I originally posted this in 2011 when Kirstie Allsopp decided to go on Twitter shouting the odds about how the NCT had let her down because her ante natal classes hadn't prepared her for the C section she ended up having.
Since Ms @KirstieMAllsopp has decided to kick off about the exact same thing again today, I guess I'll have to say it again!
This weekend I went to an NCT Ante Natal class to drop off some goody bags to the expectant parents and tell them about the many things we do in the local area.
It’s a new initiative for us and a big deal for someone like me who comes over all Arkwright at the thought of doing A Presentation. I used to do public speaking as a child, not a hint of nerves, and then at some point when it actually started to matter I totally lost the ever living plot. Saturday was a little less ugly than it normally would have been, mainly because I had a chance to chat to some of the couples ahead of the session.
I have to admit I came over all misty eyed.
I loved that excitement of being pregnant for the first time and meeting all these other first timers who were as excited as I was. I wanted to tell these couples to enjoy every last second of it, to write it down, photograph it, capture it because it is over so very quickly, and it’ll never be your “first time” ever again.
My second secret weapon in getting through the presentation was the killer – I brought Alfie with me and he was on all systems go charm offensive. I was offered a swap for a bump (which I believe I accepted so technically I’m waiting for you to come and collect him lady) and he insisted on fetching all the toys from the corner of the room to me one by one which I didn’t even need to look around to know because every minute or so sixteen pairs of eyes moved as one to my knee level and I was hit with a collective sigh. Good team work Alfie, you scored yourself a bonus cookie for that little stunt!
The other thing I wanted to talk about (and the title of this post) is more to do with the media circus surrounding the Kirstie Vs NCT Twitter argument which culminated in this article which took the usual "balanced" media view of proceedings
I know I have harped on about this before but it is a source of constant amazement to me that women are so willing to turn against each other in defense of their birth experiences. There are a lot of ways in which women are let down by modern maternity practices and many - myself included - are left very badly off as a result.
I made a throwaway comment while chatting to the couples at the ante natal class that I had gone 43 weeks with Alfie and guess what, one lady instantly came back with “they let you go 43 weeks?!”. My response, as always was “no, I let them induce me at 43 weeks” before going into an explanation of how nothing can be done without your permission.
And that’s what really bothers me about this argument – should the NCT be talking about c sections? Yes. Should we be providing PND support, you bet your ass! Should it be down to us to hand hold parents through every permutation of how birth can turn out? No, actually I don’t think we should. I don’t even think there should be an expectation of it when you come to an ante natal class because to do that would take a degree course.
It also doesn’t address a pretty fundamental point - probably an unpopular one to make in this day and age - and that is one of personal responsibility. If I make a major life decision then it is my responsibility to make sure I educate myself about what I am doing. If I don’t make sure I know the risks and the possible outcomes then I honestly don’t believe I should expect anyone else to do it for me.
It is sad that some mums are being let down by some teachers who are not talking about sections and it is absolutely not what the NCT are about to exclude mums who have had a section (personal example, right here, as are about 50% of the rest of the committee) and maybe as an organisation we need to find a better balance between parent led content and a set curriculum on our courses but if you are honestly trying to tell me that as an expectant parent you would choose not to educate yourself about c sections when women today have a 1 in 4 chance of having one then frankly you need to take the responsibility for that.
It is not about stigmatising women who have had sections, it’s about women being given proper choices, about enabling them to go away and make the right decisions for their situations and about working to give them a birth story that makes them feel totally empowered, no matter what shape that narrative takes. It is about using c sections as a tool to help women with specific needs rather than as a “get out of jail free” card for poor practices.
Women who have section have nothing to feel ashamed about, end of, and nobody has the power to make you feel anything ... unless you give it to them. Sometimes I think it’s a pity that we don’t learn that lesson and make more productive use of our passion.