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Letting the NCT carry on regardless

I’m going to have to be very careful how I write this but in short, I have recently been volunteering for my local NCT, wanting to make a bit of a difference in my local area.

Except that after this weekend I have resigned and will be looking for other more effective ways to volunteer.

I didn’t want to resign.

In fact I had got myself comfortable with the big organisation (almost big business) ethos, the terribly middle class atmosphere, the breastapo teaching and the fallout onto some new mums when they felt they had failed to achieve the holy grail of a ‘natural’ birth.

Its just that sometimes you come across something that makes you incandescent with anger, so cross you can barely do more than shake and so hurt that when you leave the session you burst into tears as you get outside.

I hit a point on Saturday where I realised that telling someone you are passionate about something is not a cover all to allow you to be inaccurate, inconsiderate and incendiary. ย That actually that behaviour and the assumption that if you aren’t with them, you are against them is one of the reasons the external perception of the organisation is so bad.

I walked out of that meeting because I felt enormously cross at the lack of respect for us women and our intelligence and our ability to influence our own situation.

The subsequent email traffic suggesting that the conversation in question had merely hit a raw nerve, that I might like to talk to someone about it and the implication that it I had unresolved issues I needed to deal with merely reinforced my view.

The NCT should be providing information, empowering parents, enabling supportive relationships.

It should not be inaccurately painting itself as the sole saviour standing between women and over medicalised birth when in fact it has done an awful lot to create a chasm between expectations and reality and has created a false sense of failure in women unable to attain the natural childbirth that it trumpets as the ideal.

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28 comments to Letting the NCT carry on regardless

  • Knackered Mother

    >Agree, agree, agree. Well done you. X

  • New Mummy

    >Well done you, I never went to NCT classes are we don't have them close to us but a know a few people that have had bad experiences and made feel like a failure as they didn't have a 'natural' birth. I also know others that have had a great experience with them.

  • christinemosler

    >Well done. I walked away from the NCT 14 years ago for much the same reason. Good point, well made.

  • Emily O

    >Good for you, I have no problem with the NCT as an organisation but parts of it have been rather hijacked by the idealistic brigade which isn't very supportive when you don't do things their way. It's a shame you had to leave like that. I once tried volunteering with them but that ended up in disastrous politics. I blogged about the idealised NCT view a few months ago

  • Mrs M

    >I am so saddened to read this. I am an NCT teacher, and it makes me very worried to hear that this kind of thing is still going on. I found this post via a re-tweet from Spud at Chez Spud, who I've known for a number of years. I hope she'd back me up in saying that not all of us NCT types are peddling false ideals or being part of the breastapo.

    I love my job, but sometimes I really dislike elements of the NCT. Such a shame yet another committed volunteer has been driven away.

    Birth and parenting is hard enough without us beating each other up about decisions we make in our families' best interests.

  • TheAlice

    >Good for you.

    I haven't attended NCT classes – for a reason that I can't quite put my finger on something just doesn't sit right with me about the organization.

  • Notes to self plus two

    >I am standing on my desk shouting "oh captain, my captain".

    Just been to NCT, I shall blog.

  • vegemitevix

    >I don't know the NCT organisation because I had my kids in NZ, however I feel some of the attitudes you talk about are universal. I remember when I took the pill to stop my breast milk with child no 3 a nurse actually asked whether I was in the right frame of mind to be making that decision! I'd had breastfeeding/hormonal problems twice previously that resulted in PND! Hell yeah I was in the right frame of mind, you patronising person!! I actually remember with great fondness my youngest's early days whereas the other two children's early days are wrought with memories of pain, misery and deep feelings of failure. Good for you for sticking it to them and for sticking up for what you believe in! x

  • 1 husband, 2 kids (and lots of books)

    >Husband and I went to NCT classes, they were really helpful, the teacher was lovely, and I made some really good friends that helped me through the first year of parenthood…. but, you are right about the chasm between expectations and reality. When Son was born I desperately wanted to breastfeed. I had no milk – I was told this was impossible, but actually it was – blood tests showed I had no prolactin,perhaps because I also had an undiscovered retained placenta… but anyway, I was distraught because I thought that I was failing my baby, condemning him to illness, lack of bonding etc. etc. I rang all sorts of experts for help. Finally, I admitted defeat. Just after that, my NCT teacher admitted that she hadn't been able to breastfeed any of her children, but that she wasn't 'allowed' to say so because it gave the wrong impression. It would have been so helpful to hear her story, and the NCT would be more helpful if they showed all sides of the story rather than singlemindedly repeating a mantra, assuming if they say something enough it will become a reality. They are unaware, i think, of the consequential guilt their messages occassionally cause.

