Kirstie Allsopp in twitter row with NCT

(183 Posts)
DuelingFanjo Sun 20-Feb-11 22:59:01

Sorry for the DM link.

what do you think about this?

Personally I think my NCT class covered C-sections very well, though there was an emphasis on 'natural' birth through-out the course. I was glad of the C-Section info when I was signing papers for the possibility, though in the end didn't need one.

Sadly my experience (Midwives not checkinghow dilated I was, No gas and Air for ages, Having waters broken, Spinal at 10 cm dilated, episiotomy and so on) has made me wonder if I would want to attempt a more natural birth next time - I am worried that I will be too scared to try.

Do you think she is right though, are women who have C-sections being made to feel like failures?

Grumpla Sun 20-Feb-11 23:05:29

Sounds like bollocks to me.

My NCT class covered c-sections in detail, including a sort of 'role play' to explain how many people would be in the room, what their jobs were etc as one of the really scary things (apparently) about having a crash c section is that suddenly you are surrounded by a massive crowd of people. There was a woman in my group scheduled for a c section for health reasons although in the end she didnt have one (baby beat them to it!) and I think our teacher went out of her way to reassure her about it. We read several articles about making c sections less traumatic (obviously more an option for scheduled than for crash) and she did make it very clear that there was no 'right' or 'wrong' way to have a baby.

Meglet Sun 20-Feb-11 23:06:30

We spent a whole class on c-sections during our NCT course. It was role play too, I was a paediatrician grin. From what I read on MN I think some NCT teachers give more info on cs's than others.

I don't feel like a failure for having c-sections (1st was emergency, second was planned). Never even crossed my mind to worry about it and no-one has ever commented on it.

fivegomadindorset Sun 20-Feb-11 23:08:36

We talked about this at my daughters school, and according to one alpha female as I had had 2 sections, I have never given birth and yes it well and truly pissed me off.

TwoIfBySea Sun 20-Feb-11 23:09:14

I suppose she has a point. There is so much emphasis on natural that if you have a c-section and bottle-feed a baby you are made to feel as though you are the worst failure as a mother. There is no information and without the knowledge it makes what should be a wonderful time very scary.

Speaking as someone who had an emergency c-section thanks to pre-eclampsia and who ended up bottle feeding after the milk didn't come properly. Yes, I do feel stigmatised and I would have liked to do everything naturally but I think others have to realise that is not always possible and get off the soapbox.

I would have liked information on the best alternative to breast milk but as it was I was shown how to make up a bottle by another mother on the ward as it was so taboo.

TondelayoSchwarzkopf Sun 20-Feb-11 23:10:01

My NCT class covered c-sections in detail - and the girls that did have a c-section were grateful for it - particularly the bit that explained how many people were present in the theatre.

Though (God help me) I do agree that there is an industry dedicated to promoting the idea that non-interventioned births are superior and the NCT is part of it.

TwoIfBySea Sun 20-Feb-11 23:10:09

five, what you say is that you had them surgically removed. It really winds them up, these ubermums.

DuelingFanjo Sun 20-Feb-11 23:12:52

Same here Meglet and Grumpla, I had the role-play too.

sharbie Sun 20-Feb-11 23:13:29

she is wayyy too posh to push

PedlarsSpanner Sun 20-Feb-11 23:17:32

one of my DCs was a crash c section and honest to god I never ever realised that I ought to have viewed myself as a failure, and if I WAS viewed as a failure by HCPS then they were consummate professionals because I had NO IDEA, none at all

Everyone involved, me, family, medics, friends, all were relieved at the safe arrival of the baby and I only found out that I could have been considered a failure when I rocked up on MN a few years back

I wonder if this notion that you have failed a test if you have a c section is a new thing?

LittleCheesyPineappleOne Sun 20-Feb-11 23:18:45

I agree with her actually.

I love the NCT, think they do really good work; I volunteered for them for a few years after DC1.

I do however, remain very upset at how little information I got re c sections (no role play here), and how shabbily I was treated afterwards - like the couple in the article we were not being invited back to talk to the next class (the people who were invited back had had lovely waterbirths blah blah).

It took me a looooong time to get over my feelings of failure, until I had my second and third births by v positive elective sections. Although it's mostly my own issues, I don't think the NCT are entirely blameless.

monkey9237 Sun 20-Feb-11 23:18:55

My NCT classes barely touched on c-sections or bottle-feeding. The teacher even said "we dont want any of that Too Posh To Push nonsense here' when talking about the possibility of labour ending in a c-section. About half of the women in my class ended up having sections for one reason or another, and the NCT classes alone could not be said to have prepared anyone for it.

IngridFletcher Sun 20-Feb-11 23:24:09

95% of clients on NCT classes say they did cover c-sections. Some teachers choose not to cover c-sections but they should be up front about that before the course is booked. No NCT course covers bottle feeding but expressing and therefore sterilizing etc should be covered.

DirtyMartini Sun 20-Feb-11 23:26:18

I never bothered with NCT but a few people I know who did attend have told me that CS was not really given much discussion time (am in Edinburgh). I have def formed the impression that there are many NCT groups (not all) where participants get a sense of CS births being stigmatised.

DuelingFanjo Sun 20-Feb-11 23:27:53

"we were not being invited back to talk to the next class"

does this still happen? No one came to my class.

We didn't have anything on expressing which was a shame as I ended up having to do so and wasn't clear about what to do or how to sterilize.

IngridFletcher Sun 20-Feb-11 23:38:57

Different teachers do different things. There is no NCT way that all teachers follow. Some invite a couple from their last classes to come and talk about the birth and early parenting. If I was choosing someone to ask I would do so on personality and age of baby not type of birth.

MaMattoo Sun 20-Feb-11 23:41:35

I did not even find it remotely funny when I heard the 'too posh to push' phrase. We were not told much about c-secs because the whole shift in thinking is about trying the natural way and so we should not even dwell on c-secs, which we did not. I agree with KA about this.

I did not want a c-sec at all. I came home in pain with baby and still (10 months on) remember sitting in a puddle of tears, not able to get over the shock of what had just happened to my baby. Crying because i wanted to hold him close without feeling the pain. Hating the pain and hating myself for being so negative and hung up about what the medical community calls 'major surgery'.

OOAOML Sun 20-Feb-11 23:41:45

Our NCT class covered CS in quite a lot of detail, and there was support afterwards as well. There were 2 CS in a group of 6 couples (we were one of them). That was in Edinburgh 7 years ago (picking up on what DirtyMartini said).

DuelingFanjo Sun 20-Feb-11 23:44:36

is it a shift in tinking to have a natural birth? Surely the shift is towards medical/surgical intervention and that is a recent thing? I do believe that the more informed women are about their birth choices, the less likely it is that they will go down a path of intervention.

Not every C-section is an emergency.

my NCT did cover it in a role-play way as well. However after having an EMCS and then going to bumps and babes my NCT leader was a bit dismissive of me and said I probably didn't need one really (heart beat slowing as cord around neck) and it was probably because I had been induced (2 weeks over). I can see this is probably true but she was a bit mean about it! It did irk me a bit but I was happy just to have my lovely baby. I was invited back afterwards though and have made some great friends!

Violethill Mon 21-Feb-11 08:17:48

Hmmm I'm in two minds about this.

My experience of NCT, is that although there is an underlying ethos of natural childbirth, the teachers will also try to tailor the course to any individual needs within the group. eg if a woman has had a previous section, then this may well be more of a focus than in another group, where they haven't.

The bottom line is, the vast majority of births have the potential to be natural. I assume Kirstie Allsop must be one of the minority who cannot give birth naturally, but we have to remember that's a minority. Even where a woman needs a CSection for a specific birth with one of her children, it doesn't mean it will be medically necessary for all (eg, I needed a Csection for dc2, but I had dc1 and 3 naturally).

We have to remember that the safest way, statistically, for a woman to deliver her baby is naturally. Of course there will be exceptions to that (as with my dc2) but its a general rule that holds true. Many CSections are carried out during a labour which could have had a natural outcome, but the cascade of intervention - perhaps the mother not being well supported enough, or given a range of natural pain relief options, or has an epidural and the labour is less effective - means a CS is the result.

I think the NCT are brilliant, and I don't believe they are in the business of trying to make anyone feel guilty - but I do think people need to be aware of what they are buying into. eg when a friend of mine, who was quite upfront about not being bothered by natural birth, and wanted "all the drugs going" asked me about NCT, I said that frankly, I would have felt it wasn't good value for money if I was sure I wanted a very medicalised birth. The emphasis is very much on breathing, relaxation, and natural methods, and it probably isn't best value if you're not someone who chooses that. (And yes, before anyone points it out, I know not everyone has the type of birth that they planned, but some women do decide they want medical intervention. I know quite a number who have specifically booked into hospitals where epidurals are available and routinely given, because thats what the woman wants.

So, all in all, I think the NCT are great, and I think a lot of this 'guilt' over CSections is misplaced, and isn't necessarily anyone's fault. I have certainly never, in real life, heard anyone call anyone else a failure for having a CSection. I have, on the other hand, come across some women who wish for themself that their labour had not been so medicalised.

My NCT class covered c-sections......spent quite a while on it as I recall. Refused to discuss formula though hmm

I meant to add that a lot of the content is down to the individual teacher rather than the organisation as a whole.

Avantia Mon 21-Feb-11 08:30:56

So has Kirsty attended very NCY class throughout the country and taken a survey to come to this conclusion ?

This below os from NCT website

'Find out as much as you can
A caesarean can be an extremely positive experience, when mothers feel confident that it was the right choice for them and that their wishes were respected. It may be planned in advance, called an ‘elective’ caesarean or it may have to be agreed at short notice, especially during labour, when it is termed an ‘emergency’ caesarean.

For some women the suggestion of a caesarean, or the decision to carry out the operation, will come as a welcome relief. The circumstances of each situation and the information that a woman has been given will combine to reassure her that a caesarean birth is definitely right for her and her baby at that time.

For other women, the prospect of a caesarean can be disappointment or distressing. If a woman has not been given enough information, or she is not convinced of the need for or the ‘rightness’ of a caesarean, then she may feel that she has no option but to agree, despite her misgivings. Under these circumstances a caesarean can, sadly, be a traumatic experience.

If you do not feel you have been given sufficient information, or you do not understand your circumstances as well as you would like to, do ask for more information. You have a right to a second opinion, and if there is time (for example, if it’s an elective caesarean) you can seek further information from elsewhere such as caesarean support organisations or the Internet. The NCT has a detailed book “Caesarean Birth your Questions Answered” which will give you more information.'

Sorry cant remeber wherther it was covered in my class or not some 10 yrs ago !

Unrulysun Mon 21-Feb-11 08:33:57

I wish I hadn't had an emcs but given that we'd both be very dead otherwise I think guilt is about the last emotion I feel.

My NCT class was awful, our teacher had absolutely no idea how to structure a course or a class or anything really. Talking about episiotomy she, rather memorably, claimed that 'as the baby crowns, some women tear but others have an orgasm' (I'll have option B please). I think as an organisation it needs to quality control far better than it has.

Violethill Mon 21-Feb-11 09:12:45

PMSL at the idea of a woman having an orgasm as the baby crowns. Perhaps a handful of women worldwide may claim to have experienced that - but hardly worth a mention! IME, tearing as the baby crowns is the most excruciating part of giving birth by a mile.

DuplicitousBitch Mon 21-Feb-11 09:19:06

i went to one nct class and was horrified. never went back

nymphadora Mon 21-Feb-11 09:21:08

Kirsty said on twitter she had a discussion with someone from the show about CS & both hadn't had info in NCT classes and asked other people on twitter for their input. That was her 'survey' and got in discussions with a NCT person on twitter over what classes cover.

I feel that the amount NCT charges they should have a set curriculum so you know what you're paying for.

Lollypolly Mon 21-Feb-11 09:29:34

My DD is 6.5 and I'm still waiting for the NCT to get back to me about emergency breast pump rental. It's the only time I've ever had anything to do with them.

If you feel guilty about a c-section or bottle feeding, what is exactly that makes you feel guilty? It is something someone said? I had a c-section and bottle fed both of mine - not a shred of guilt here.

