A birth is a birth

Signing up to NCT classes was – for us – among the best money we’ve ever spent on parenthood.

This isn’t because of the graphic photos that put the fear of God into everyone in the room (including the Dads), or even the bum-change practice with pretty realistic dirty nappies (English mustard and pesto are ruined for me).  No, the reason why I’d pay for them again and again is because we met people going through exactly the same thing, at exactly the same time and now have friends for (I hope) life.

When Bear was 4 months old, our NCT tutor joined us on one of our weekly coffee/therapy sessions and chatted to each of us about our labours and births, and all the gory details that you don’t need to know while eating your tea (or ever). I explained that after 13 hours of contractions every 4 or 5 minutes, I was still quite a long way off (again, if you’re eating your tea you don’t need me talking about ‘dilation’ and the like do you?) I asked for an epidural, and only then – with both Bear and me on a constant trace – did the midwife realise that Bear’s heartbeat was going up and dropping down dramatically. This could have been going on for any length of time, so I was rushed to theatre and she was born by caesarean section.

Now, the fact that the NCT is pro-natural birth is not new information, and in an age when we’re encouraged to eat, drink and breathe ‘natural’ and organic in everything we do or buy, the NCT’s encouragement of the same wasn’t something I even noticed at the classes. But after telling the tale of Bear’s rather rushed arrival in theatre, I was told – sympathetically – that with number 2 “…there is no reason why you couldn’t have that natural birth.” That natural birth – like it’s the holy grail of labours. I couldn’t help feeling that, if this was an exam, I would have been marked down.

In my wider circle of friends, a large number gave birth by c-section – what I went through was by no means uncommon. Was it what we all hoped and dreamed for when we fell pregnant? Probably not. Do we regret it? No way. A labour is a labour, and a birth is a birth – surely? And surely the most important thing is that we have healthy babies – whether they arrive naturally or via the sunroof?

Before I get shouted out, we did cover the various interventions of labour – from drugs and induction through to the various gadgets (including a ventouse, which isn’t actually a Parisian burlesque dancer – who knew?). But by no means were they touched on in anywhere near equal measure when compared to going through labour with gas, air and good breathing skills. And yet, the majority of my NCT group alone needed at least 1 thing from the midwife’s bag of tricks.

I appreciate that, decades ago, the risk associated with a caesarean operation was higher than it is today. But in the same way that modern medicine has progressed to reduce that risk significantly, should the NCT (and other organisations) be more balanced in their attitude towards labour and birth?


2 thoughts on “A birth is a birth

  1. THANK YOU for writing about this topic. NCT is definitely one of the best things we’ve ever spent money on and I now have a wonderful group of friends who are always there for each other through the shit and the giggles (literally!), but when things do go wrong and you need help in labour you feel guilty for not having gone down the ‘au natural’ route as per NCT. Despite having had a c-sec the first time and it taking me a while to come to terms with it, we’ve just made the decision (at 36 weeks ) to take an elective c-sec as we just couldn’t face what we went through before and I’ve broken down several times on medical staff when I tried to describe what happened in labour that led to the c-sec. I’ve been agonising over this decision for weeks but it was this blog that finally gave me the courage to make what I know deep down is the right decision for me and the baby (and Matt). After all a ‘birth is a birth’ and there are no prizes or medals at the end, just a beautiful and happy baby. I too was told at the NCT reunion that I’d be able to do it naturally 2nd time, but I now realise that when the time comes and labour starts I couldn’t cope emotionally (I’m not worried about pain as epidurals rock!). Now that I’ve made this decision I can’t begin to tell you the sense of relief I feel. I really envy women who do go onto having a VBAC and am very proud of them for achieving it, but it’s not the right route for me . Thank you for writing about this difficult topic 🙂

    In the meantime we can all live in hope that one day we can go onto Amazon, choose the baby and wait for the stork to deliver it 9 months later!

    Please keep writing xxx

    • Oh Emma, what a lovely comment. When I started this blog it was as an outlet for my waffle (in the main) and I did wonder if this post was a bit controversial. To know that it has helped someone is…well…just wonderful. To know that it’s helped you make such a decision makes me smile – I can sense how relieved you are!

      Your little girl is your greatest achievement and number 2 will be the same. Whether they arrive ‘au natural’, via the sunroof, courtesy of a stalk or through Amazon (!) they will ALWAYS be your greatest achievements. Fact.

      And by making the decision you’ve made, I reckon you’ll have much better (and less upsetting) memories of this labour. That can only be a good thing xxxxxxxxx

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