Charity is STILL trying to ‘guilt trip’ mothers into natural births: Pregnant women on NCT antenatal courses say some teachers remained fixated on issue despite it being blamed for unnecessary deaths
- National Childbirth Trust is still trying to ‘guilt-trip’ women into natural births
- NCT deleted articles proclaiming ‘natural’ labour left mothers more ‘satisfied’
- Charity received over £1million from government grants and contracts last year
Britain’s biggest childbirth charity has continued to ‘guilt-trip’ women into natural births despite the obsession being blamed for unnecessary deaths, the Daily Mail can reveal.
The National Childbirth Trust (NCT) also deleted articles proclaiming ‘natural’ labour left mothers more ‘satisfied’ days before the Ockenden report into the biggest maternity scandal in NHS history.
The NCT, which received over £1million from government grants and contracts last year, runs fee-paying antenatal courses for more than 90,000 mostly middle-class parents-to-be every year.
For many first-time mothers, these classes are a key source of information. But women who recently attended courses said some teachers remained fixated with natural births and made them feel any intervention, even taking paracetamol, was shameful.
The National Childbirth Trust (NCT) has continued to ‘guilt-trip’ women into natural births despite the obsession being blamed for unnecessary deaths, the Daily Mail can reveal (file image)
Others said the NCT made them feel they had ‘failed’ because they had life-saving caesarean, with one told by a teacher to ‘mourn’ her emergency C-section. The NCT was a driving force against what it saw as the over-medicalisation of labour.
Last month the Ockenden report found the avoidable deaths of 201 babies and nine mothers at Shrewsbury and Telford NHS Trust were in part due to women being refused a caesarean.
Following the report, the NCT said it had changed its policy in 2019 so that it no longer promoted ‘one way over another’ for childbirth.
But Rebecca Matthews, an education lecturer who is completing a PhD on birth trauma, said mothers who went to NCT courses last year said they were encouraged to avoid induction and interventions as they would lead to a ‘cascade of interventions’, and were not prepared for the risks of vaginal birth.
The NCT, which received over £1million from government grants and contracts last year, runs fee-paying antenatal courses for more than 90,000 mostly middle-class parents-to-be every year (file image)
‘We were told to avoid painkillers’
A mother of two claimed the National Childbirth Trust pushed a message that natural birth was ‘absolutely the best’ option in classes she attended in 2019.
Dr Kate Canning, 35, also made a formal complaint to the charity after she was warned against taking painkillers during labour by a class leader.
The engineering professor from Southampton said the antenatal course which was led by a hypnobirth practitioner felt like ‘a hypnobirthing class from day one’. Hypnobirthing promotes techniques such as breathing control to manage pain during labour.
She said caesareans were ‘glossed over’, which left her unprepared when she had an emergency C-section. Her class was also discouraged from epidurals and paracetamol in early-stage labour. ‘It’s damaging because it creates an expectation that you’re just going to breathe out this baby,’ she said.
She added: ‘The NCT is a multi-million pound charity which does some excellent work, but they are actively promoting – along with many other antenatal organisations – vaginal childbirth without intervention as risk-free and stigmatising all other modes of birth.’
Clarabella Gray, of the Infant Feeding Alliance campaign, attended the NCT antenatal course in 2019 and took a refresher in 2021.
She said: ‘It concerns me that mothers are potentially being left with some form of psychological or physical trauma due to their birth experiences being hugely mismatched from the rhetoric of influential organisations, such as the NCT.’
On Mumsnet, a woman claimed her NCT teacher told her group: ‘If a doctor as much as looks into your labour room, that will be enough to disrupt your hormones and for labour to stall.’
The charity had articles on its website until at least March 6 saying: ‘You are more likely to feel satisfied with spontaneous vaginal delivery than if you have your labour induced or accelerated…’
One linked to what it called the Royal College of Midwives’ (RCM) ‘campaign for normal birth’ website. The RCM dropped this campaign in 2017, acknowledging it could have been ‘misleading’.
Since 2017 the NCT has secured around £2.5million from government contracts and £1.1million from grants.
An NCT spokesman said: ‘We are not here to promote one way over another, but to ensure parents have access to evidence-based information and a network of peer and specialist support.’ She said antenatal course content was ‘extensively reviewed and refreshed’ in 2019 and should now cover all birth methods.