Violethill Mon 21-Feb-11 09:32:58

We did loads of relaxation, breathing techniques, massage etc at ours- and as a mum who got through her first labour on these, I'd say it was well worth it. However, I can quite see that for other people it may not be. FWIW I had a CS second time around and I felt the refresher NCT class I'd done hadn't turned out to be good value- but thats not anyones fault- it was just one of those things. 3rd time I didn't bother with NCT as I knew there was an increased risk now of another CS, though as it turned out I drew on a lot of the techniques learned first time, and had a natural VBAC.
sounds to me like kirstie ended up with csections, either through medical reasons or through the cascade of intervention, and is a bit sour grapes at feeling the classes Weren't as useful to her as they might be to others

Grumpla Mon 21-Feb-11 09:36:15

I imagine that like all classes, skool etc you probably do have some very good teachers and some who aren't so good or who are perhaps a little too heavily subscribed to one particular agenda.

But one of the many things I was impressed by was the detailed feedback forms we were asked to fill out (both at the end of the class and later online) so I imagine this is something the NCT as an organisation is trying to address.

With regards to those who felt put out at not being invited to talk to the next group - we had two couples come in to one of our sessions - it would have been a bit frightening to have 8 couples and babies descend on us! Perhaps this is just a question of numbers? Also, whilst I certainly don't judge those who have a crash section ms am incredibly grateful to live in a country where the lives of mothers and babies can be saved by this method, I'm not sure the 'worst case scenario' is necessarily the story people need to hear in that context (8 months pregnant and shitting it!)

That is partly for the simple reason that telly, papers, films etc tell LOTS of stories about when things go a bit wrong. So having some actual real people sat there telling us that it had been hard but that they had managed it was pretty reassuring!

Yep, we had a session on c-sections as well.

As far as a curriculum goes - in our first session we "set" our curriculum - we were encouraged to write a list of the things we wanted to know about and our teacher made sure all of those things were covered - adding a few things of her own (including the c-section session, I don't think we asked for that)

DuplicitousBitch Mon 21-Feb-11 09:41:44

going to the nct is a choice and a fairly expensive one. the classes are taken by folk who mean well. alot of the well heeled, a-type personalities who go to teh classes build up birth into some sort of competition, i think the issue goes beyond the nct.

theyoungvisiter Mon 21-Feb-11 09:43:13

I agree with Grumpla. My NCT class was very non-judgemental and fact-based. We talked about what kinds of scenarios were likely to end up in what kinds of outcomes and why, and the course leader was very open about the statistics and options.

She said "Statistically three of you in this class will probably end up with sections and two of you will have an instrumental birth" and bizarrely that did indeed prove to be the case!

There was one woman schedule to have a section for medical reasons and like Grumpla's leader, our course leader was very inclusive and made sure that during the section of the course dealing with vaginal birth and labour this woman was included as much as possible. She also went out of her way to show how much of the advice about handling labour could be equally applied to handling a c-section (taking control of decisions, choosing your environment, music etc - asking for skin-to-skin afterwards).

I think there is often a feeling that once you have a section it's all mapped out, and she really made us feel like there was a way to take control of any scenario.

She was a qualified midwife though - and I think from speaking to other friends who did NCT, this was pretty amazing and her information was spot on and very realistic. I am not sure all course-leaders are so well qualified.

Violethill Mon 21-Feb-11 09:44:25

I agree with that last point grumpla- i suspect if a poll were done, most couples would want to meet a woman who's had a straightforward birth. I was invited back to speak to the next NCT group after dd1 and received very positive feedback. I think it was reassuring for a load of 8 months pregnant women to hear that yes, you can have a first baby naturally without everything going wrong.

I also returned after dc3 , by which time I'd had a cs and vbac as well, so I think the teacher thought I was good value for money, having experienced just about every style of birth!!!

theyoungvisiter Mon 21-Feb-11 09:46:33

Oh and yes we did a role-play of an emergency CS and one woman who ended up with an emergency CS told me afterwards how amazingly helpful she found it, to have an idea of how many people would be in the room, what they all did, and what the different stages would be.

I think my course handled it very well - but can see that it clearly depends on the trainer.

Forster Mon 21-Feb-11 09:46:35

I did NCT to meet other parents.

The educational bit was awful though, very biased towards HB. Interventions were regarded as bad and natural birth talked up and up.

Very little information on life after the birth.

I ended up with a 36 hour labour, high forceps delivery. I felt a failure and it was only after the birth of my second child that I realised how 'set up' I had been by the misinformation given out
Birth is a vulnerable time accurate information needs to be given.

Likewise with the bf debate similar and very biased info. I bf both my children but to be honest I felt under HUGE pressure to BF, BUT I knew many women who felt a failure because they opted not to BF for whatever reason. Again I think the NCT and other similar prosletisers have a lot to answer for here and misinformation is rife. Yes great bf if you want to and you have enough support, etc... But if you chose not to fine.
It seems to be forgotten that the biggest cause of maternal death is suicide, birth is a very vulnerable time for many women, huge pressures on women about their own mothering and lets face the most important is that the baby has a mother who can cope and thus is able to care and love her baby. Anyway rant over - sorry blush

paddypoopants Mon 21-Feb-11 09:46:45

My NCT class (near Edinburgh) was brilliant and covered c-sections in great detail.
I don't think Twitter is a great place to have an informed debate on anything and the woman from the NCT was being idiotic to have any engaged in any sort of slanging match with an ill informed sleb about something as important as this via Tweets. Allsopp would need to get some sort of proper data before she starts this sort of crusade.

DuplicitousBitch - you know this from one class? What on earth happened in this class?

EmmaBemma Mon 21-Feb-11 09:50:47

"she is wayyy too posh to push"

What a horrible thing to say.

EmmaBemma Mon 21-Feb-11 09:55:50

and before you think I'm being defensive, I was "lucky" enough to squeeze two babies out of my fanjo, like the majority of women who give birth, but that doesn't mean I award myself the right to pass snotty comment about other women's experiences.

sharbie Mon 21-Feb-11 13:28:07

only meant in a light hearted way emma smile
you can't deny she is posh though

watfordmummy Mon 21-Feb-11 13:35:04

I just feel a failure as my dh wouldn't let me book NCT classes!! 11 years on and I'm still hurting!! grin

Clytaemnestra Mon 21-Feb-11 14:04:17

I had an "elective" CS (medical reasons which meant that I was very unlikely to manage a natural birth) and it was brilliant, I felt very lucky I didn't have to do it the natural way, I'm all about avoiding the pain.

And I have a gorgeous DD at the end of it Who cares if people say I haven't given birth? I haven't given birth in the natural way it's true, and I'm just fine about that.

I just love Kirsty Allsop. And this makes me love her more.

She's right. My NCT teacher tried to steer me out of having an elective c-section after I was diagnosed with a breech baby. So much emphasis was put on the birth. I remember sobbing with disappointment at not getting to have the experience.

The consultant who delivered DS later said it would have been a very dangerous birth. It was irresponsible of the NCT teacher to behave the way she did.

mamatomany Mon 21-Feb-11 14:23:52

I think given the fact that the property market has ground to a halt, KA is looking for something else to become an expert in, god help us.

theyoungvisiter Mon 21-Feb-11 14:27:36

Oh my god Mamatomany - you could be right!

Can you imagine - I can see it now, the first series could be called "Reproduction, Reproduction, Reproduction" followed by "Lactation, Lactation, Lactation."

CMOTdibbler Mon 21-Feb-11 14:30:21

The class I went to covered c sections in a lot of detail - the teacher had had three c sections herself so was v good on it (apparently).

halfcaff Mon 21-Feb-11 14:45:17

I haven't read the article as I am allergic to both Twitter and the DM (!) but I must say our NCT teacher was a bit crap and CS was only mentioned as something to be avoided at all costs; ditto for epidurals as they would increase the likelihood of the dreaded CS...was very glad I did the class though, as I have made a lasting friend (11 years on.) We went camping with her and dh and their 4 girls last summer, and we will be meeting up for a drink soon, even though we have both moved out of the area we met in. And we can laugh about the awful teacher and how she would tell people off for laughing, and her dh for falling asleep!

jonicomelately Mon 21-Feb-11 14:49:59

I went to NCT classes and then had an emergency section. I can honestly say I was totally unprepared and in shock and wish the leader had covered sections in some form.

Had I been a different personality I may have felt I'd failed by having to have a section. Luckily, my brain soesn't work that way but I feel sorry for those people who would feel like that.

bronze Mon 21-Feb-11 14:54:18

I've never felt guilt for my crash section. I didn't even know I was supposed to until more recently reading it on here. Why do we allow ourselves to feel guilty? If it was the best thing for us and our babies then surely we should feel pride. My section was fucking scary but I'm proud of the way dh and I handled it all.

theyoungvisiter Mon 21-Feb-11 15:03:21

"If it was the best thing for us and our babies then surely we should feel pride."

Yes - very much agree. I've never had a section but the idea really scares me, I really admire anyone who goes through that for their child's safety. I feel nothing but admiration for my friends underwent one - the idea that you can somehow "will" yourself a vaginal birth if you only believe strongly enough is utter crap.

It's one step away from people who believe that a positive mindset is the only thing you need to recover from cancer.

pointissima Mon 21-Feb-11 15:23:51

I have never seen the point of the NCT or what is wrong with pain relief, caesarians or any of the other medical interventions which have gone a long way to reduce infant nd maternal mortality or generally to make the whole experience less ghastly.

I also loathe the whole "giving birth as an achievement" approach. It is just something which happens as nature dictates and whether one does it "well" or "badly" is largely down to ones physique, position of baby etc etc.

NCT attitude has spread into the NHS. Stupid HV asked after my emcs how I was coping with the "trauma" of not having been alble to have "the full birthing experience". I said that I found it rather easier than I would have found the trauma of losing my baby and/or being dead. This was clearly not the "correct" answer.

TondelayoSchwarzkopf Mon 21-Feb-11 15:25:24

Exactly theyoungvisitor - it's magical thinking.

theyoungvisiter Mon 21-Feb-11 15:32:46

"Stupid HV asked after my emcs how I was coping with the "trauma" of not having been alble to have "the full birthing experience"."

Have to say, this remark strikes me as really spectacularly unhelpful.

Very glad you weren't traumatised by your section Pointissima - but a lot of women are. It's major emergency surgery which carries with it risks for the mother and her future births.

Why on earth is it "stupid" for the NHS to recognise that, and recognise that a number of women DO feel trauma? Good for the HV for asking the question rather than just assuming you were ok.

halfcaff Mon 21-Feb-11 15:54:17

Absolutely youngvisiter. Many people are traumatised by cs and suffer prolonged pain and difficulties and can't hold/feed their babies the way they would like to or look after their other dc etc etc. I would have been very disappointed, but obviously grateful if the cs had been truly necessary as a life-saving intervention. I was very disappointed not to have the homebirth I wanted and the midwives acknowledged this.

FluffyMummy123 Mon 21-Feb-11 15:54:58

i dont giev a fuck about her
and her blardy ring she bleats on about.
shes just bitter its not a wedding ring. wink

MilaMae Mon 21-Feb-11 15:55:58

I've never seen the point of NCT classes either.At the end of the day I follow my consultant's advice thankyou not a class leader who will have never even done a medical examination on anybody let alone me.

My sister did NCT and enjoyed the social side(which any health visitor could organise) but she and her dp were mighty hacked off when pg with twins and they asked for some info on bottle feeding just incase. They were simply met with a steely glare and the subject changed. Considering the amount they payed I think being given half the information on a subject is not on.

FluffyMummy123 Mon 21-Feb-11 15:57:33

oh god any fule know you only do NCT to meet naice posh people

in ours there was a reunion afterwards and ONE freaky woman revealed that her H breastfed to "help with her let down reflex"

we all nodded in an organic way while inside our very core was thinkign NUTTER ALERT

FluffyMummy123 Mon 21-Feb-11 15:58:24

and my mates h got serious giggles during relaxation exercises and was asked to step outside.

we had to visualise pain. i had never ever evr had pain before so i thought about tea.

Galdem Mon 21-Feb-11 16:01:23

Not a big fan of Tory Allsop and don't use Twitter or read the Mail, so no idea what's going on, but I do think the NCT are absolutely shite on c-sections.

