingly upsetting, and people who are accustomed to being in control and being successful (the NCT demographic, basically) can be very angry about things not going to plan, feeling a failure after not being a "model child-birther" as they were model students, model brides, etc.
However, while I am in some ways a total lentil-knitter and do support the principle that IF women can give birth as naturally as possible it will PROBABLY be a good thing for them in terms of recovery etc, I was upset after the birth of my dc1 (at home) when my NCT teacher was apparently very upset that I had had to have my 3rd degree tear stiched under spinal anaesthetic in hospital. I was on cloud 9. I enjoyed the birth, my baby fed and slept well from the start, the tear healed well (having been dealt with properly in hospital), and I thought it was a fab outcome from something I had been terrified of. I didn't want to hear "What a pity you had to go to hospital" (head on side) again and again!
I suppose what I am saying is that it seemed she wasn't quite sure that it was really necessary - almost as if she was wondering whether the midwives had overreacted in packing me off to hospital. And as if that part of it marred what would otherwise have been a "perfect" home birth. Bloody glad they did, of course.
I just wish that anyone - NCT or otherwise - who promotes a hierarchy of births, knowingly or otherwise, would bloody well stop it. We live in a crazy competitive world where everything can be judged, especially anything pertaining to women. In my opinion, every mother is a hero, whether by VB, CS, or adopting. Or anything else I can't think of. And whether or not they admit to it, NCT people do often promote a hierarchy of birth with implicit successes and failures.
"I didn't want to hear "What a pity you had to go to hospital" (head on side) again and again!"
How many times did you discuss it with her? (mind boggles)
"NCT people do often promote a hierarchy of birth with implicit successes and failures."
So are we supposed to say that health professionals caring for mothers in labour shouldn't be trying to get both mum and baby through in as good condition (mentally and physically) as possible? Or all births are equally successful in medical terms? I think all mothers do the very best they can in labour - it's awesome what a mother will do to get her baby safely delivered. Every week I sit and cry through OBEM at how what the women go through.
But some births are not managed in a way which is going to get an optimal result in medical terms - and an optimal result is a mum and baby in the best possible condition mentally and physically, given their individual circumstances in labour. I think many women see how hard midwives and doctors work, and how well meaning they are, and are very loyal to the care they had in hospital. It's hard to accept that well meaning, kind and hard working people might not have looked after you in a way which optimised your chance of having a straight forward birth. And there's a sense of fatalism about it - what will be will be, and thank goodness I've got a healthy baby. I'm not sure if most parents are aware of the regional disparities in outcomes for birth (such as likelihood of getting timely pain relief, rates of infections, rates of emergency surgery etc) between different hospitals and systems of care. I suspect they think that outcomes for birth are pretty much of a muchness across the board. And I'm afraid they're not always. For me looking in from outside the thought that might be going through my head when hearing mothers' stories of difficult births and breastfeeding, is 'you might not have ended up with that horrible tear/infection/emergency surgery/unable to breastfeed, if you'd been looked after better or differently'. And that's difficult to have to deal with week after week after week.
In other words, if they're anything like me, most NCT teachers aren't thinking that a mother could have done anything other than what she did in labour, but that the care she had might have been better and might have resulted in less damage and trauma. And the mother picks up on the NCT teachers feelings perhaps, and feels judged. But it's not her that's being judged!
Is it a typo for homeopathy or hypnotherapy?"
Sounds exciting! <wonders if there could be any money in it >
we had a great class, met people we really liked, good teacher who prepared us for pretty much all eventualities, including a c-section (I had an EMCS in the end and though I was pretty out of it by that time, DH was grateful for what we'd covered in the class).
The classes are expensive. However, we got ours at a hefty discount because we are low earners. I was stressed before we went to the classes, thinking I'd be totally out of place, the working-class scum of the group etc - wasn't like that at all. I think it's really important to emphasise that they really do help if you can't afford the classes, so if cost is a genuine barrier - ie, you don't actually earn enough to pay for it - then you can get help (and there was absolutely no stigma or anything about it, it was discreet and easy and the class teacher does not know you have paid less).
I did the postnatal early days class and did not like that very much - it was in a slightly different area and I think it goes to show what a lottery it is.
However I've been volunteering for the NCT since then and I bloody hate it. I've just given up my membership. Horrible, insular attitude. I've found it quite upsetting because they were bloody brilliant to us and for us.
Got to head off but wanted to leave the thread with this: all NCT teachers are self-employed, so if the NCT receives complaints about the quality of teaching (and verifies these complaints), there is no difficulty in them deciding not to offer her any more work, if retraining and support is not an option or is not acceptable to the teacher or the NCT. It is not like the NHS where it's actually quite expensive and difficult to get rid of ineffectual staff.