  • @jencull (jen)

    >Don't have experience of this organisation but I have heard of it and don't want to experience it. Any group, unintentionally or not, that creates feelings of inadequacy in parents is to be avoided. Jen

  • The Paw Relations

    >I agree with you wholeheartedly.

    Surely the ideal should be for women to have a safe comfortable experience of birth where the health of the mother and child is paramount.

    I am unable to have children naturally and indeed felt that I had failed at the one thing women where 'built' to do. However I have two healthy and happy children, so where's the failure?

    Understanding is needed, not beating with a stick when down

  • Redbedhead

    >I have just sat nodding through your comments. We let our NCT membership lapse after doing the classes as I just really didn't feel that I could support them anymore.

    We did classes with them and they were great for certain things but the teacher clearly didn't approve of my medicalised delivery (section for a premature breech baby due to pre-eclampsia) despite it being a decision both H and I felt comfortable with, both in the interests of us and our daughter's health. Not what you need when a hormonal new mother. I got the very strong impression that I was a disappointment and I just thought 'sod this'. I don't need to be made to feel like that. So I walked away and am very happy with that decision.

    I am sure there are some fab NCT teachers, but I think they would be fab without the backing of the NCT, just because of who they are and how they put their message across.

  • Crystal Jigsaw

    >I don't know enough to give a opinionated comment but I do remember a woman who lived in my area, who was a member and did lots of admin for them, secretarial stuff I think it was. She was really snooty too! She used to pipe on about the NCT to me when Amy was first diagnosed with autism and I used to ignore her, mainly because I found her to be a right know-all!!

    Sorry, not a very nice comment to your very well written post.

    CJ xx

  • auntiegwen

    >I went to the NCT in Edinburgh 18 years ago when I had my first. I felt a bit out of place there because I was all for as much pain relief and intervention as you can give me birth. And I swear to God, I was asked if I was going to eat my placenta.

    Strangely enough I ended up having a completely natural childbirth with no pain relief and went on to have 2 and 3 the same way at home but the way it was presented to me just didn't resonate.

    A baby at the end of the experience was the only result I wanted.

  • jumblyMummy

    >Ooh, my post today was about NCT too, but on a much more lighthearted theme.

    My views on NCT are similar but not as strong but I guess if you've been involved directly then these things can push you over the edge.

    I've said before that I am extremely grateful for the lessons I learned, and I'm glad of the direction they gave me but that I strongly feel they should offer more support and advice about the types of birth that even they recongise are experienced by more women in this country than the ideal natural birth they harp on about.

    My gripe is that by focussing so much on how an 'intervention' birth is the source of all evil, and how mums who don't breastfeed are the cause of society's wrong, they instill a level of guilt in anyone who doesn't meet that ideal.

    In my NCT class there is not one single woman who managed BOTH a natural birth and to breastfeed successfully. That's normal, and I will that NCT would embrace that and help people to feel confident about the bits they CAN do.

  • mummy limited

    >I was extremely lucky with my NCT experience but I think that had more to do with the group than anything else as we are all laid back about each others choices and have kept in touch.
    I do remember the tone being quite confrontational on regards to dealing with midwives and doctors and was given the impression that I would have to fight for the birth I wanted. I found the reality to be totally different and the staff bent over backwards to keep things as low key as possible.
    I've heard stuff before about them feeling woman have issues woth their own experiences and that is just a cop out on their part. Such a shame as you are just the kind of person they need.

  • Hayley

    >Awww hun! Sorry to hear you had an awful weekend! Experiences like this only reaffirm the negative views people have of the NCT, myself included in recent years. xx

  • Whimsical Wife

    >I went to an NCT group once – that is all ๐Ÿ˜‰

  • Sandy Calico

    >We went to NCT classes. We made some friends for life.
    Basically our teacher lied to us in two fundamental areas. She said 'everyone can breastfeed' and 'labour isn't painful'.
    Those in our group that had medicalised birth experiences or difficulty in breastfeeding were made to feel like failures. One of the babies in our group became ill because his parents refused to give him formula when breastfeeding wasn't working.
    Great post and I'm sorry you felt like you couldn't continue with an organisation that has done so much good in the past. I hope you can help in other ways. Is there another breastfeeding support group near you?

