The National Childbirth Trust (NCT) has a new chief executive who is a man, – this seems hopeful to me, if only because Nick Wilkie has apparently noticed in his first look at this new surroundings, that the membership of this organisation is disproportionately middle class.
With such insight my hope is centred on the possibility that he may also in time come to realise that the NCT’s dogmatic approach to childbirth is the source of much guilt and dismay amongst mothers. And that when you start motherhood from such a low point, it makes the whole deal that much harder.
When my obstetrician gently posited the idea that an elective C Section was medically the best way forward I ditched plans for an epidural and got my diary out before he could change his mind. Partly because I’m not a big fan of pain, but mainly because I wanted what was safest for me and for baby.
The value of a safe delivery seems less important to the NCT than their belief that a candle lit, back rubbing, painful birth is the only one that counts. Their message is, that if you end up opting for pain relief, or god forbid a Section becomes necessary, you have somehow failed. And what new mother thrives on the idea that they have failed before they have even got their baby home?
I often work with women whose expectations of childbirth were wholly and completely shattered by the reality. The intensity of their feelings about having not been “good enough” are crippling and overshadow their baby’s early months or years. Invariably the NCT were a big part in setting these expectations and apart from offering a few post-natal coffee mornings, do nothing to repair the damage.
I’m not suggested that the candle lit option isn’t valid, far from it; if that’s want you want, and that works out for you then great. But let’s not pretend that this will be possible or even desirable for everyone. A good birth is one where the mother feels able to plan what she thinks will be best for her (not what she” should” do), doesn’t feel she has failed if things change, and both she and her baby come through it happy and un-traumatised.
It troubles me that I have to ask a man if he can possibly understand this, but in the given circumstances, it’s over to you Mr Wilkie.