I trained as a NCT antenatal teacher a few years ago, and one of the reasons I eventually left the organisation was because of their woeful attitude towards c-section (and interventions in childbirth). Talk about gazing at things through rose-tinted glasses. It was all geared towards 'natural birth = success, anything else =failure' and in the end I just couldn't square it with my own values and beliefs.

It's a shame. I think the NCT is an important organisation (in it's lobbying, 'pressure group' capacity) but I also think it is hideously out of touch and could be so much more than it is.

Galdem Mon 21-Feb-11 16:01:51

its not it's

I only did an NHS class but the midwife didn't talk about c-sections at all. In fact when anyone even asked about interventions she kept saying "we only have time to cover the normal course of labour and birth" hmm

FioFio Mon 21-Feb-11 16:03:34

Message deleted

I thought the whole point of NCT classes was for middle class mummies to meet other middle class mummies to occupy themselves during maternity leave anyway. Anything else you need you can surely get from a book?

beanlet Mon 21-Feb-11 16:08:33

I'm bloody glad I had a CS. A hundred years ago, both my baby and I would have died.

There's a really good reason why there are so many more CS births now, which noone ever seems to mention - we're all having our first babies at older and older ages. Nothing to do with too posh to push - I tried for four hideous days.

FioFio Mon 21-Feb-11 16:10:30

Message deleted

FluffyMummy123 Mon 21-Feb-11 16:10:45

slattern wink
hi fio btw

FioFio Mon 21-Feb-11 16:11:43

Message deleted

TondelayoSchwarzkopf Mon 21-Feb-11 16:13:23

That is true MoonUnitAlpha. Hand over your £150 £200 £250 £300 and take 5 local mummy friends with similar properties, values and outlooks for coffee, GSOH, passive-aggressive competitive parenting and more...

beanlet Mon 21-Feb-11 16:14:04

Yes, I know you might have to have one at any age, I'm talking statistics here.

hunkermunker Mon 21-Feb-11 16:15:27

Is this the same Kirstie Allsopp who did a promo film for SMA a while back, whilst talking about how wonderful bfing was for her?

Oh, yes, I rather think it is.

(The link's been taken down, but you'll get the gist from that thread.)

FioFio Mon 21-Feb-11 16:15:36

Message deleted

beanlet Mon 21-Feb-11 16:21:09

Overall percentage compared over time. It's not me saying this, it's the professor of obstetrics at our local world-renowned research hospital.

FioFio Mon 21-Feb-11 16:26:12

Message deleted

DuelingFanjo Mon 21-Feb-11 17:55:59

I recon I am the oldest and poorest person in my NCT group. Plus I have the smallest house. sad

Oneof4 Mon 21-Feb-11 17:59:01

We covered cs fairly thoroughly in our NCT classes in Jan. I'd signed up for the course expecting to be dictated to on the 'right' and 'wrong' way to give birth / feed etc... but actually felt that I was given a fairly balanced, factual response to questions and it just kept coming back to 'doing what works for you' - i.e. if bf doesn't work then don't do it, if you need pain relief here are the various options, if you need a cs here's what to expect.

The whole course felt like I was being given back the right to decide how I wanted the experience to be. After months of being treated like a number by most of the (admittedly over worked) midwives I've seen, it was reassuring. Just need the baby to make an appearance now...

MigratingCoconuts Mon 21-Feb-11 18:11:55

Neither the NCT or the NHS did any part of a class on this. My first Child was an emergency c-section.

My only feelings about it now is that I am glad we live now and here where this sort of intervention is possible. Two thirds of women used to die from complications arising from child birth...

At the time, I spent a lot of time trying to work out what happened. NCT books were very useful.

I had my second child naturally. I was surprised about how difficult this was to do. The hospital would only 'allow' it if they 'let' me. I had more check ups.

Personally, having done both, I think we are lucky to have the choice!

strawberrycake Mon 21-Feb-11 18:21:46

Sorry but the post who called someone a nutter for allowing her husband to help with letdown? wtf? And what- my baby couldn't suckle, I dried up before I began. DH helped and I could at least express for 8 weeks which massively helped him as he's dairy allergic and has weight gain issues. I really don't give a shit about being a little 'weird' in the privacy of my own home if it has implications for my child's health.

'I recon I am the oldest and poorest person in my NCT group. Plus I have the smallest house.' DF I'm not the oldest but same here for poorest and smallest house! Also, despite not actually being particularly lentil-weavery I am the closest to a lentil weaver in my group!

DuelingFanjo Mon 21-Feb-11 18:30:01

Same here, as far as I can tell none of the others are co-sleeping for example.

Jacanne Mon 21-Feb-11 18:54:13

I think a lot depends on your NCT instructor. I was told all the interventions that could lead to c-section and lo and behold - they were right - almost like a road map to my first. I think what they try to do is give you the ammunition to say hold it, slow down to the health care professionals - wish I had taken that advice a little more to heart. I was called back to the class and could at least share this with them, showed them how to bath my baby too smile.

Never was the natural way pushed though - just lots of info about various choices and what they could mean.

crystalglasses Mon 21-Feb-11 19:02:48

I had a trial labour followed by emcs and like Unrulysun I would be dead otherwise. however back on the ward when I told one of the nurses she said 'what a shame' which upset me, plus i was on a ward full o of first time mothers and a researcher was asking them all about their birthing experiences but left me out as I hadn't had a natural birth.

Once I was home and attended a mother and baby group there was negative talk about women who had CS so i've always felt I needed to explain that I had an emcs. In fact I had worst of both worlds in that I had 48 hours of labour followed by a emcs

jcscot Mon 21-Feb-11 20:11:49

When I was pregnant with my first child, I called the local NCT lady to enquire about classes. When she asked if I was planning a natural birth, I replied that I was having a planned section for medical reasons. her answer (and I quote) was "We don't do classes for people like you." in the sniffiest tone possible.

Never bothered with the NCT after that.

bibbitybobbityhat Mon 21-Feb-11 23:31:09

C/sections not covered in my nct classes 10 years ago. Infact, when we went for our meet-up at the teacher's house about 6 weeks after the births, not one of the six of us in the class had anything like a straightforward birth. We were all first timers and 30+.

TondelayoSchwarzkopf Mon 21-Feb-11 23:46:49

My NCT class birth experiences were totally representative

1 x HB - water birth
1 x EMCS
1 x Forceps
1 x Kiwi
1 x Ventouse (ME!)
1 x hospital natural birth

Straight from central casting!

bibbitybobbityhat Mon 21-Feb-11 23:53:46


Mine were 1 x hb (but then had to go in with retained placenta)

1 x failed hb and venthouse

1 x failed hb and c/section

1 x crash section

1 x planned hospital birth and venthouse

1 x planned hospital birth without intervention

So - tell a lie - one of us had the kind of birth she'd planned.

beanlet Tue 22-Feb-11 06:35:31

I'm with you crystalglasses . Let's promise ourselves we won't feel guilty for having the operations that saved our and our babies' lives, but thrilled that we are still here and that our babies are healthy and happy. Mine is snoring away next to me right now.

My NCT classes spent one entire session on sections and what happens, who is present, etc. I felt that we received a lot of helpful information, and while the slant is on doing things naturally (surely you know that when you sign up for NCT classes?!) the section stuff was pretty neutral.

Out of 9 of us, one had an EMCS, one a home birth, two of us were induced for medical reasons and the rest were pretty uncomplicated spontaneous births in MWLUs or hospital.

Twizzy Tue 22-Feb-11 09:52:33

Isn't that the point? The NCT are teaching for informed choice. They're not telling you how to do things, just what options there are available to you. At the end of the day, your birth is about you, well, mine were, not about what some person told me to do. I think if anyone feels guilty about having a c section or bottle feeding then it's their own guilt, not anyone elses, I don't feel guilt for bottle feeding two of mine at all, I don't feel guilty for my epidural either and I'm sure I wouldn't feel guilty for a section had I had one.

At the end of the day, Kirstie Allsopp has ishoos that are her own if she feels stigmatised for having a c section and for that I feel sad, nowt else!

Normantebbit Tue 22-Feb-11 09:57:50

I've had three c sections and couldn't give a monkey's as have more improtant things to worry about.. so should Kirtie

lillibet1 Tue 22-Feb-11 14:25:52

i wanted a natural home birth and was almost pushed to this at NCT I'm sure it wasn't meant but thats how it felt. it was though what I wanted. I ended up having to have an emergency c section due to fetal distress after 26 1'2 hours of established labor and only 4 cm dilation. when I went back to NCt afterwards was made to feel like iI should have worked harder did something wrong etc

NoodleBrain Tue 22-Feb-11 15:13:57

I'm afraid I didn't "do" NCT at all after I met so many mums that had and seemed to be under so much pressure to be perfect...

...perhaps I wouldn't have needed an emergency c-section if i'd been "better informed" - perhaps we weren't really both that close to popping off and a lesson on balls and pools would have made all the difference...

and as some of my old friends say I really was so lucky to not have had to "do that whole birth thing"

It took me ages to recover and I missed a lot by being incapacitated, but I'm really pleased I have my little girl...its just taking even longer to get over the inferiority complex and contemplation of a second...forget it!!!

BramblyHedge Tue 22-Feb-11 16:40:36

Our NCT covered csec by getting out a Playmobil operating theatre set and talking about how many people there might be in the room and their roles. This was of no use to me when I ended up with an emcs.

MontanaM Tue 22-Feb-11 22:46:09

re: asking couple to share birth experience. i am one of those parents who faciliates NCT classes and had an emergency c-birth followed by vaginal births. i do cover c-birth. as previously stated, i ask couples to come when their babies are about 6-8 weeks old and I base my 'invites' on 1. are both partners (if applicable) able and willing to speak in front of a group? 2. are both partners going to open up to the group without glossing over or frightening people 3. is the baby up for a visit to such a large group. I intentionally try to bring in couples who have laboured & who have had positive experiences overall whether they give birth unmedicated or medicated, after induction or spontaneous labour, by vagina or abdominally.

one problem for me about perceived stigma relates to language as well... if babies weren't 'delivered' but born and if women weren't 'sectioned' but gave birth by Caesarean it would be a sign of respect to mothers who are generous enough to give the world new people. after my own caesarean i was not stigmatized--my 6 maternal cousins were all born by Caesarean--but i did resent being 'a section' or just another 'patient'.

jcscot Tue 22-Feb-11 23:00:26

"one problem for me about perceived stigma relates to language as well... if babies weren't 'delivered' but born and if women weren't 'sectioned' but gave birth by Caesarean it would be a sign of respect to mothers who are generous enough to give the world new people."

That's a good point, actually. Even though we (probably) don't think about the language we use, subconsciously words form our impressions and prejudices. When I had my third child recently, an assistant at my sons nursery asked "Did you have the baby yourself?". Knowing that she was if I had a natural or ceasarian birth and slightly annoyed by her choice of words, I feigned ignorance and said "I didn't use a surrogate mother, if that's what you're asking". She replied that she was asking if I'd had a section. I changed the subject and refused to answer.

I am not ashamed of having a section and I have never bought into the idea that one method of birth is better or worse than another. Had my medical condition allowed it, I would have been like the majority of women and would have gone through labour. It wasn't really an option for me, so I had elective sections. I think that pain relief, sections et al as well as better understanding of the natural birth process have all contributed to the decline in maternal and neo-natal morbidity and, therefore, we shouldn't judge others just because they had a different birth to us.

I don't think that having a drug-free, intervention-free labour somehow makes the birth more "valid" than having any medical intervention from pain relief to a section. Surely the birth is only a few hours of your life and, as such, is a minor part of becoming a parent? For me, holding my three babies for the first time was the best experience - not how they arrived in the world.

MummyRosiePosie Wed 23-Feb-11 20:12:03

This is not fair.

There are so many NCT members and volunteers working so hard and giving so much of their time to help parents in their community and to raise money to support parents across the UK, then a story like this comes along and gives them a bad name. Somebody who has never heard of the NCT before who may have supported them in the future may now not because of this. "Celebrities" should think more carefully before they criticize a charity because it just poo-poos decades of the hard word in one minute.

crystalglasses Thu 24-Feb-11 16:49:44

My mother had 2 cs and so I wasn't at all concerned about having one myself. It was afterwards that I was on the receiving end of some negative remarks and had I not been stronger I could easily have become depressed about it. There was definitely an element of boasting amongst my acquaintenances about who had given birth the quickest or without any intervention. There were also comments about how mums who had cs found it more difficult to bond or bf. I bonded straightaway and had no difficulty in bfing.