I urge all parents who've had a bad experience of classes - TELL the NCT Head Office what happened!
Also want to add - that the cost of NCT classes (at least in London) hour for hour, is no more expensive than the majority of group courses run privately by midwives.
Unsubsidised small group learning IS expensive in the UK when it's taught by qualified teachers - whatever the subject!
Fabsmum thanks for your honesty and feedback. I've been reading this thread while wondering whether or not to book NCT classes (I'm now 19 weeks with first baby). I was on the fence as the experiences here seem to differ so much. However, I understand your points about people not necessarily wanting to hear or remembering what's covered in class.
I think I'll go for it.
I wouldn't have been able to continue to breastfeed without the NCT.
I was told in my NCT classes that the baby will want to feed after about 30mins, and feeding as soon as possible after the birth is good. When I tried after being induced and it hurt the auxiliary told me to try on the ward, that was 4 hrs after my hungry boy had been born. I tried in the dark in the middle of the night with no help, because I didn't want to disturb the other mothers. Their suggestion was to take him to the nursery. When I asked to be taken to the toilet because my epidural was so strong I had numb legs, I was just shown it, and I was concerned where to walk in the corridor if I collapsed was down the centre best...
In the morning after no sleep I had love bites all over my breast where my precious newborn was missing.
I was very fortunate not to have to go to hospital with DS2 but only because he came so quickly. He fed within half an hr of birth and I kept asking my midwife for help in the days after.
This was 7 years ago, I will never forget, but I admit I only remember some bits from my NCT classes. But those bits helped me immensely.
They did do what the NHS could not because it is very stretched in our area.
Interesting, from a midwife.
Sheena Byrom blog link
"NCT people do often promote a hierarchy of birth with implicit successes and failures."
This is quite a scaring and sort of putting-off statement in my opinion. Reading this thread made me highly depressed and I might accept my DH advice, i.e. going for an adoption straightaway.
Maybe it's because I'm still 'before' that part but reading that such a hierarchy even exists makes me give up the idea of having a baby
If in medical terms it is probably correct to see every baby delivery as a success or a failure (for the medical staff involved in it), how is that applicable to the mother or the baby?
I mean, beyond being both in good health...what's more important? What defines a success or a failure in a few words?
I was doing the bf session just recently, and one of the mothers said her friend had stopped breastfeeding, but she (the mother in the class, not the friend) reckoned she had not tried very hard (implication being that she should have persisted). I would always try to put another view, and not to be critical of anyone's experiences....but I cannot get into an argument (no time, not the place either!). I do wonder (and worry) if other members of the class remember it as 'NCT told me.....' or 'the breastfeeding counsellor said.....'
It's hard, sometimes, and we're gonna get stuff badly wrong from time to time. But some of the time, it's not us, is what I'm wondering.
How the woman feels about the experience? What did she prefer? was she informed about the options she had for place of birth, options for support, managing the pain, ability to move around and feel at ease in her environment? Was she informed and cared for appropriately by the health care professionals? did she feel in control of what was going on and the decisions she was making for her care and her baby's care?
What support did she get postnatally? Were her questions answered? what was her recovery like? Were her decisions supported by her partner and wider family?
All of these aspects and more define how women may view the memories of their births. An elective Csection may be absolutely the right empowered choice for one women, as would a homebirth in water be for another.
All women are different, all choices are different, all are valid. How your baby is born is to some extent based on the choices women make but also on what happens during that labour with those caregivers, in those particular circumstances. I.e. best to know all choices so that on the day, women are able to decide what is best for them at the time.
Some elements of my NCT "lessons" were priceless, especially access to the breastfeeding support. But others left me feeling a total failure when I ended up having a c-section and my baby was in NICU for several weeks. The problem is that the national childbirth trust has SO much variation in the experience, attitude and abilities of the teachers that you cannot be sure of the same information. They need to have a proper syllabus to follow.
We specifically asked our teacher to discuss c-sections but instead she discreetly handed 1 member a book which started along the lines of "too many women have c-sections when they don't need them. C-sections have higher complications, risks and most don't take up breast-feeding afterwards". All based on research, sure BUT when you ask HOW does the NCT make women feel like failures - here's your frickin' answer!! C-sections were never discussed again.
My group was hijacked by a 1 dominant, confident woman planning a home birth and, in hindsight, the group leader pandered to her. Clearly because she too believed in the natural birth approach.