  • Notes to self plus two

    >Hannah, I echo the sentiment that you are exactly what they need. But praise you for walking away, there loss hey x

    Sandy – I have just been to NCT and they too told me that 'everyone can breastfeed' and 'labour isn't painful' – amongst other things.
    Oh darn, did they lie ๐Ÿ˜‰ xx

  • Josie @Sleep is for the Weak

    >I walked away from my NCT group, and most of friends, earlier this year for what I imagine were the same reasons, for that same gut feeling.

    Good for you honey. Proud of you x

  • Sandy Calico

    >Notes to self, yep, I'm afraid so. Childbirth is also the most amazing experience and I'd do it again tomorrow – pain and all x

  • Kate

    >I went to the NCT and there were lots of good things that I got from it and then there was the stuff I had to come to terms with that my first birth was nothing like the story books – in short 47 hours of labour and medical intervention on a major scale. Subsequently I have dealings with local NCTs on a business basis and have not been impressed. In many ways I think they could do with being trained in polarity coaching which is all about holding both sides of a point of view and seeing what is good in each. Reading your post what I am left with is the thought that another organisation is going to be gifted with your passion and intelligence when you decide where you will volunteer next.

  • zooarchaeologist

    >Local NCT here seems to be full of people sheltered from the real world and totally full of themselves. I have never felt so belittled and been as bullied as in the company of the women I met there. Suffice to say I have nothing to do with those people anymore.

    Our NCT BF counsellor has been the subject of many complaints from professionals (i know my HV told me). I think that they need some sort of regulation, they do more damage than good.

    The reputation that the NCT are getting from this silly campaigning is damaging to the organisation. I left the main organisation a few years ago as I don't agree with the campaigning and don't wish my money to contribute towards it. Its a shame as I think they lose a lot of people that way.

    Why not start an alternative organisation, I think there is a need!

  • T-J Hughes

    >As an ex-Volunteer Manager for a national charity, it is such a shame to hear about any volunteer walking away from an organisation because their views are not listened to or valued.

    I too have recently resigned from NCT, as it no longer meets my needs as a Mum. But, I am still meeting people from the local branch who are getting more disillusioned by the 'Head Office v Branch' dilemma.

    Most people who volunteer their time to a cause do it to help people in their local area. National charities must recognise this otherwise they will be competing with their ex-volunteers who will be setting up their own support networks to do the 'grassroots' work they want to do.

  • mocha beanie mummy


    Just, brilliant.

    I went to NCT classes, did the home water birth, and was made to feel like a hero. All it did was make me feel uncomfortable, and surprisingly, a failure when I had to go in after delivery.

    Oddly and THANKFULLY, I'm no longer in touch with any of the NCT folk from my antenatal classes because of this clique atmosphere which was impressed upon us all. They all made me feel incredibly uncomfortable, and I applaud anyone strong and bold enough to walk away.

    EXCELLENT post, thank you so much. xx

  • Dougalfish

    >So sad to see that so many had a bad experience of NCT classes. Complain to the teacher's employers – the NCT – otherwise there will be no change. It's also a shame that this seems to be a lot of people's only experience of the NCT – lots of volunteers work very hard at running groups and nearly new sales in their local community and make a great deal of difference. You don't say whether you walked out because of a problem with the organisation or the local branch. I agree that some branches are great and some people give the organisation bad press because of how opinionated and judgemental they are. I agree the organisation needs 'normal' people like you and the new president is a long-standing volunteer and hopes to make changes that support volunteers and branches. Can I play devil's advocate and suggest that you volunteer for your region instead of your branch?

  • Martini Mummy

    >I am so with you on this post. I don't regret doing our NCT classes – we made some good friends – our teacher was appauling and gave us biased, unhelpful advice. Also, if I'd heard one more comment about St. Thomas' 'forcing' people into emergency c-sections, I may well have committed murder – especially since I subsequently found out that was absolutely not the case. Bad, bad NCT organisation.

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