LittleMumSmall Thu 24-Feb-11 19:59:23

Our NCT instructor was great and covered c-sections in detail. I seem to remember there was a 'what do you know about births' questionnaire that we filled in as a group both before and after the instructor's talk and it was quite an eye-opener! I had taken it for granted that I was relatively well-informed about different kinds of birth, pain relief options, hospital protocol etc, but I learned a staggering amount. I think there was a bias towards trying to do things 'the natural way' but the instructor had four children of her own and was definitely not a judgey-pants! So, a vote of confidence for NCT here, but I can understand experience probably depends a lot on the instructor.

Still firm friends with the group mums, too - half of us are on second babies now and finding out there is a lot more to life than birth grin

MotherofHobbit Sat 26-Feb-11 09:23:22

I ended up with an emcs and can't say I felt a failure. After 28 hours of labour I just felt relieved when it was recommended. End in sight grin

Our NCT classes only covered c-sections in a very basic and negative way:
We had to discuss a number of scenarios ending in a c-section, and then the teacher told us why it wasn't necessary in each of them.

We were told that women had been giving birth naturally for thousands of years and that births were being unnecessarily medicalised.

Of course, women have also been dying in childbirth for thousands of years and the great turnaround in the last hundred years or so is due mostly to medical advances, not NCT relaxation techniques.

There is no doubt that a natural birth is preferable but sometimes natural isn't possible. I am tremendously grateful for living in an age where medical professionals were standing by in case things went wrong.

I think most mothers who have c-sections tend to feel more defensive than guilty. You do get asked to explain why it was necessary.

I also bottle fed and this wasn't covered at all. For medical reasons I couldn't breastfeed (I got no milk). A lot of women are in similar situations, and I think the NCT could have covered the basics of bottles without losing the message that breast is best.

MotherofHobbit Sat 26-Feb-11 09:26:54

grin at "Did you have the baby yourself?"

I trained and worked as an NCT teacher recently. I would make the following observations...
Teaching on C section is a crucial part of the teaching for all NCT classes, usually as a role play.
OFTEN feedback from classes suggests that there is little emphasis on the post natal period hmm when in fact there is a good proportion of time (1/3 to a half) spent on this... it is my observation that parents only remember the certain things. They are mostly focused on the birth and can't see after. They tend to focus on natural birth and b/feeding and not necessarily on the parts of the course they think WON'T apply to them.
There is a tendency to try and keep a positive but realistic outlook on birth and parenting. The experience of birth has a huge psychological element to it and women do not need to go into it feeling scared and feeling that medical intervention is inevitable.
Reasons for choosing couples to come back are varied - the choice is based on personal qualities and how they will behave in the group. Again, it isn't good practice to invite back a couple who are likely to tell horror stories with relish, for example. Nor is it good practice to bring back someone who has had a traumatic experience - particularly so soon after the birth. The teacher cannot be sure that the new mother/father is in a position to speak about the birth without getting upset - not good for them or for the listening pregnant couples.
TBH pregnant women hear horror stories about birth all the time; the NCT classes can be a place to balance the cultural idea that birth is horrible painful and needs a doctor for it to happen. That's only ONe skewed perspective and pregnant women should hear other perspectives too - about home births, no intervention, water births, birthing centres, alternative pain relief etc. Not because that's the ideal but because that's also possible (not necessarily for all, but for some...)

The seemingly inexorable rise in medical intervention in birth is something that we should recognise but not necessarily accept...
TBH (again!) I think this idea that the NCT "seem" to give this particular message is a reflection of the messages absorbed and internalised by the person receiving the message, rather than anything else.
FWIW I had a C section followed by a VBAC (forceps) and got NOWHERE NEAR the birthing centre/pool grin

vj32 Sat 26-Feb-11 13:13:42

I was considering NCT, but glad I didn't now. We have 6 hours of classes basic on the NHS in my area plus possibly some extras.

The idea of covering C-sections by doing a role-play! Fills me with dread. I'd love someone to explain the thinking behind it.

I was also put off by the anti-social/anti-pregnancy hours in my area. All the courses included a full day - 9-5. So my husband couldn't go and I would be exhausted. If I could honestly pay attention and participate in anything for that long I wouldn't have had to be signed off/take maternity leave ASAP. So I didn't have a choice in the end really.

Loads of people I know have said it was fantastic for making friends. But I can find other groups for much less money than that.

bibbitybobbityhat Sat 26-Feb-11 13:26:36

Yes, role-playing the c-section scenario - wtf?

Ooid Sat 26-Feb-11 13:46:54

I'm kind of confused as to why people feel they've been set up for natural birth and not told the downsides or realistic odds.

The information is right there.

I am no fan of the NCT (I think it's done great work but the classes exist now as a status symbol - I would rethink this if they genuinely worked at providing education for those on low incomes) but apart from a few rogue teachers they don't give you a bad product. They aren't setting you up for anything. They try to give you tools to work things towards a best case scenario. Sometimes this is possible and sometimes it isn't (medical reasons or bad care get in the way) but I would be really surprised if any NCT teacher told you there was only one way to give birth and anything else was a failure. Where does the feeling that that's what they actually mean come from?

TondelayoSchwarzkopf Sat 26-Feb-11 14:49:19

I disagree Ooid - I don't think the NCT is hugely evidence based (if that's what you mean by tools). They sell homeopathy kits in their catalogue!

IME - and I had a very good NCT teacher and a good experience in the classes and still in touch 2+ years later - there is a lot of discussion of the risks of intervention but very little focus on the risks of non-intervention or the benefits e.g. epidurals are said by NCT to increase the chances of a c-section - in fact the jury is out on this and there is strong research that says that it makes no difference. There is evidence that women who have had epidurals have reduced bladder & pelvic floor problems later in life - but this is not mentioned.

On a more positive note.

Re: role play - all the couples I've known who've had c-sections have found this really useful. You don't have to 'act' - you just are assigned all the different roles in the theatre and given an explanation why they are there. This is to reassure people that when 10-15 people in scrubs suddenly appear that it is normal procedure rather than a crash or emergency situation. And then they talk through what all the people do.

Ooid Sat 26-Feb-11 15:03:00

FWIW I think the homeopathy kits plays into the status symbol aspect of it. Alternative therapies being largely a matter for the monied middle classes.

(Cue post by person of little means who visits a homeopath weekly, MN being what it is...)

The idea of covering C-sections by doing a role-play! Fills me with dread. I'd love someone to explain the thinking behind it.

OK I'll try
The idea is that rather than being told about what goes on in the OT, the people in the class are assigned roles and the teacher gives ideas about what the individuals might be doing in the OT during the operation.
It is one of the activities that I had the best feedback about - it was considered really useful to have an idea of what to expect in the OT when the time came; I personally found it very useful


The NCT's training is very much evidence based; the classes certainly should be. The products, though, are a different matter.

Ooid Sat 26-Feb-11 23:21:43

If it's going to be evidence based then the things they sell ought to be too, or they compromise their integrity.
There is no place for homeopathy kits within an organisation that wishes to provide evidence-based education.
If they're not that fussed, then fine.

But the NCT isn't just an education based charity. It provides education (which is evidence based) and it also provides a number of other products and services. As a charity it needs to raise money to reduce the costs (e.g.) of the classes it provides and one way is to provide a variety of (ethical, tested) products. FWIW homeopathy is also available on the NHS together with other CAT. The NHS funds such treatments because of the evidence that such treatments, despite being unproven scientifically, can nevertheless have therapeutic value for patients in terms.
The NCT (like other bodies) should be providing pregnant women and their supporters with the facts and letting make up their own minds. It's about empowerment - giving women as much control as possible over their birth experience, because that really DOES make a difference to outcomes, in every sense.

nailak Sun 27-Feb-11 20:20:56

whats wrong with homeopathy kits? I am from an ethinic low income, houseing benefit claiming family in east london and i used aromatherapy in my hb and would reccomend it t others, as it worked for me.

for me going in to my first labour i had a see how it goes approach i didnt feel guilty or bad for using pain relief (pethadine) but i did have problems with bf and after researching i found out it could be due to pethadine, i also realised that the way they treated me in birth made it more difficult for me, such as constant monitoring, made to lie on back, lack of gravity meaning longer harder pushing stage, them wanting to cut me due to that, also they didnt let me eat and drink and stuff, i had read all the info, but i skipped out the parts that i thought wouldnt happen to me!

because of this i chose to have only gas and air with 2nd birth coz i wante to be awake! and 3rd i ended up with an unassissted hb, and tbh it was the most amazing magical thing i had ever done in my life, i never got why all these poeple were always going on about the wonders of natural birth until i experienced it! the thought of that birth makes me want to have another baby!

but the thing about going against medical advice, well sometimes you can and its for the best for you if you do. for example after my hb my baby weighed under 2.5k so they wanted me to go to hospital, but knowing i had small babys usually i had looked up hb's and small babies and read about causes of small babies and had decided before hand that because in my family the babies are generally small, and people of my ethnciity have a trend of having smaller babies that i woulodnt go to hospital in this case, the mw phoned the neonatal consultant to who advised me to go in, but i said no, and the mw secretly told me that she agreed with my decision, and could tell it was an informed decision, but she was required by her job to advise me to go to hosipital although her personal feelings were we were best of at home.

when it comes to birth following the medical advice is not always what is right for you.

RitaMorgan Sun 27-Feb-11 20:40:38

Homeopathy and aromatherapy aren't the same things - homeopathy is water/sugar pills that are claimed to have a "memory" of molecules of a substance.

jentle Sat 05-Mar-11 13:45:32

I thought that you might all be interested to see our latest film - the Natural Caesarean - a woman centred technique
It would be great to know your thoughts.

yummytummy Sat 05-Mar-11 14:03:22

c-sections were not covered in my nct class at all. someone asked about what could happen if they did end up needing one but were told that was "very unlikely"

feel quite resentful at how little the classes prepared you for all eventualities. also a strange mix of people so we never really gelled with each other and didnt stay in touch after a few months.

no info on assissted deliveries or episiotomies or tearing etc and the only time i ever saw forceps was when they were about to be used on me.

no info on bottle feeding as obviously everyone will take to breastfeeding just like that.

all in all a total waste of money and would never recommend nct to anyone.

How strange, yummytummy, all those things were covered at out NCT class, though not necessarily in detail. Except for forceps. I saw those only because the midwife taking the hospital class offered to show them - dh and I were the only ones who took her up on the offer. Apparently most parents-to-be don't want to see forceps because they are so scared of them, but TBH it was reassuring to see them - they weren't nearly as large as I imagined, and had I had to have them used on me, I would have been less frightened for having seen them beforehand. I can imagine how worrying it must have been for you, not knowing what was about to be shoved up your fanjo.

bluebutterflies Mon 07-Mar-11 21:55:49

My NCT class provided me with some useful advice and good friends. My teacher was clearly anti-caesarian though, almost boasting about having had her two children naturally, with only gas & air.

I ended up having a EMCS, after failure to progress. For my second baby I did lots of research about whether to have an ELCS. I chose to, because even though C-sections have their risks, I found that there are a number of long term benefits to NOT giving birth vaginally (e.g. lesser chance of incontinence & organ prolapse).

I did wonder some weeks later why only the virtues of 'natural' birth were ever discussed and a c-section was considerd almost a dirty word.

Ok, most people wouldn't choose a c-section for their first birth without trying for a vaginal birth beforehand, but that doesn't mean that there aren't benefits. Why can't birth discussions be more balanced and inform people of the positives and negative of all methods of childbirth?

yummytummy Mon 07-Mar-11 22:12:56

hi prettycandle, sounds like you were lucky. maybe it just depends on the area you are in for the nct class and the teacher but i still feel like we didnt have half the info which would have been useful and it was a real waste of money and time.

also bluebutterflies i agree there should def be more balanced discussions and more info on all eventualities without a sense of bias towards one way or another.

makes me very sad that so many women are made to feel inadequate when they have had to have a section for whateever reason.