When pregnant with my second, a lot of people asked me if I was going to try for a "natural" birth this time. By which they meant vaginal. Lets face it, natural birth means no intervention, so even those women having vaginal deliveries in hospital aren't actually having natural births. Please can we stop using "natural" to mean vaginal. Is doesn't. And we're all grown ups - say it loud and say it proud V.A.G.I.N.A.L
Merlinscot - no no no no there is NO HIERARCHY - in my opinion - I think the division between good births and not so good ones is mistaken.
(medically, professionals must accept that they can do well or badly in supporting a woman - that is different)
Merlin don't let all this put you off because your comment that mother and baby being healthy should be the most important thing is spot on, and many of us feel that way. The same goes for feeding as well as birth IMO. As long as a mother and baby are happy and healthy that is that. I avoided classes for that reason after hearing all about them from my friend and just as well as I had to have intervention, ended up with an EMCS and don't get me started on breast feeding. I was happy and DS1 was happy though.
I had a lovely nct teacher, and they helped me breastfeed = brilliant, kind ladies
love the sales, coffee groups, magazine etc
but - i think there is a hierachy of birth experiences - i had 2 csections and felt really uncomfortable telling the people in my group - i was ok with the decision as so many factors led to it, but I still had to take a deep breath to tell teacher and others as it did feel as if all the classes had been for nothing!
Thanks LittleAbruzzenBear for your comment.
I think both mother and baby should be healthy and happy, no matter how the delivery happened or went etc.
I've had a few friends using the c-section and babies were quite happy and healthy afterwards. Instead, a couple of friends who 'insisted' to have a natural birth in the common belief that babies will come out perfect only because they were delivered that way, ended up having problems anyway (PND, babies unhappy and nervous, etc).
From the comments I could read here, it seems as NCT promotes natural birth but teachers don't stop there though and women fear, as newgirl confirms, to admit to the whole group they had a c-section. That is something I can't accept because such a choice can be made for many reasons and not just because you don't want to feel pain
Tinkertills, I would have probably slapped your NCT teacher after she had said "too many women have c-sections when they don't need them. C-sections have higher complications, risks and most don't take up breast-feeding afterwards", so maybe it's better I refrain from partecipating to any of these groups once the time will come for me too. I would probably be kicked off after the first meeting, because I already know I can't have a natural birth.
Has any of these 'geniuses' been alive when women used to die because they couldn't have a c-section? Then assuming that women have one only out of fear for the pain is absolutely insulting!
MerlinScot - she also told us that "babies do not get stuck"... and demonstrated the baby going through a mothers pelvis with the aid of a plastic doll (which was about a third of the size of my baby). Anyway, guess what I had my C-section for? That's right, baby got stuck and distressed. The same happened to my mum in the 1970s, however I was 2 pounds lighter and they managed to drag me out with forceps.
I do agree with other posters too, who have said the NHS antenatal classes push an agenda too. But I paid a lot of money for my NCT classes, i expected them to cover everything I'd need to know. I was in a group of 6 - c-section rates are 20-30% (depending on your region, hospital etc) so roughly 2 of us were statistically likely to have a c-section. Rates for any intervention are roughly 60%... you get the picture. Actually, given that most of those posting on here have said they found NCT very middle class, i reckon that the rates of intervention are even higher for those attending NCT since the middle classes tend to have babies later in life (which increases risk of intervention). So NCT in general do let down the vast majority of women. EVEN if the specific teachers are nice, helpful, experienced etc (as mine was) and EVEN if the people you meet there are nice, formed a good support network etc.
The NCT promote themselves as the ONLY national charity working on behalf of parenthood - to let down a large swathe of these parents is shocking.
Keep an open mind, Merlin, and read the stuff at the NCT website for info about NCT and caesarean section. www.nct.org.uk/birth/reasons-caesarean-birth is a good place to start. You already know there are a number of reasons why someone might have a section, and some of these are prob written about on the factsheet.
I don't think newgirl thought her teacher would be critical of her - and there was no suggestion anyone criticised her.
I have never heard of any NCT teacher assuming a woman only ever has a section out of fear....though this is one (very rare) reason for it.
I have never met anyone who thinks that a 'natural' birth means the baby will come out 'perfect' - this seems a very odd idea, and certainly, a 'natural' birth does not mean the mother won't have PND or the baby won't show nervous behaviour. Sounds like your friends had very misleading expectations
Hope you explore a few more ideas, and hear from women who have had different experiences before you make up your mind
Tinker - the vast majority of women attending NCT classes are not planning a c-section. The rate of unplanned c/s in the UK nationally is 14%, but for low risk first time mums it can be as low as 7.7% (the national emergency c/s rate for first time healthy mums planning a home birth) and as high as 13% for low risk mothers planning to give birth in an obstetric unit. You are right that statistically women attending NCT groups tend to have higher rates of intervention in birth than women in the general population, because they tend to be older (and also usually having a first baby!).
