The National Childbirth Trust are not to blame....


Kirstie Allsopp’s recent criticism of the National Childbirth Trust (NCT) is very sad indeed, but I am afraid it’s yet another sign of the times. The article in The Telegraph strikes me as another ‘who can I blame?’ dialogue that is usually focused on breastfeeding. But this misguided condemnation of an organisation that has for decades campaigned, championed and worked very hard to support positive childbirth outcomes through supporting information sharing to expectant couples isn't helpful. 

I have been a midwife for 35 years. During that time midwives (including me) and doctors have unwittingly and relentlessly nudged childbirth from a social family centred occasion towards an increasingly perceived 'risky' medical event, and now women are fearful of giving birth and reliant on unnecessary medical intervention. 

The article reminds us that it is absolutely critical that no women should feel that she has 'failed' if she needs a Caesarean section for the safe delivery of her baby. A positive childbirth experience is most important. But women's disappointment needs careful support and attention, and blaming a whole organisation does not contribute to that. 

Charities like the NCT are part of a global surge to reverse the trend of increasing UNNECESSARY intervention, and their work maximizes the opportunity for women to feel empowered, to be less afraid, and to understand and believe in their ability to give birth. So if women attend NCT antenatal ‘classes’ and become strong and inspired as their baby’s due date advances, they are fortunate and in a much better position to negotiate the corridor of countless doors that face them when labour starts. But, if each of those doors sadly close due to rigid hospital guidelines, ill-informed health care professionals, hospital cultures and systems, or as often happens a change of plan from a confused mother to be, then the NCT are not to blame. 

What do you think?