Hulababy Mon 07-Mar-11 22:18:29

No dea about NCT classes as didn't know anything about them when I was pg.

Did go to NHS classes at the hsopital and they did not cover c section, apart from very very fleetingly in passing. No information at all and not that much done on induction either.

Made me very much unprepared for my failed induction resulting in c section.

k1tt Tue 08-Mar-11 00:06:14

How refreshing to hear someone speak their mind re the NCT!

I attended NCT classes ahead of the birth of my first child some 2 years hence. A word of warning to all out there - many people giving out advice at the NCT have limited (if any) medical training and so it is important to seek out medical reasoning behind procedures. I left NCT classes believing that staying on my feet during labour would increase the speed of my dilation - I was informed by my midwife after 24 hrs of labouring with baby going nowhere that this had in fact caused my cervix to swell and prevented dilation. Whilst NCT has it's place - please don't take their word as gospel - be open minded and have the safety of yourself and your child at the forefront of your mind during labour. Bad advice led me to have more medical intervention in the long run NCT be warned!

If anyone from the NCT is reading this I would strongly advise either medically trained professionals should be running your courses or should at least have a greater degree of input. As the courses are lead by what mums want to know often key areas of advice are missed leading to a skewed and potentially badly advised knowledge base.

NoodleBrain Mon 03-Oct-11 12:30:52

Weirdly that afternoon we made a new baby that we're expecting in a couple of weeks...possibly by c-section due to positioning but hey...!! (and still no NCT classess)...

FantasticVoyage Mon 03-Oct-11 14:29:21

At our NCT course for parents-to-be, the instructor did her level best to promote whalesong, aromatherapy and ethnic throws draped around the delivery suite as the optimum method for pain relief during labour.

So much so that I was compelled to pointedly comment on the hippy bullshit in order that Mrs V didn't get guilt-tripped into a painful and potentially dangerous birth aided only by essence of lavender.

But saying that, the instructor was very knowledgeable about all the other forms of pain relief so when things started to go wrong at hospital as the birth plan went out of the window we weren't scared about what was happening around us.

All in all, you have to be aware of what their ideal is. They may be hippies but they're a damn sight more useful than that vile Tory harridan any day of the week.

cookcleanerchaufferetc Mon 03-Oct-11 19:24:07

NCT lost me when they kept referring to my cervix being a Rose bud and as I would dilate it was the bud blooming ......

1944girl Tue 04-Oct-11 02:25:06

Ihave just read all these posts.If anyone wants to know what I am doing on my PC at this ungodly hour it is because I cant sleep because of family problems.
I am so pleased I gave birth 41 and 39 years ago.Both were what is now termed crash ceasarians.I gave birth twice.Without my first crash ceasarian there would not have been another one as my DS1 and I would have been dead.No one told me I was a failure and the thought never entered my head.
I never went to any NCT classes-yes they did exist then but my problem against them was money, the lack of.
I also bottle fed both my children.Failed at breast feeding the first time as was too ill.Consequently never gave it a thought after second birth.
NCT would hate me,but at my time of life cannot care less.Life after childbirth, however traumatic the births were,has given me a few knocks.
Nothing against NCT but if they want to hear from an oldie they are welcome.
So long girls until my next rant.

pippitysqueakity Tue 04-Oct-11 05:00:19

NCT lost me when was told pain in labour could be just perceived as a state of mind. Both my pregnancies ended in c sections, and thank goodness the technology exists to deal with that. I laboured, and bore my babies myself, and 50 years ago, none of us would be alive. Why would I feel guilty? I had the whole birth experience, my birth experience, no less valid than any one else's.

HerdOfTinyElephants Tue 04-Oct-11 07:50:32

My NCT class (London, 7 years ago) covered c-section pretty well, together with all the pain relief options, and the instructor gently suggested to us as a group of rather gung-ho first-timers that we shouldn't rule out the possibility of drugs in advance because we didn't know how we'd feel when we got there. She'd had two drug-free home births herself but never even mentioned that in passing until the very end of the last class when we more-or-less dragged it out of her.

Out of the six of us four had c-sections (one planned for breech baby, three unplanned) and one had a ventouse delivery; there was only one fairly uncomplicated vaginal birth. No one was made to feel like a failure, in fact quite the reverse.

I think there are good and bad NCT instructors.

shagmundfreud Wed 05-Oct-11 21:47:00

NCT info that I have seen tells women that many c-sections are probably avoidable. The Royal College of Midwives, the World Health Organisation and the Royal College of Obs and Gynae are largely with them on this.

They also point out the link between induction/epidural and hospital births and higher rates of instrumental and operative delivery.

As far as I can see, knowing this doesn't stop many of their clients trotting along to the labour wards of hospitals with colossally high rates of c-sections and a poor mother/midwife ratio, 'just in case' they need an epidural. Or having an induction they probably don't need. And then they have every intervention going and blame the NCT for being natural birth nazis and making them feel like a failure.

I didn't do NCT classes but I'm blardly grateful for the campaigning and research they've done to make birth more humane for women in the UK. If fewer than half of women in some hospitals are getting through birth without the aid of surgery or instruments then thank god someone is stepping up to the plate and pointing out that it's fucking madness and it doesn't (usually) have to be like that.

"I laboured, and bore my babies myself, and 50 years ago, none of us would be alive."

Can't comment on your particular case, but the c/s rate in the 1950's in the UK was 2%. It certainly wasn't the case that one in four mothers or babies died in childbirth.

"I would strongly advise either medically trained professionals should be running your courses "

That would be a bit pointless, given that they are not giving medical advice.

"I left NCT classes believing that staying on my feet during labour would increase the speed of my dilation - I was informed by my midwife after 24 hrs of labouring with baby going nowhere that this had in fact caused my cervix to swell and prevented dilation. "

Well - it does generally speed dilation. Which is why the NICE guidelines on intrapartum care advise that all mothers should be supported to mobilise in labour. What usually causes a cervix to swell is unproductive pushing on an anterior lip. Not being upright per se.

1944girl Wed 05-Oct-11 22:43:38

I did midwifery training in the 1960s when as stated in my previous post, c-section rate was very low.I did not know of any mother who died through not having a c-section,but the effects of instrumental vaginal deliveries were in some cases horrific.Most could have been prevented if the birth had been by ceasarian.
Also alot of babies were damaged by the high rate of forceps births.These ranged from facial injuries to brain damage.Most breech babies were born vaginally and some had brain damage by a too quick delivery of the head, or had nerve paralysis in one or both arms if the arms were lying alongside of the head.Today these are prevented by a planned ceasarian for a breech presentation.Please correct me anyone if I am wrong.
In my case my DS1 and I would have died. He went into transverse position after my membranes ruptured.His head was not engaged when I went into labour, because of my small narrow pelvis.It was when he passed meconium and my uterus had moulded around him(sorry if this scary),that there was an almighty dash to theatre.Then the GA nearly killed us both.
These complications should not happen now.I was left alone for a great part of labour, until these things happened.The only form of foetal monitoring then was the trumpet shape foetal stethescope, which the MWs listened to the foetal heart rate by applying to your bump.Your contractions were timed by their watches.
Thank God for modern advances.

shagmundfreud Wed 05-Oct-11 23:02:39

"Thank God for modern advances."

Yes - but it's a shame that the reduction in poor neonatal outcomes has been achieved at the cost of huge numbers of avoidable surgeries. sad

I repeat - in some hospitals in the UK fewer than HALF of women are having normal deliveries. Tens of thousands of women are going home every year to care for their new babies while recovering from major birth injuries caused by abdominal incisions and by the use of instruments. I don't see this state of affairs as a 'great modern advance'.

Actually it's a bit of a dogs dinner. Where else in our health service would be tolerate so many healthy people having expensive, painful and avoidable treatment?

"Today these are prevented by a planned ceasarian for a breech presentation.Please correct me anyone if I am wrong."

Today scans would tell us which breech babies could safely be delivered vaginally and which would be better delivered abdominally. Well, they would do if a flawed trial of vaginal breech vs c/s for breech in 2000 hadn't resulted in a wholesale recommendation that all women with breech babies in the UK be offered (read 'pressured into') a c/s, so that there are now not enough experienced practitioners to offer these women a safe choice in how they deliver. Now that the original trial has been largely discredited and superceded by better designed studies showing that with careful selection and with an experienced doctor or midwife, mothers carrying breech babies are just as likely to have a good outcome following a vaginal birth as following a c/s.

"The only form of foetal monitoring then was the trumpet shape foetal stethescope, which the MWs listened to the foetal heart rate by applying to your bump.Your contractions were timed by their watches."

At least this type of monitoring required them to be in the room with you, unlike continuous electronic monitoring which allows busy midwives to leave mothers alone for long periods of time and still claim to be monitoring their labours, something which is linked to higher rates of c/s in healthy mothers, without any improvement in neonatal outcomes. sad

SoylentClean Wed 05-Oct-11 23:26:13

I think that the problem with the NCT is that your experience of them can vary greatly depending on who you get leading your classes.

I moved half way through our classes so did some in my old town and some in my new town and the difference was massive. So I can well believe how some say the NCT are awful, irresponsible, pushing the 'natural' way and so on and others will think just the opposite.

1944girl Thu 06-Oct-11 13:05:39

Thanks for replyShagmundfreud

GenevieveHawkings Thu 06-Oct-11 20:03:11

If the NCT is of the same mindset as the sort of women you see on "Home Birth Diaries" then I daresay it does indeed make women who have c-sections feel like failures.

A woman on "Home Birth Diaries" actually said the other day "I know that people say that all you should be worried about it having a healthy baby but I don't look at it like that, I'd feel cheated if I couldn't have a natural birth".

She got her natural birth in the paddling pool in her front room so of course she felt incredibly successful (and smug) by the end of the programme.

slippyshoes Fri 04-Jan-13 10:57:25

I completely agree with Kirsty. Our NCT class was a complete joke with a patronising woman offering out of date and dangerously inaccurate information (as confirmed by the qualified doctors attending the course). No advice on c-sections, bottle feeding etc but plenty of talk about the evils of the medical profession, midwives and doctors ‘out there to get you’ with their evil epidurals, fetal monitoring and injections to deliver placenta and the most evil of all: the c-section. One of the ladies was told afterwards by the teacher that she had ‘failed’ to give birth naturally as she had to have an emergency section due to placental abruption! And don’t even get me started on the roasting one of the mums got when she told she was planning to bottlefeed her baby...

I thought about reporting the teacher to the NCT but after hearing similar stories from some of my friends about their NCT courses decided just to write off the experience, especially as all of us who attended the course were intelligent enough to ignore what the teacher told us and we all laugh about the ridiculousness of it now.

I’m sure there are some very good, responsible NCT teachers out there but as an organisation it really needs to sort itself out so that the courses offered are standardised as to their format and content and provide up to date, accurate and balanced information by well informed individuals.

And by the way, I breastfed, baby led weaned etc. Not that it should be relevant to any of this.

TameGaloot Fri 04-Jan-13 11:13:08

Old thread
Didn't realise until I came across a post that sounded like me
Then realised it was me

Doraemon Fri 04-Jan-13 11:22:41

slippyshoes I'm really sorry you had such a disappointing experience of antenatal classes but please do contact NCT if you feel your antenatal teacher was not doing a good job. I absolutely agree that NCT courses should provide up to date, accurate and balanced information, and if this isn't happening than NCT needs to know so that something can be done, but how are they to know if you don't give any feedback?

Absoluteeightiesgirl Fri 04-Jan-13 12:47:06

NCT were an absolute waste of time. Full of smugs who would rather eat their own arm than have any intervention.

theoriginalandbestrookie Fri 04-Jan-13 13:10:01

I have mixed feelings about this. On the one hand it just feels like KA whipping up a bit of publicity for herself because maybe its a bit quiet on the old programme presenting front, on the other hand I do feel she has a bit of a point.

