Quick fix NCT or hypnobirthing may leave you unprepared for real birth and parenting

I was saddened to read that the editor of Grazia blames her traumatic birth experience on NCT. But after reading more about her story, it’s clear that her negative experience stems from the sort of ‘quick-fix’ approach to pregnancy classes, that rarely work.

Her polemic rant focusses on how her NCT classes led her to fear medical intervention and to feel a sense of failure, that has taken her years to get over. 

I was sent the article by one of my recent class members (also picked up by other media outlets here). Luckily, she did not share the same negative experiences: “I did feel misled by my hypnobirthing course but found your classes much more balanced/honest and open to different birthing options. I did initially feel pretty traumatised by birth though (luckily it disappeared quickly).”

Editor of Grazia Magazine, Natasha Pearlman gave an interview about her traumatic birth 

I too sometimes worry about what I hear about NCT and also about hypnobirthing. Especially when people report learning that if you breath and get into a positive frame of mind, birth won’t be painful. This is too simplistic.

I bring up the subject of pain to think about its meaning in relation to birth. Rather than to be feared, its something to anticipate as an inevitable part of becoming a parent and helping babies with too. Hopefully birth isn’t a bland experience and pain is accompanied by joy, perhaps even extremes of agony and ecstasy.  As I understand it, birth becomes traumatic when we feel out of control. disempowered and lacking in understanding and sensitive care.

I hope to prepare pregnant women and partners to take an active part in their births, to do the best they can, but not to be fixed on a particular kind of birth, nor expectations that there are better or worse kinds.  Over many years of teaching I have come to the conclusion that all births have highs and lows, whether they involve drugs and medical interventions or not.

I responded to the woman who sent the article about the Grazia journalist, to say that it was probably her emotionally present partner who helped her stay focussed and be less passive/more active than the journalist in the article. Also, going to classes, which provided a context for sharing the ups and downs and acknowledging that it could be tough, traumatic and painful at times, would have helped eased her birthing experience.

My postnatal classes hopefully helped too. They are held with others whom you have been with from early pregnancy, in a context where no-one has to pretend everything is straightforward and ‘natural’.

Many NCT and Hypnobirthing courses are short weekend workshops that are convenient, perhaps  quick fixes for busy lives. Whilst inspirational at the time, they can’t provide regular opportunities over a longer time for practicing breathing, birth positions and building relationships in a trusting environment where experiences are shared.

I like to think people emerge less traumatised from their births having attended my full package of yoga, birth and baby classes.

Please leave your comments to let us know what you think. Or email me confidentially if you prefer.