I always make sure people attending my classes are aware that the majority of first time mums nationally will have interventions in their birth, particularly those mums over 30.
Do you think that women should be told about choices they might make which could reduce the likelihood of them needing interventions in birth, or do you think this is pushing a natural birth agenda, and might make women who go on to have an emergency c/s feel like failures?
fab,as an nct teacher you're unobjective and struggle with the narratives of mums
no one is denying your pov or your experience,I accept it as your authentic account
stop ohh and ahhing about other people account or disputing their recall,it's disrespectful
I see you dispute the recall and accounts you don't like,presumably then you dispute the affirmative feedback and letters you also received?or are you only challenging the poor feedback as inadequate recall....
you're doing a fine job of not listening
you're refuting lots
as unpleasant as it is to read,you need to read and accept someone else lived experience
nct is a fine organization with great campaigning history,it needs to change.as these threads attest there's work to be done
tiktok, I'll try to keep an open mind although I don't have a choice, I know that already. I suffer from a degerative issue to the backspine and even the pregnancy itself could be a problem, let alone delivering the baby without any intervention. That would mean me dying or getting paralysed while delivering.
My concerns were more of a general kind and I was just worried that such a big organisation apparently dismissed the c-sections as failures. Ok with promoting natural births and breastfeeding but not with pushing it beyond limits, as it seems they did in a few cases. Mothers should be informed about any of the available opportunities before delivering. That's the support they look for beforehand.
My mum refused a C-section twice because her midwife insisted she could have a natural birth for me and my brother later on. In both cases, she had more than 30 internal stitches. My brother's weight was nearly 10 pounds and he was born with forceps. The psychiatrist who visited him 5 years ago said that he had had 60% more of chances to have contracted a schizophrenic disorder because his birth left him traumatized. Thus, a c-section back then would have avoided my brother being half-bald since he was a newborn and also becoming a mental health patient later on.
newgirl is v much saying she was anxious discussing her cs to nct teacher
"felt really uncomfortable telling people in my group...had to take deep breath to tell the teacher and others" that's indicative of anxiety at disclosing.deep breath, felt really uncomfortable..
now newgirl can come back and elaborate if she wishes,but I read it v much as perceived nct teacher would be critical and/or disappointed
Merlin, I meant keep an open mind about NCT being able to support you with your pregnancy, birth an early parenting - not about whether you want/need/prefer a section...seems clear you don't have the luxury of choice, but you may still want to know plenty of other stuff, and of course you do have options about other aspects. It's clear some people feel they have failed or feel they are criticised, but honestly, that's not been my experience of classes or my colleagues within the organisation.
For a long time, there's been discussion in the psychiatric literature of a link between birth trauma and later serious mental health problems, and there seems to be something in this...but it is one of many factors and there's no real cause and effect. It's absolutely not the case that forceps = increased risk, and in any case, caesarean section is also one of the birth traumas linked to increased risk, so you really cannot say a section would have prevented your brother's problems. It's complicated, multi-factorial, and to be honest, not part of this discussion.
I'm including this sort of detail in my post, as I would be really concerned that anyone reading this might otherwise think their birth interventions would impact on their babies' later mental health - these are not issues to bandy about lightly on a forum
"Do you think that women should be told about choices they might make which could reduce the likelihood of them needing interventions in birth, or do you think this is pushing a natural birth agenda, and might make women who go on to have an emergency c/s feel like failures?"
No, of course not fabsmum! You sound very different to my NCT teacher, who having had three homebirths herself was loathe to even talk about pain relief (she called it "coping strategies") let alone c-sections. She was asked by the group to discuss c-sections and she did not. We were left with no doubt that "one intervention leads to another" and that was to be considered a very bad thing indeed. Its entirely possible that this variation in teaching approach and information delivery is at the root of the problem. If there was a national syllabus and programme of teaching it might help? You could then have an extra session for attendee led questions?
I thoroughly enjoyed my sessions when I was having them, but I'm afraid they let me down when it came to the birth. I'll say it again that the breast feeding support was fantastic and I used it several times (with home visits).
What I'm reading from this board is that the problem is variation across the country.
I have never read robust research linking birth trauma to schizophrenia as causal
I don't want to sidetrack this interesting thread
scottishmummy you are seeing everything very clearly, and things are fuzzier than that!
newgirl will, I hope, tell us if she expected criticism or disappointment (and yes, she had some anxiety about telling, for sure) but I did not take that certainty from her post.