I attended NCT classes and unfortunately although the people were lovely didn't make any lasting pals as they were all on the other side of town. We did cover Csections and as I ended up with an emergency one did get some useful advice about that which was to ask for time to make a decision about it as DH was anti and I was prepared to do whatever the medical professionals deemed necessary

I did feel there was a bit of a subtext about natural birth being best and I do remember feeling a bit jealous of a couple of the other mums who managed water births ( DH enjoyed the tip about bringing his swimming trunks and had to be coerced out of the pool once it became obvious that gas and a pool wasn't going to hack it for pain relief)

I also ended up bottle feeding because DS had a tongue tie and I couldn't cope and I felt enormously guilty about that.

Something they did do which was brilliant was arrange coffee mornings for new mums in the area, oh that and the sales grin

tiktok Fri 04-Jan-13 13:16:16

Slippyshoes - it's essential to complain to NCT direct if you think the teacher was giving dangerous and outdated information - you can't assume the doctors on the course are right about this, but your complaint deserves to be dealt with.

I am an NCT breastfeeding counsellor and part of my role is to deliver a breastfeeding session. Occasionally, I get a question from a medical person in the group, because something I have said conflicts with something they have learnt. I am absolutely fine about that, as while I am confident with my information, I'm not perfect and can get things wrong (though actually I can't remember any time when someone in the class was right on a technical matter and I was wrong....but it could happen some day).

I have never heard of an NCT course omitting c-section, but it's true we don't cover much on formula feeding, for sound reasons. This is transparent - the session is 'the breastfeeding session'.

If you have concerns and complaints, why post to mumsnet only? NCT deals with complaints and will certainly thoroughly investigate any reports of inaccurate/dangerous info and judgmental attitudes. I don't understand why you would not do this. You are a customer. You paid for the course. It's like anything else you buy!

Catriona100 Fri 04-Jan-13 13:24:59

Yes, she is right, the NCT class made me feel like a failure when I ended up having to have a c-section (like maybe I should have just kept on trying for a vaginal birth).
But that's nothing to how bad you feel if you try and fail to breast feed. The phrase "doing the best for your child" kept going round in my head and I felt like I had failed at a mother whilst still on the starting blocks.
10 years later, i can just about rationalise all this but only because I have dedicated years to doing everything I can for my son.

tiktok Fri 04-Jan-13 13:25:42

theoriginal, sorry you had a less than good experience. But lets take your points:

"the people were lovely didn't make any lasting pals as they were all on the other side of town."
How is that something NCT can do anything about?!

" We did cover Csections and as I ended up with an emergency one did get some useful advice about that which was to ask for time to make a decision about it as DH was anti and I was prepared to do whatever the medical professionals deemed necessary"
That sounds good and helpful.

"I did feel there was a bit of a subtext about natural birth being best"
Was this the class members or the teacher? Did the teacher explain that there are sound health reasons why a straightforward birth with no surgery/intervention is preferable and that it is what most women want? Most women come to NCT classes wanting a straightforward birth that they recover from speedily and in good health. That's not a 'subtext' but a fact. There is no 'moral' superiority about it smile

" and I do remember feeling a bit jealous of a couple of the other mums who managed water births "
Your jealousy is not something NCT can prevent - but feelings about the birth and after the birth can be talked about and resolved, and NCT has postnatal groups that deal specifically with this.

"I also ended up bottle feeding because DS had a tongue tie and I couldn't cope and I felt enormously guilty about that."
Again, NCT cannot do anything to change your feelings....I hope you were assured that breastfeeding counsellors understand the complexity of women's feelings around feeding, we don't judge, we know the sadness that can come with breastfeeding that does not work out, but we don't cause it.

Mrsrudolphduvall Fri 04-Jan-13 13:34:31

I turned up to my first NCT class (having paid, cheque cashed) to be told they were over booked and there was no roomshock

And when dd was 2 months old I was invited to anNCT coffee morning, where I was asked to leave as I was bottle feeding. shock

Perriwinkle Fri 04-Jan-13 13:40:50

I think that the NCT generally has a reputation for being run by a bunch of lentil weavers. There will ultimately be variations between the way the material they disseminate across the land is delivered depending on individual tutors and some will be more hardline than others but generally I'd say that the NCT has an agenda to promote natural birth and breastfeeding as the ideal. If you demur from this, I don't think you'd really fit in, or would be particularly welcome.

If the stuff the NCT peddle makes women who have c-sections and bottle feed feel like failures then I'm sure the NCT thinks, "if the cap fits". Whether women who have c-sections and bottle feed allow themselves to feel like failures of course is another thing entirely.

Personally, I'd stick to NHS classes, reading around/watching TV/videos etc and the subject/issues and informing myself that way and sharing experiences with other woman. You won't go far wrong with that.

NCT is far too political for me.

nickelbabylyinginamanger Fri 04-Jan-13 13:41:46

I would imagine that the point she is trying to put across her view that she's been made to feel a failure because of her c-section is because she never "fails" at anything she tries.

i think it's more her personality than the NCT's standpoint - they encourage women to get the birth they want and deserve - often having to battle health professionals. but they wouldn't blast someone for having a c-section.

it's not failure - it's just a way of getting the baby out safely.

kirsty has the kind of personality where everything has to be perfect. so if her vision of a perfect birth was scuppered by the c-section then she's probably got a lot of ill-feeling about it and she needs to seek help to close that in her own mind.
it doesn't mean that her c-sections were in any way failing herself or her body, and certainly not failing her children! but that might be how she views it and is struggling with it.

janey68 Fri 04-Jan-13 13:44:48

Very old thread but a boring old chestnut anyway. Kirstie allsop has c sections and then tries to guilt trip women who have had natural births by making them feel they can't feel good about it

As for the NCT- my classes provided info on csections but the emphasis was on natural birth using non invasive pain relief Because this is what the clients wanted from the classes. Our first session was very clear that the teacher would focus on the topics the group wanted. As a group we all wanted a big focus on relaxation and breathing techniques and that's what we got. The teacher told us that she would do this with all groups, but sometimes people want more info on epidurals or other things so she just adjusts the balance. Out of our group, one mum had a c section and a couple opted for epidurals but none of them complained afterwards - they knew what they were buying into with the NCT and the fact that one ended up with medical complications needing a csection and that two chose to have a more medicalised birth because they wanted epidurals did not make them suddenly do a u turn and decide they were anti NCT. If you don't agree with what the NCT stands for then don't join- no one holds a gun to your head! You get ante natal care, advice and often classes free of charge through the NHS anyway. The NCT is open about its aims and it really annoys me when people sign up to it and then blame the organisation because they didn't have a natural birth!

hidethebiscuits Fri 04-Jan-13 13:46:36

I'm afraid to say my experience of the NCT was not positive, either. On our course our teacher (no medical training) argued with one of the mums (an anaesthetist consultant) about the epidural statistics, dismissing her facts as biased (!). Later on, after birth, we were emailed information (without asking) about breastfeeding by one of the local NCT people which was wholly one sided and demonised formula feeding to the extent that one of the mothers (who had tried and failed to breastfeed) was crying over it when we met up for a coffee.

I, too, felt like complaining about this to NCT but at the time had too much on my hands, dealing with a newborn and (shock horror, failed mother alert!), recovering from an emergency c-section. Though I did manage to breastfeed (despite information on our NCT course being that sections result in failure to bond with your baby and breastfeed...) which meant that at least I ticked one of the NCT boxes.

Perriwinkle Fri 04-Jan-13 13:51:31

nicklebabylyinginamanger you make a good point. Truth be told, Kirsty probably did want a non medicalised water birth lying in a darkened room with whale music piped in but got a c-section instead so feels cheated and has had a bit of a hard time coming to terms with it. NCT probably really grates on her. If she'd had her ideal natural birth she'd probably be the smuggest of the smug NCT brigade. grin

Catriona100 Fri 04-Jan-13 13:51:58

Before I had my first pregancy, I knew virtually nothing of the NCT and I was blissfully unaware of the bottle v breast debate. Maybe I'd heard of it, but it wasn't in my consciousness.
Unless you have lots of pregnant friends or you have been TTC for a while, then what normal person knows about any of this stuff.

Then along comes the NCT and Gina Ford, and I have a double whammy of guilt.

Of course, with what i know now, I would have avoided the NCT, except if I had wanted a postnatal group for maternity leave coffee mornings.

nellyjelly Fri 04-Jan-13 13:53:05

NCT has a particular philosophy which most people know about. If you don't go along with it, don't get involved.

tiktok Fri 04-Jan-13 14:54:05

MrsRudolph, PM me if you want to give me details about being asked to leave a postnatal group for formula feeding and I will investigate. This is against policy and I am astonished it happened. Plenty of people use bottles and formula in NCT! Whoever told you this would be put right.

(Just thought: Was it perhaps a specific breastfeeding support group?)

piprabbit Fri 04-Jan-13 14:57:42

KA seems to be making a career out of making people mostly women feel shit about themselves. Your home, your Christmas, your family are incomplete without a fortune's worth of handcrafted tat. Gilded pears anyone?

tiktok Fri 04-Jan-13 15:01:26

biscuits - I have been asked in a class 'I'm having a c-section and I worry about being able to breastfeed.' I share with these questioners the facts - that a section may impact on breastfeeding (because of mothers' difficulties in getting comfortable position; possible separation of mother and baby; reasons related to the reason for the section etc) but there are many ways to overcome this, and I say what they are. I am pretty sure all bfcs would approach this the same way.

iamanantenatalteacher Fri 04-Jan-13 17:29:33

Hi - I am an antenatal teacher with the NCT and always teach c/s in classes, as do all the teachers I know. I realise some people have had bad experiences and don't want to dismiss them all out of hand, but it is true to say that we can't cover EVERYTHING in class. I don't think the NCT is doing anything wrong by encouraging women to have as natural birth as possible, this is what the NHS is also increasingly doing so it's not like the NCT is going off on some weird tangent. I teach informed choice, ie know what your options are, know what it means to make certain choices, don't go into it blind and then regret it later. I also put a lot of emphasis on postnatal relationships and support as I think this can be when NCT classes can really come into their own.
By the way, I also get really angry when I hear that the NCT is somehow anti c/s as I myself had both my children by this method, both elective, and I was over the moon with both births. My experience was my experience and I do not "promote" c/s because of it, but I would take on anyone who could suggest that I was "anti".
I think Kirstie has a lot of her own issues over this. Whoever said that everything in her life has to be "perfect" is spot on in my opinion. She is obviously lost somewhere in the anger stage of the "grief" (ie loss) cycle...

brettgirl2 Fri 04-Jan-13 18:00:46

Why should some one feel good about having a natural birth? I am glad I did and consider myself lucky rather than anything else.

I think people feel that the NCT should be about supporting all women and educating. Instead one of the first links on the birthing page is for home birth which a very small number have (FWIW I've had a homebirth but I still find it odd) In the pain relief section no pros given for epidural just negatives about interventions. No mention that you may need them anyway and if so having had an epidural is a good thing! Predictably I can't find risks of natural birth but risks of cs are the third row in the topic!

Research is repeated alongside their ' policies' including stuff about hospitals leading to more interventions. This I' m sure is true but surely the important thing is to find out why? Isn't this what they should be doing instead of promoting homebirth? Perhaps ladies in hospital should all have a midwife with them all the time rather than relying on a machine to monitor?

Even if it was a bf support group surely someone should not be asked to leave for giving baby a bottle? They may still be trying to breastfeed if not perhaps they want support having stopped breastfeeding? This whole ' breastfeeding counsellor' ' breast feeding group' title rankles with me anyway. It should be ' infant feeding counsellor' and ' infant feeding group' the emphasis being on striving for the best start for all babies and mothers. That maybe breastfeeding in most cases but not all and include support for mixed and formula feeding. It just leads to divisions and smugness amongst the wrong kind of people.

I think it is probably a minority of women who conceive easily, stay low risk during pregnancy, have a natural birth and then exclusively breastfeed successfully for any time. That's why their agendas get up people's noses.

Xenia Fri 04-Jan-13 18:05:55

I think she's wrong the NCT (of which my mother in the 1960s was one of the very early members) is good at explaining all kinds of births.

Ms Allsop had C sections and has had her children out of wedlock with a man who doesn't marry her and who already had other children and she spouts forth some very non feminists statements about always doing what her husband said and she has a bit of a weight problem. I'm not sure she is going to be anyone's natural authority on getting life right surely?

manormuppet Fri 04-Jan-13 18:12:27

Oh Xenia you just get more nonsensical every time you post.

