I've been there, done that. In fact, I was being there doing that six years ago tomorrow - almost to the minute as I write this. I responded to Ms Alsopp's tweets on the topic (whether or not they made it through the thousands of replies she must have received is another issue entirely), specifically, to her question about whether or not my NCT classes covered c-sections sufficiently. The article states:
Miss Allsopp, whose two sons were delivered by C-section, said many women were made to feel a "failure" after undergoing the procedure.Although I never thought anyone else made me feel like a failure, I certainly thought that about myself. I felt duped; despite having read dozens of books about childbirth (including the fantastic Thinking Women's Guide to Better Birth by Henci Goer) I still just nodded mutely when the suggestion of an induction and then a c-section were presented to me. I've never been one to do what I'm told (apologies to my previous teachers, bosses, and parents), yet I didn't think to question what I was being told or ask for alternatives.The article continues:
She said more information should be provided by the National Childbirth Trust about C-sections in its antenatal classes.In my case, I agree with this statement. To be fair, no one can expect a thorough explanation about every birth scenario in 8 evenings, but the coverage on this type of birth was very brief. Considering around a quarter of births are by c-section, it's a big one to gloss over. One of our evenings involved an overview of the surgery (including a "re-enactment" of who would be in theatre using Playmobil figures), and that was it. Out of 8, 4 of us ended up with unexpected caesarians. I knew nothing about it going into it, had no idea how difficult recovery could be, and had absolutely no information about breastfeeding after surgery (which is more a fault with the NHS, in my opinion.) The fact is, no matter what type of birth you'd like, preparation for other scenarios isn't a bad thing.
Belinda Phipps, the NCT's chief executive said:
If you've got a class of people who want home births then Caesareans aren't very interesting to them. Our teachers do a demonstration with Playmobil, but we don't force it on people. Our view on Caesareans is we would want to make sure women don't have a procedure if it could have been prevented.This saddens me. My interpretation of this statement is that Phipps believes caesareans are simply not of any "interest" to some people and teaching about it would somehow be perceived as "forcing it on people". But how is the NCT teaching parents to avoid a procedure they may not need by not talking about it? Prevention, education, information - why isn't any of this covered? Those of us who did opt for home births most certainly didn't do so without any information about the alternatives. I wrote three birth plans: home VBAC, hospital VBAC, and a repeat section. Having experienced a section, I knew exactly what I did and didn't want if I needed another. When I had Jack, I didn't even know I could request anything or try to make the experience as "natural" as possible. It was only through experience that I could try and make the next birth better for me.
I am not anti-NCT or their classes and in fact, I've always told people how wonderful they are for making friends. Especially for us as first time parents, knowing others who were also having their first at around the same time was wonderful. Beyond that, I don't think I actually learned very much about pregnancy, childbirth, and breastfeeding.
As I mentioned before, there is only so much you can cover in a few hours, so I don't necessarily fault the course; it's far more informative than the one day Parentcraft classes offered by the NHS. I don't think we can put the entire blame on the NCT for not fully educating a small percentage of parents who opt to take (and pay for) their antenatal classes, but they can expand their material to cover more about caesarians. I did mention this to the instructor when she asked us for feedback about the class, so there's every possibility that the local course material has changed. On the flipside, there was no discussion about home births either. Although this could be because the instructor knew none of us were planning on having one at that time.
So essentially, Alsopp is right - the stigma surrounding caesarians needs to stop. No one's really talking about it, not just the NCT. Talking about it doesn't encourage anyone to opt for one unnecessarily or offend us mad hippy mothers. And while I'm here, can someone point me to the person who coined the phrase "too posh to push" so I can slap them?