I meant 'fuzzier' WRT newgirl's post, not the other thing, which was X-posted..
I'm seeing some knee jerk denial getting in way of thought provoking thread
nct is a valuable organization, alls is being said is systemically something is amiss
I think it's achievable to face challenges of what's gone wrong and emerge as a continued force for good
scottishmummy - I would sum up my position as yes, NCT gets it wrong sometimes; people can have a bad experience that leaves them in bits sometimes, at other times just very cross; sometimes, people forget stuff (pedagogical conundrum); all these points should be addressed; but if things are changed 'systemically' as you ask, you risk reducing the satisfaction over 90 per cent of people say they have.
"as unpleasant as it is to read,you need to read and accept someone else lived experience"
What - if someone tells me that they wished I'd covered something in the class which I knew I had, I should accept I didn't cover it because they didn't remember it?
People have poor recall of what they do in classes - that is all. It's absolutely NOT disrespectful to flag this point up here in response to all the comments here about things that are and aren't covered in NCT classes.
FWIW - I also question the positive feedback I get. I know that much of the positive feedback about courses is the result of people liking me as a person and wanting to be kind.
And no, I'm not objective. Neither is any midwife or antenatal teacher or doctor I know. But I try to give balanced and up to date information, and be aware of how my personal experiences and beliefs might impact on the way I teach. Which is more than can be said for a lot of people working with parents.
Oh, and I have no idea about what you mean when you say I'm not accepting people's accounts of their births. How so? The accounts 'I don't like' are the ones where mums tell me they had terrible care or where someone had a horrible experience and is clearly still gutted about it. I'm a human being and I care about my clients. I don't comment on what's happened to them, I just listen and suggest ways of feeding back their thoughts to the unit if they want to do that at any point. How is this disrespectful?
fab,im saying you seem to be minimizing and denying accounts on this thread
i accept your account of nct with no buts,you need to afford other women the same
your impartiality is impeding your responses. having read others accounts what do you think nct needs to do
scottishmummy it is incredibly difficult to have a sensible debate with someone who obviously isn't taking in what other people say (especially if it doesn't fit with your reading of the situation). Just because you keep repeating something doesn't make it the 'truth'...
[bows out of thread]
you can get exasperated as you wish, I'm not clear what your point is either no definitive nct experience,as you can see it ranges from plaudits to condemnation
but what is case,is each account is someone recollection.that's the interesting bit
"People have poor recall of what they do in classes - that is all."
This is so patronising. Yes, I'm sure that accounts for all the individual experiences of women that spoke out on this matter.
As I mentioned upthread, my classes (10 months ago) were dismal; we had to specifically request that the teacher addressed interventions like ventouse, forceps and c-section.
Even then it was glazed over in less than 10 minutes in favour of even more bloody "ice-breaking, getting to know you" exercises (we were in week 3 by this point!)
The breastfeeding class in particular was a mine of misinformation and a plethora of medically incorrect statements.
I'm sure there are very positive experiences - mine was of a glorified dating agency for pregnant couples.
yes it is patrionising and dismissive
What were the misinformed and medically incorrect statements about bf, Poppy?
scottish, I think it is the case that there are instances of poor recall of the content of classes....I have experienced it myself, both as a student and as an educator. I don't think it's patronising or dismissive - it's what happens to human beings in a teaching/learning/situation. I have tried to overcome this (see previous posts) but I'd love to have a foolproof way of doing it. I really want my bf sessions to be the best they possibly can be, and for people to remember what they need and want to know, and to feel prepared, confident and supported. I only get this right some of the time, I know.
Sample dialogue between me and a postnatal mother calling:
me: do you remember we talked a bit about how it's normal for babies to feed at irregular times and to be unpredictable?
Mother: um....you mean when you said to feed every three hours?
(I really, really didn't......but she thinks I did. It's happened on mumsnet - people say I have said something and I haven't. A couple of times I have had to link to the post where I'm supposed to have said something I didn't!).
In case no one up thread has done it...
this nails it hillariouly
Thanks for giving me a laugh at 7 in the morning! Love him, but our teacher wasn't that touchy feely... unless I've forgotten
'Don't let the doctors near you' - but when I reported that I got told I was libellous!
I feel a little sorry for the 14 year old boys in the video forced tolearn about the NCT.
Very funny Nigella, Dara's a treasure.
I must say that my experience with NCT was absolutely nothing like that.
Oh interesting. So even though the posters on here talking about frequent provable instances of women misremembering what they have been told in class, it is still considered patronising to point this out as a possible reason for the varied response to the classes?