NCT is not a homogeneous organisation whatever Belinda "CEO" Phipps would like to think. Head Office might make grand pronouncements about midwife recruitment and government policy, but most people's experience of NCT comes from local groups, branches and regions, and from the teachers who are effectively self-employed.

Our branch concentrates on supporting local families - regardless of birth plan and feeding method - and has a pretty good reputation for inclusiveness. Friends in other areas have described similar situations to those upthread, eg being asked to leave groups because using formula.

NCT is a large part of the reason British women are able to go for active/water/midwife-led births. Look at other developed countries that we medically have lots in common with - they birth on their backs with epidurals as a matter of course. Over decades the charity has campaigned to give women choice and control over our bodies.

But, and it's a big but, by promoting "natural" methods such as drugfree all-fours births and exclusive breastfeeding, they will necessarily exclude those women who for valid reasons are unwilling or unable to choose the "natural" method, unless they work bloody hard not to alienate them.

And they haven't been working nearly hard enough on that.

tiktok Fri 04-Jan-13 18:24:29

brettgirl, links change all the time on the major pages of the website....lots of websites do this, to make it look different some of the time. Some links are more prominent, more often, because this is in response to what people come to the website to look for. Many people will go to nct website for info on home birth - evidence is that far more women are interested in finding out about it than actually go on to have one, of course, but that's why the link is there.

Can't see what there is to object to in the epidural info - seems evidence-based to me. No, nothing on risks of 'natural birth', as it's not a term NCT use. Try looking under 'straightforward birth', and the evidence for it and when it is not possible.

There is a lot of evidence about hospitals and interventions already and NCT is not primarily a research organisation and could not do its own large studies into why (there is NCT research into parents' experiences of it). You'll find NCT campaigns for more midwifery care for women - no space to go into detail here but its a repeated theme (home birth is promoted as an option to consider, and NCT support women who want to explore it - can't see what's wrong with that!).

Many breastfeeding support groups do include women using formula, but some do not (though I think to actually ask someone to leave is v. unkind). There are reasons for having breastfeeders only - mainly to preserve the feeling of safety and welcome that in some areas breastfeeding women just don't feel.

Breastfeeding counsellors - I am one - do support all women in their feeding inc women who use formula. But on the whole, women do not need to be 'enabled' to bottle feed and breastfeeding women face different issues.

You have an odd idea of NCT's agenda. Where does the 'conceive easily' come into it? The low risk pregnancy?

Ooh and if we are going to talk about smuggest of the smug brigade regarding NCT, step forward Davina McCall.

janey68 Fri 04-Jan-13 20:00:12

brettgirl2 - I don't know about stats for conceiving easily and exclusive bf, but I am pretty sure I'm correct in saying the clear majority of pregnancies are straightforward and do have the potential to end in a straightforward natural delivery. That's not to say every birth with that potential will end up like that... sometimes the mother opts for an epidural, which then necessitates monitoring and limits mobility and then there's the cascade of intervention. Other times things can go wrong during labour. But no way is it medically necessary for a quarter of all births to be CSections as they are now in the UK. How do you explain the hugely varying rates of CS and other interventions in different countries too? In come countries CS is even more prevalent; while in others about 90% of births are with epidural.

Going to NCT classes heightened my awareness of how two similar straightforward pregnancies can end in dramatically different births not because of medical reasons but because of how the woman is able to cope in labour and how she is supported. I had my first baby in a MLU. It was a long, very painful labour (but that's totally normal first time round} and the midwife who supported me throughout the final 6 hours told me afterwards that had I opted for the large regional hospital instead, the midwives would probably have been pushed by the doctors to intervene and offer epidural, and in fact she reckoned I would have ended up with forceps. As it was, I had a few whiffs of g and a and pushed the baby out myself after a very long pushing stage - which again, the midwife said would probably have been curtailed in hospital. She reckoned after 2 hours pushing the doctors would have started pushing for forceps or CS.

At the end of the day, most births could be natural without any harm to baby or mother. They frequently just aren't allowed to be

mrswheezie Fri 04-Jan-13 21:12:37

When I first became pregnant I got a lot of conflicting advice about whether or not to take NCT classes. A few of my friends had taken the class and loved the social aspect but weren't particularly bothered by the info, in fact their description was reminiscent of an exclusive match making service! Another close friend who has been a midwife for over 10 years told me NOT to attend and to spend my money on a weekend away with my husband. My midwife friend told me that the NCT often sets people up for disappointment and that she has had to comfort too many women over the years who view pain relief as failure and having a c-section as abnormal rather than lifesaving.
I decided to take the classes for a number of reasons, among them was helping my busy husband to be better informed so that he wouldn't feel too bewildered in the delivery room. In fact he came out feeling like they hadn't taught him a thing and compared it to a gcse biology lesson.
By the time the NCT classes rolled around, we had a very stuck very breech little girl and had been scheduled for a c-section. We played along with all the role play and the info sessions thinking surely they will get to the c-section bit soon...towards the end of the session it was clear that all we were getting was a glossed over mention. Another couple who were also in the same boat as us have since become very firm friends of ours. We all felt that it isn't the information itself it's the way it's presented. Each NCT teacher clearly has their own teaching style and emphasis on what they feel to be important but it clearly wasn't c-sections or pain relief in our case. In fact at one point epidurals were completely demonized.
The breastfeeding session was also held (for the teachers convenience) in a small village 40 minutes away by car (we don't drive) rather than in the large city we live in. We were unable to attend and I was given very short shrift for complaining about the location. Customer service not the nct's strong point.
The day before my scheduled c-sec my baby turned...then I was 12 days overdue...I was induced...spent 24 hours in labour and finally had an emcs. I had done a lot of research myself but I still felt uninformed but very lucky to come out with a healthy baby and am alive me. Why my nct felt the need to ignore a lifesaving procedure which saved me and my baby i will never understand. I wrote several emails about my concerns but never got a reply. I wish I'd spent that money on a babymoon!

brettgirl2 Fri 04-Jan-13 21:45:21

Tiktok exactly you want to support all which is why the breastfeeding as opposed to infant feeding is odd. Why would someone breastfeeding be uncomfortable in 'mixed' company, just weird.

As Horatia says they are not working hard enough not to alienate. You may think I' m stupid/ mad/ badly informed or whatever but I' m not alone in my perceptions.

Low risk pregnancy is the only type where mw led units and hb is even relevant. I agree conception not direct to NCT but in terms of everything going as we want it is another source of failure for women, perhaps not entirely relevant.

Strongly disagree that the information on epidural is balanced. I could come up with a more helpful list of advantages myself. HB is probably more popular purely because there are more pages thus it stays on the front!!!

Perhaps if the NCT funded further research in areas where it is desperately needed I would have more faith. If that's not what they are about then I probably never will.

tiktok Fri 04-Jan-13 23:38:04

brettgirl, some women who are breastfeeding need a safe space where they will not be criticised, undermined or made to feel odd, crazy, selfish or exhibitionist. I work with women whose breastfeeding is fragile, who want to bf, but who are undermined at every turn in doing it. A breastfeeding support group for them is a lifeline....they don't feel 'uncomfortable' with women formula feeding, but some breastfeeding support groups do have a general rule that they are for breastfeeding women and formula feeding women sharing this space is undermining for them. You may disagree with this, or think it is 'weird', but that's the way it is.

I don't think all breastfeeding support groups should be closed to formula feeders, but I understand why some are.

Home birth on the website: the topic is known to be a popular choice not solely from it being on the front page but mainly from google searches - that's part of the way websites track their traffic. People search home birth and come to the nct website that way.

NCT is a charity, whose remit is education for parenthood. It is focussed on services to parents, and training for people to deliver those services. A small but important part of its work is campaigning. It has no funds to support research of the sort you are asking for, and would be acting outside its legal charity boundaries if it worked in this way.

Startail Sat 05-Jan-13 00:08:55

Bolder dash and piffle!

Sorry Kirsty, but I know several NCT teachers. They role play CS and have a game with playmobil people showing how crowded the room can become.

Reasons for CS, forceps, ventouse etc are discussed as are all forms of pain relief.

Yes the classes are aimed at empowering women and their partners to try for the birth they want, but they are also aimed at giving you the tools to understand the birth you got.

personally, I can't remember if CS were mentioned in the first, set of NCT classes 15 years ago, but they were in the second.

Ten years later my NCT group still meet up occasionally.

I can't remember everyone's birth story's now, there were CSs and excitements and one very laid back home birth.

However, I cheated I was the only second time mumgrin

Some FF and some BF, no one judged (I certainly didn't as I have had DDs who been absolute polar opposites about feeding).

Knowing each other this long, the baby stuff really became irrelevant, we were just friends chattering about life, bringing up toddlers, then returning to work, having siblings and choosing schools.

Won't be long before we are worrying about BFs

nickelbabylyinginamanger Sat 05-Jan-13 10:40:12

now, i actually disagree with the breastfeeding/formula feeding groups issue raised here.

My friend had huge problems BFing her 5th - he was tongue tied and had failure to thrive etc etc.
he also turned out to have CMPI (friend only found out because she is herself and had started to eat dairy to see if she was okay with it, and DS reacted badly to it)
she had been mix feeding because after trying everything he was still not thriving. she went along to one of those BF support groups and had to feed him with formula while she was there and they were really really nasty to her about it. and she was asked to leave.
even though she had gone there to get help with her BFing problems.

tiktok Sat 05-Jan-13 13:14:10

nickel, there is never any good reason for being unkind, or nasty, or making any individual woman feel uncomfortable. I hope your friend complained about this.

Breastfeeding support groups are not the best place to get clinical assessments of things like CMPI - the clue is in the name. They support breastfeeding in a social sense, but they are not geared up to fix breastfeeding problems. They're fine on basic physiology and practical stuff, and they should refer on if something is beyond that. If there is anyone to refer to....

The trouble is, there is insufficient knowledge about the clinical aspects of feeding babies and mothers end up at support groups 'cos there is nowhere else to go, and no one else to see. They may even be referred to the support group by an HCP, and go there with expectations that underlying medical issues will be i) spotted and ii) fixed

What you are describing is the sort of unpleasant judgmental response I have seen everywhere in my experience as a mother - the toddler group where no one speaks to you, the group where people mutter about someone with a child going through a difficult phase, the schoolgates mafia. Some people are just not nice....but with a group that has some sort of outside funding, branding, support or management, there is always the possibility of making a complaint, so things can change.

BalloonSlayer Sat 05-Jan-13 13:34:35

Sorry but snnnoooooooooort at They role play CS and have a game with playmobil people showing how crowded the room can become.

But I thought NCT classes are for grown ups?

Seriously, why do you need to "role play" lying completely still on a table?

And are people genuinely unable to understand the verbal information: "the operating theatre can get quite crowded when you have a CS" without recourse to little plastic dollies?

Xenia Sat 05-Jan-13 13:36:14

nickel, I had thought your post was going to end - she went to the group and someone told her how you can get someone to cut under the tongue to remove the tongue tie so she could feed well. Sorry it was so bad but most people do find NCT classes terribly helpful. Well worth joining as are La Leche League and other groups for those breastfeeding.

The NCT has never (even when I had my first children in the 80s or even when my mother went in the 60s) ever just been on about natural birth. Classes always describe all kinds of birth. No one ever classes someone who as a C section or bottle feeds as a failure. Having children is not about failing, mind you perhaps I have always been insulated from the issues raised because I went back to work full time at 2 weeks so never really was with other mothers or groups in that sense once the babies came so managed to avoid over 30 years things like school gate chat, other mothers and the like- lucky me.

nickelbabylyinginamanger Sat 05-Jan-13 13:43:33

tiktok - i know you would never tolerate that in your groups.
she went to the groups for a support network and for help with latching or anything else she was having problems with and had missed - she really did try everything to get him to feed well. she also was recommended to go there by the people who sorted out his tongue-tie, to get support for persevering and help with the tongue exercises etc.

the CMPI thing came later.

