I'm sure if any of you are tweeters, you've seen this week's twitter debate between Kirstie Allsopp of Relocation, Relocation fame and Belinda Phipps, the CEO of the National Childbirth Trust.
From what I have learned (it's so hard to keep up with tweets) Belinda has been defending the NCT over Kirstie's charge that the NCT don't cover Caesarean Section sufficiently and thus is being "reckless" and not giving the women correct information.
Of course, Belinda is getting her evidence from the statistics that come back on evaluation forms and Kirstie is taking hers from the tweeters that are all speaking up in outrage at the NCT. Not entirely convinced that Twitter is up to the Cochrane reviewers, however, there is obviously some division with NCT attendees.
I am so dreadfully saddened, partly that a celebrity and a well known charity have aired this in public on a site such as twitter rather than maybe taking it behind the scenes to come to some form of progressive conclusion, because, as we all know, this will always bring those with grievances out to attack, and that myself and my colleagues who work tirelessly to try to empower the women we serve are all being tarred with the same brush.
I am not saying for one second that there are probably many women out there who have suffered, possibly at lack of information in their specific NCT class or NHS class or maybe jsut through mismanagement at the hospital and yes, they need to have these issues looked at and maybe there could be a need for improvement somewhere, after all, we are reflective practitioners and personally we're always trying to improve things for our families and classes.
I am then doubly saddened that the likes of this blogger has written an open letter to Kirstie, for which I agree with the most part, except her slating of all NCT teachers Apparently we're not covering things to sufficiently prepare women for birth - so now, not enough c-section OR enough natural stuff - WTF are we teaching then - dominoes?
We are all, supposedly, working for the same thing, to help empower women ready for their birth, whichever direction it takes. Why has this then become a vendetta to try to bring down the "noxious NCT Nazis" (a direct comment from a response to The Telegraph's article on Kirstie and Belinda's tweeting). I sure didn't go into antenatal teaching to be labelled as this!
Obviously I am taking this personally because, as an NCT teacher myself, my only aim is to teach for informed choice. I cover C sections, but there will be some women there who don't want to know about it or will get upset because it scares them and they will be the ones to attack the NCT for being "too medical".
There are also women who don't want to know about home birth but I will bring this up too as I feel it has to be allowed as much air time as the potential 1 in 4 chance of a c-section. Actually, I wonder if the same stats would be there if more women were able to birth at home or in a birth centre, but that's another debate.
What has made me most cross though is that people seem to think that it is always the responsibility of someone else that they didn't have all the information. Surely, if you are concerned, and IF your NCT class or NHS class doesn't give you the information you require or to the extent you require, it is your responsibility to ensure that you have that information from somewhere else? Perhaps you could ask your NCT facilitator to give you more information, or provide you with some reading material. I always have material I can lend or give to my clients and I make them aware of this, but even then, not everyone asks for it. So, you can lead the horse to water, but you can't force it to drink.
Maybe part of the problem here, isn't what the NCT does or doesn't cover, but it's the fact that some women don't have time for birth, they attend intensive weekend courses because their lives are so busy that they can't dedicate the required time to learning about the possiblities that might arise, medical or natural, with their birth. This can then give an antenatal teacher as little as 12 hours in some cases to cover everything from labour through to life with a baby and beyond.That is a ridiculously short period of time in one or maybe two weekends. Within that groups there could be homebirthers, twin parents, lesbian parents, parents who are scared to death of the whole prospect, single mothers, first time mother with a partner who already has kids and has experience. I am just trying to make the point that classes are mixed beyond belief. Birth to some parents has been skewered by the media, or by friends' experiences, some women are very trusting in their bodies and believe they can birth naturally. This can be the group dynamic that we start with. Are we going to please all the people all the time? I doubt it, but we try.
With this in mind, I can only speak for myself, but am pretty sure it's universal, I get my parents to set the agenda. They are adults, the pedagogy is different to that of a child. Adult learners only learn what they need to know when they need to know it, so asking them to set the agenda will enable me to see what "bothers" them, what they may have read about and want clarifying. If c-section doesn't feature, I will cover it, but maybe not in the depth I would if it did come up.
I have been teaching families for over seven years now, have served over 30 families as a doula and I have lost count of the families I've "taught". I love what I do, I love to help these families realise that they have it in them to be powerful and strong and become great parents. I have a mix of results, sometimes in classes of 8 I'll have two c-sections, sometimes none, but this is not about ME, it's about how my parents feel at the end of it. At the end of the day, there is no badge of honour to be worn. What is important above all else is the fact that a woman is HAPPY with choices she made or if she felt she had no option as an emergency arose, that she is happy that her care providers gave her all the information to keep her in the picture, that she asked all the right questions so that she felt she truly understood. THAT is a happy birth outcome in my mind and that is what I aim for in my classes as I know many of my NCT colleagues do the same.