Pregnant women get bombarded with crap from all sides from some very unreliable sources (Dms, MILs, grandparents, well meaning but confused friends etc.) it isn't surprising that they sometimes muddle who said what and whether they should have bothered listening in the first place.
Also I love Dara to bits but the medical guidelines do rather imply that a tear is preferable to a cut. Routine cuts were phased out yonks ago....and are now only recommended in cases of distress. To compare it to surgery is a bit ridiculous tbh.
ICBINEG - its one thing to point out that women are subject to recall bias but quite another when people are posting that they specifically asked for a topic to be covered in their session (in my case we asked for c-sections) and for it to be brushed under the carpet.
I wholly support de-medicalised births wherever possible. However, the majority of women attending NCT WILL have an intervention and it is irresponsible of the biggest (?) provider of private ante-natal education to deliver that education in such a patchy way (by which i mean that some educators cover c-sections, drugs etc and others don't).
"its one thing to point out that women are subject to recall bias but quite another when people are posting that they specifically asked for a topic to be covered in their session (in my case we asked for c-sections) and for it to be brushed under the carpet."
I totally agree. And to categorise every single account in this fashion is disingenuous at best.
"Pregnant women get bombarded with crap from all sides from some very unreliable sources (...) it isn't surprising that they sometimes muddle who said what and whether they should have bothered listening in the first place."
Funnily enough, I managed to secure two degrees, a Master degree and a doctorate despite this apparent inability to recall basic information (and its source).
I also took extensive notes from my NCT classes, including when the Breastfeeding counsellor categorically stated that there's "no medical condition that would prevent successful breastfeeding, just bad mindsets and lack of support".
It's so disappointing that NCT representatives/teachers/supporters are refusing to acknowledge these experiences or choose to undermine them.
I actually thought I had been unlucky with my particular class, but because of all these reactions from people connected to the organisation, I now openly question their credibility and their ethos as an organisation.
I don't think 'every single account' of people's experiences has been blamed on recall errors - not by me or anyone.
This is a part of what happens, and it does not matter how many degrees someone has , they can still make errors of this kind.
It's nothing to do with being academic or intelligent, it's to do with being human It's happened to me, and it's been done by me as well (in classes and courses where I have been sure X or Y happened, or didn't happen and I was wrong).
I too am positively bristling with brainpower and umpteen letters before and after my name, but it still happens. Can't help it. I'm mere flesh and blood
Is that the mistatement from the bfc you referred to, Poppy? It's definitely wrong - what happened when/if you challenged it or complained about it? The bfc concerned would be contacted, and her story would be listened to, and she would be corrected/sent for retraining/put in touch with her supervisor. It's a bizarre thing to say, and not what is taught in training at all.
Was it just that or was there other stuff to make a mine and a plethora?
"I too am positively bristling with brainpower and umpteen letters before and after my name, but it still happens. Can't help it. I'm mere flesh and blood"
tiktok clearly you disliked the fact I mentioned my academic background, but there's no need to be passive-agressive.
It was an example in a context which seemed relevant and pretty obvious to me, not an attempt to illustrate any type of infallibility, but I think you know that anyway.
Yes, that was one of the statements in breastfeeding class, when answering a direct question from an attendee. She also assured me that my diabetes and hypothyroidism had "no impact" on breastfeeding. I did fill in a feedback form with extensive details.
I wouldn't like to go in too much detail, mainly because this isn't my story to tell but one of the women had given birth the week before and still decided to attend the breastfeeding module for obvious reasons.
She brought the baby with her to class, explained she was struggling, baby was jaundiced, hadn't had a wet nappy in 24 HOURS and the last time before that his nappy had "yellow things" in it. Now, I'm not a physician but I'm pretty sure that the advice she received "to go to a breastfeeding support group to check her latching" and to continue the "excellent work doing skin-to-skin" wasn't the most appropriate!
Anyway, my point is I agree with what the NCT promotes - I did the hypnotherapy, I'm HUGELY pro-breastfeeding and I am/was a captive audience - why else would I have paid for the course?
I'm not "the enemy" here and I'm not attacking the NCT; I'm talking about MY experience with the organisation.
Considering I paid them, I'm a customer and I'll be damned if anyone takes away my right to feel disappointed with the service I got.
OK, I was teasing a little bit about the academic stuff, but you needed reminding that recall bias is nothing to do with exams ... I wasn't trying to be snide or nasty, honest, just joking a bit. Shan't try that again, for sho'...
Diabetes and underactive thyroid don't prevent bf, but it's not true to say they have no impact....she was out of line, no doubt, and your feedback will have led to action.