Xenia - it wasn't an NCT one, i don't think. i was just commenting on those who were saying that formula feeders have no place in a BFing group. my friend did, because she was trying to reduce the FF and do BF, but she was treated like she didn't belong and that she was evil for FFing.

pistachio Sat 05-Jan-13 15:19:18

balloon- the feedback i have had from clients who have had CS is that the role play was very helpful. All that happens is each person has a card with a job title on it, and we stand round roughly how theatre would be set up and talk through each person's role. It is a way of getting the conversation flowing, of making it more real and allows the group to raise questions as we go along. Practical things they hadn;t thought of, like whether they will be able to hold their baby straight away, or what sensations they might feel, who will be the person they can turn to for reassurance during the operation etc. Thoughts come up that wouldn't spring to mind if we just sat in a circle.

I promise there are no plastic scalpels and dressing up costumes involved grin.

bluebiscuit Sat 05-Jan-13 15:31:36

Iirc we did a class on vaginal birth and a class on c section. All balanced, the teacher was sensible and just wanted everyone's baby to be born safely.

There was also a breast feeding class. I am not sure if there was anything on ff in the next class because I missed the rest of the classes as I got complications of pg.

tiktok Sat 05-Jan-13 15:46:07

balloon, nct classes do use activities and involve 'things' to enable easier, more direct and effective learning. It's a respected pedagogical approach, well-evidenced, for adults as well as children. It does not need to be infantalising, as your outraged reply suggests smile

I'd say this though: if people prefer sitting in rows watching a power point 'presentation' with a lecture-style trainer, and no interaction, and of course some people do, they'd find nct classes to be rather different from this.

BalloonSlayer Sat 05-Jan-13 17:30:25

I hope your smile meant you didn't mean the "outraged" comment, tiktok, - to clarify, I thought it was hilarious. grin

I've only had caesareans, although I did have some labour with DC1, and although I feel that NCT classes should cover caesareans to an extent, and certainly not overlook the topic as some have suggested they do, I really don't think that they need "preparing for" to anything like the degree labour and vaginal births do.

tiktok Sat 05-Jan-13 18:55:37

No, I didn't think you were literally 'outraged', Balloon, hence my smile icon.

You did find it hilarious, in the sense of risible, though, and I thought an explanation/other POV was called for. Hope you found it helpful.

GreenEggsAndNichts Sat 05-Jan-13 21:11:51

I'm an active volunteer in my local NCT branch. I have made many friends through various activities sponsored by the organisation.

I agree with Kirstie.

I will also stress, before I say what I'm going to say, that I am very aware that NCT courses vary from region to region.

I realise some people think the C-section roleplay is informative, however I have heard from many people who attended our local courses who felt it was negative. Labour = all very natural and lovely and something to experience, but C-section = frightening, surrounded by strangers with lots of wires hooked up to you. Another complaint I've heard several times (keep in mind, all from people who do not know each other, and not prompted by me at all) was that the courses were too much about how they "felt" about being pregnant, or going into labour, rather than the practicalities of it. I can't comment on these beyond this is what I've heard from many people who have struck up conversations with me regarding the NCT, because they know about my activity with the charity.

My antenatal course (not NCT) featured: specifics about labour, practicalities of what to expect during the process of calling the hospital, checking in, and even a map with directions from one hospital to another (because the main hospital in the city has closed many times over the last year, she was letting us know to be prepared to be sent to the other hospital). Then of course a lot of detail about labour and different forms of pain relief. Feeding, she stressed breast feeding, but was able to talk about bottle feeding (which is so important- statistics show a number of people choose to bottle feed, why leave them at the mercy of their mother's instructions on how to prepare a bottle? Formula has changed since we were children and it can't be prepared in advance the way she did it!) (and no, I didn't formula feed- no doubt someone will care about that...) etc etc.

Now, yes, different people want different things from their antenatal courses. But I think the NCT needs to look into offering different courses. We're constantly stressing how we want to reach everyone (read: younger mums, not the typical NCT middle class 30+ yr old mum) but if we want to reach everyone then we need to offer classes which get back to basics regarding pregnancy and labour. The NCT courses now sound like they mostly appeal to women who have already done a great deal of research on their own and would like to supplement that. (or simply to meet other new mums, let's face it, that's a driving factor for many!)

Honestly, I've had a look at her Twitter feed, and I've yet to find something I disagree with. I was disappointed with the reaction from the head office. Why immediately go on the defensive? Yes, they're also inviting people to give feedback on their courses, but the overwhelming feeling is that of "let's protect the NCT from this negative publicity."

It's quite timely, actually. I've heard a number of casual complaints from acquaintances over the last few months, and I encouraged them to give feedback to people who matter more than myself. Most of them don't, or won't, because they just can't be bothered as they're done with their course, made the friends they wanted, and are immersed in newborn nappies.

I hope no one takes my comments personally. The longer I am involved with the organisation, the more jaded I feel about certain aspects of it.

tiktok Sun 06-Jan-13 00:38:23

GreenEggs, NCT offers several different courses already - NCT 'classic' courses are only one type. NCT teachers and breastfeeding counsellors work in many settings - clinics, maternity units, surestart, prisons, refuges, teenage mother groups, etc. You may not be aware of this - they are not, in many cases, badged as NCT classes.

NCT is training 'Pregnancy Birth and Beyond' practitioners, who are teachers who will facilitate a further type of course. The first classes will become available in a year or so's time when the first cohort of PBB practitioners start practising after qualifying with the University of Worcester. This will be yet another type of course, and is likely to be free of charge for most (because the courses will be commissioned by NHS, Childrens Centres, other agencies).

The only real criticism in your post is that you have heard from a number of women that they did not find the caesarean section education positive. You feel that is what NCT gets wrong - and it appears that some women would agree (a small minority - stats show that 87 per cent of clients find the information gets it 'about right'). I think NCT should continue to strive to get it right for everyone - it's not good if people feel any aspect of the course frightens them, and I know this debate is continually had within NCT. How to be realistic, how to support confidence, how to share information, in a way that parents to be find useful and's not easy to get right.

You agree with KA that NCT is politicised, scary and dogmatic? Why would you want to volunteer for such an organisation? You have made friends, through the activities and events set up and supported by it - yet you think it is politicised, scary and dogmatic? Honestly? Just because of this difficulty you have experienced second hand about the way caesarean section is presented? There must be more to it than this.

GreenEggsAndNichts Sun 06-Jan-13 11:26:29

I've sent you a PM because I don't actually want to discuss specifics publically.

I will say that I haven't read every single comment the woman has made, so I should back off when I say I agree with everything. grin No, I don't think the NCT is scary. Dogmatic? A bit, despite protestations. Political? A bit, yep. More so with every year.

I support my local group because it's a terrific group and I think it's important to support new parents. I think the group facilitates friendships and support at an important stage of our lives. I know that my friends here feel the same- they're here for the friendships they've made, and it's nice that they're helping a charity along the way.

I'm well aware of the work the NCT does in other areas. But there's a big middle ground between support for refugees and teen mother groups and where the antenatal courses are. I think a lot of people would just like a course with practical tips, one which doesn't assume you've already done all your homework on the subject.

Anyway. You're right, there's a lot more to it than what I've said here. But I thought it was worth noting the reactions to these courses that I've heard. They've all come from people who didn't attend the same course, and have no agenda attached. Kirstie's managed a whole heap of publicity from this. I honestly didn't know who she was before this week.

I might also just be feeling very negatively at the moment so I should say again, I don't think the NCT is scary. I think at a local level they do some amazing things, especially the specialist workers. However, I don't agree with everything the head office does (will not be going into specifics here), but I don't think that's different from any other organisation.

tiktok Sun 06-Jan-13 12:23:02

Have answered your PM, GreenEggs smile

I'm glad NCT is political, BTW. What's wrong with that? Support for new parents involves campaigning, contact with government and policy drivers; it needs a clear focus and sound thinking about what is needed in order for parents to be supported. You want better paternity leave? You want more and better midwifery? You think women should have good facilities at work to enable them to express milk? And so on.

You have to get your hands in the political pie to be listened to and to effect change.

AmberSocks Sun 06-Jan-13 14:47:34

never felt the need to go to ante natal classes so cant omment on that,but i think he only people who make women feel guilty are other women.

Shagmundfreud Sun 06-Jan-13 17:54:34

"No, I don't think the NCT is scary. Dogmatic? A bit, despite protestations. Political? A bit, yep. More so with every year."

What, political because it's raising a protest about the rising tide of caesarean sections and emergency intervention in birth? And because of it campaigns for women to have more choices in birth and better care?

Too damn right it's political when it comes to these issues, and thank FUCK that someone is flagging this issue up and not just standing to one side while increasing numbers of women are traumatised by bad care.

And FWIW - the Royal College of Midwives make vastly more noise than the NCT about the importance of normal birth to women and babies. Actually they've set up a whole website to promote normal birth: here

"Together, we can change the way childbirth happens. The Campaign aims to inspire and support normal birth practice. It's a reminder that good birth experiences can happen despite the challenges. Intervention and caesarean shouldn't be the first choice - they should be the last."
(from the RCM website. Imagine if the NCT had that statement on their website, what a hammering they would get!)

And given that this is the case - why the hell isn't the RCM being demonised for guilt tripping women who have medicalised births, or who choose not to breastfeed?"

Why is it only the NCT who is being hammered for voicing EXACTLY the same concerns as the RCM?

"My midwife friend told me that the NCT often sets people up for disappointment and that she has had to comfort too many women over the years who view pain relief as failure and having a c-section as abnormal rather than lifesaving."

I know a couple of midwives who slag the NCT off for setting women up with unrealistic expectations which are then disappointed. These midwives work in a setting where women are often getting suboptimal care. Far better to slag the NCT off (when actually they usually have NO IDEA what the woman has been told as regards pain relief) than accept their much, much more important role in women's disappointing experiences of labour.

IrnBruTheNoo Sun 06-Jan-13 18:06:29

Never been to NCT classes so cannot comment on what they are like. I do think it is covered brilliantly by the NHS classes though (well, the ones I attended were covered extremely well by the midwife taking them, with various speakers too). We had lots of 'worse case scenario' type advice. I wanted real advice, the gritty kind.

Shagmundfreud Sun 06-Jan-13 19:18:10

IrnBru - 'worse case' scenarios would include a mother in ICU or dead. Three women died in the space of 12 weeks in my local hospital in 2011. Substandard care was found to be a contributing factor in two of the deaths. I've observed a good few NHS classes and I've yet to witness a midwife acknowledging that some women will get suboptimal care, which may impact on their experience of the birth and the mode of birth. And yet when this very important issue is acknowledged in NCT classes the NCT is accused of being anti-doctor and also, perversely, for being idealistic about birth.

IrnBruTheNoo Sun 06-Jan-13 19:39:25

Shag I was actually referring to the most common types of 'worse case scenarios' as in the types of births, i.e. you don't always get the birth you want that you've dreamed of on your birth plan.

Shagmundfreud Sun 06-Jan-13 20:03:32

I think IrnBru, you'll find that the majority of women already know LONG before they attend antenatal classes that many, many mums have emergency c/s, forceps and ventouse deliveries.

janey68 Sun 06-Jan-13 21:25:52

When I had my first dc in a MLU, the midwife who had delivered my baby was siting chatting to me 24 hours later during a night feed (yes- they had TIME to sit and chat and be supportive there!) She chatted about her previous job in the large district hospital which I would have gone to if I hadn't booked into the MLU. She told me how much more rewarding it was to work in the MLU, how midwives were allowed to get on with their specialised role of supporting women in labour without the numerous pressures in a bustling hospital. Her only disappointment about the role was that more women didn't choose to deliver there. A lot of mums transferred (as fast as possible) after delivering in hospital but she really wished more women realised that for a normal pregnancy, the MLU was a really good option, with a 100% safety record.

A big part of it was down to the NCT that I made that choice, Because the focus on non invasive pain relief helped me feel confident that I could cope. At the end of the day, the majority of births could be like that.
I'm not viewing it through rose tinted specs- it was a long painful labour but I was well supported by my midwife which is key

A final word: if kirstie Allsop needed csections to save her babies lives then why on earth would she feel bad about it? IME the cases where women feel negative about interventions like CS or forceps or epidural is when they realise their experience could have been different. No way are a quarter of births in the UK medically necessary as CS (in some hospitals nearer 50%). There is a world of difference between a life saving intervention and one which actually could have been avoided.

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