The mother who brought her baby: bfcs cannot give medical advice and it may have been the case that the mother was in touch with the midwife and the bfc ascertained that....and gave other correct supportive info, knowing the mother was already getting clinical support.
Who is taking away your right to be disappointed with the course??? You did the right thing, in drawing attention to the shortcomings on the form.
hmm have also not noted any particular correlation between number of doctorates/professorship and ability to remember anything you are told without putting a massive amount of your own spin on it....
<may have had some spectacularly bad meetings this week with professors who are determined to bring their baggage to my arguments>
It's a bit odd to suggest it is inappropriate to downplay the bad experiences (or put them in context as I believe is what has actually been done on this thread) meanwhile people are dismissing the 93% satisfaction rating in order to call for massive overhaul.
Surely it is even more ridiculous to downplay the opinions of the 93% than to downplay the opinions of the 7%?
"It's a bit odd to suggest it is inappropriate to downplay the bad experiences (or put them in context as I believe is what has actually been done on this thread) meanwhile people are dismissing the 93% satisfaction rating in order to call for massive overhaul."
Moreover, 93 per cent satisfaction is of current and recent experiences (of courses; helpline survey shows similar levels), so that has to be factored in. No doubt about it - people can have a bad time with NCT, and the organisation needs to learn from their experiences. But the balance does not suggest a need for radical/systemic change.
I don't think there has been a satisfaction audit of NCT groups and social gatherings where people on this thread and elsewhere report various acts of rudeness, snobbery, judgmentalism, dirty looks, tactless remarks, embarrassed silences...the sort of undesirable things that can happen anywhere, whatever the umbrella organisation's ethos, and which are difficult to avoid in life if you are going to go out anywhere (or stay in, for that matter, with MN ) Also hard for an organisation to prevent.
"hmm have also not noted any particular correlation between number of doctorates/professorship and ability to remember anything you are told"
Oh ffs - well I've noticed a correlation between successful academic results and the ability to take reliable notes from hundreds of lectures / symposiums / debates.
But clearly my NCT notes also suffer from "recall bias". As well as DH's notes and his memory of events.
"Surely it is even more ridiculous to downplay the opinions of the 93% than to downplay the opinions of the 7%?"
They're not opinions, they're experiences and (unlike you) I have never downplayed anyone's, I only ever spoke of mine.
Now I'm told that if it's not recall bias, I'm putting a "massive amount of your own spin on it".
This is frankly beyond the pale and offensive.
If a woman was complaining about insensitive comments made by a doctor would you question a her ability to recall the conversation (or accuse her of putting a massive spin on it)?
Would you question a woman's report of emotional abuse?
In fact, I have seen dozens of cases on this board where women complain about poor breastfeeding advice from the NHS and they're always supported to the chorus of much tutting and talk of "re-training" of the midwives. Never have I seen anyone question their recollection of events.
In fact, funnily enough I'd be willing to bet you'd be amongst the first people "calling for major overhaul".
Anyway, I'm leaving this thread because I'm starting to feel like I'm being gaslighted!
And that post was a response to ICBINEG - crossed posts with tiktok
I don't think I or anyone else questioned your personal experience or recall, Poppy, still less your note-taking. Actually, I don't think I have led any session for NCT where any of the parents-to-be took notes, so you're unusual, I think.
The question was about whether all memories or experiences are accurate - they cannot be, and this is a known weakness in any research into anything. This is not to say everyone with a negative experience is wrong, or lying, or mistaken - far from it.
Believe me; some people are. I gave an example of where it happened to me.
It's a known educational conundrum - how do we teach/facilitate learning in a way which is meaningful and lasting, and which people can remember?
Do you really not believe in recall bias? As a phenomenon? I don't think anyone here has suggested any individual has had this - how could we know? But speaking generally, it happens.
And I object to the assumption that I would never doubt a mother's recall of what the midwife or HV said to her. I am not suggesting you search my posts, but if you did, you would find a regular suggestion from me that the poster asks again, gets clarification, finds another source of information. I am certain mothers misunderstand, misremember and even embellish what is said to them by HCPs....some of the time. Because this is what human beings do.
Re: class satisfaction
Recently I went to a class for which I paid £60 for a 3 hour class to be instructed in something practical. When the instructor introduced the class, it was clear that she would not be covering the aspect of the class which was promised. I asked her about that and she confirmed. So I paid £60 to sit for three hours and learn nothing. The class ran well for an hour - that part was enjoyable - but the instructor ran out of steam and the last two hours were spent chatting.
It was a poor class, but the instructor seemed like a nice person, just somewhat out of her depth. This has nothing to do with the NCT on the face of it, I'm not trying to draw a parallel there. What I did next really surprised me.
I bumped into her about ten minutes after the class had finished, and I thanked her for what she had(n't) taught and said I'd really enjoyed the class.
I have no idea why I did that! I was dissatisfied, £60 worse off, and have slagged the class off to anyone who needed to know, for the past few months. But there was such a strong impetus to say it was good and I'd enjoyed it.
It's well known that we do this. Unless we are allowed to fill in anonymous questionnaires, at some distance to the event, we don't respond with clarity.
I'm just saying that the anonymity here and the ability to assess something with hindsight and the clarity that can bring, might explain the difference in satisfaction rates. It's nothing like 93% or even 20%. What work is being done to improve assessment of customer satisfaction, or are threads like this (containing massive amounts of free customer analysis) simply ignored?
tiktok: recall bias can be dealt with, by repeated exposure to the data in a variety of contexts, with a variety of strategies to facilitate recall. Teachers do this all the time. They do what they can to lessen the chance that students will fail to recall data. It's no guarantee, but you talk about it as though it's inevitable that people will fail to remember covering the important items. It simply isn't.
Really good point, Stephaniepowers.
Stephanie, good point about recall bias (about forgetting stuff that was done), and you'll see further downthread that I try to avoid it by doing exactly what you say - repeating stuff. It doesn't work all the time, though, see my example also downthread.
The feedback satisfaction surveys from NCT clients is anonymous and not given to the teacher herself. It is collected centrally. Teachers and bfcs may have their own feedback forms which although anonymous, could well be affected by the need to be 'polite'. The 93 per cent rate comes from the centrally collected feedback.
I was worried I was the only one that hadn't taken notes, 5 years of that at university was enough for me.
It would be interesting to know how many people fill in their feedback per and post birth. My own feedback would have been better when I was still living in the 'woo' light a lavender candle and breathe through it belief immediately after the class than post birth when all manner of interventions had happened and I loved both the doctors, midwives and particularly my anaesthetist. Filling in t&r feedback form post birth I was very angry about the lack of preparation the classes actually provided.
I can't remember filling out a feedback form
All clients are offered a feedback form after the class - if some people are not given one, then something has gone awry, these things happen. Not everyone fills it in.
The centrally collected feedback is collected in the weeks after the birth.
These are two different types of feedback, for sure.
I don't remember any post birth forms and we filled in the forms that were collected by our teacher.
The centrally collected feedback is done online - there are no paper forms. It would be very difficult and expensive to send out 50,000 or thereabouts paper forms by post and expect to get many of them back. You will have been emailed a link to fill in the online survey.
I opted for NCT antenatal classes as the NHS ones offered were no good with my shifts.
I found my teacher to be very open-minded, had 3 children of her own and, although all of hers were natural births She spoke a lot about other options, including c-sections (emergency too) and all types of pain relief. The aim was to make sure we knew about every possible scenario so whatever happened, we would feel calmer, for our's and the baby's sake.
When it came to discussing breast feeding, another person took this class as the antenatal teacher was unable to talk from experience (even she didn't breast feed). The whole atitude to breast feeding was 'if you want to, there's lots of help available, but if you don't want to that's fine too'. Information was given about the benefits of breast milk in the baby's first 6 weeks but again, there was no pressure placed upon it. The impression I got was, if you can and you want to great but it's not for everyone. It doesn't work for everyone and that's fine too. There's a lot of pressure for new mothers (first time or not) and adding to it with 'breast feeding guilt' is wrong.
I was very lucky. I've had 2 successful home births, both without pain relief. Believe me, if I thought I could have struggled into hospital second time around for pain relief I would have! Realising I just wouldn't make it I faced up to the fact I would just have to get thought it, and I did. I have also been successful in breast feeding both of my sons. I did it as it would save me money, nothing more. The health benefits are, of course, great news but I was fully prepared to go to formula if I needed to. I actually found (to my surprise) I loved it! The closeness to my baby, the feeling of doing something only I could do and that it was of direct benefit to my baby were all added bonuses. It wasn't easy to get it right at the begining but with a little perseverance and help from NCT & a breast feeding group (non-NCT) I found I could do it. I'm glad I breast fed but am happy to formula feed any future children I'm lucky to have if I need to.
My entire experience with NCT was very positive and I have ended up volunteering for my local branch. I really hope anyone who has a negative view of NCT will make contact with their local branch and find out if their negativity is justified. If it is thought a poor experience then fair-enough (and I feel truly sorry you've been made to feel that way), but not every person is the same, not every branch is the same and perhaps your poor experience should be highlighted directly with NCT to make sure others don't experience the same.
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