Exhausted after three sleepless days in labour, Jane O’Hara, then 34, screamed and burst into tears when the midwives and doctors at Harrogate District Hospital told her the natural birth she wanted was not going to happen.
She ended up needing life-saving surgery and 11 pints of blood after a severe haemorrhage. Mercifully, Ivy was fine and is now a healthy 12-year-old.
In recent weeks, the NHS has been rocked by the conclusions of an inquiry into the worst maternity disaster in its history: 201 babies and nine mothers died and another 94 babies suffered brain damage as a result of avoidable poor care at Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital NHS Trust. This has been linked to a culture of promoting natural — that is, vaginal — birth and avoiding caesarean sections.
Blame thus far has been aimed largely at the NHS — but parents have started speaking out online about what they believe has been the role of the National Childbirth Trust (NCT), a leading provider of antenatal classes in Britain, in promoting vaginal births.
“I can absolutely point to key decisions that I made that were influenced by the NCT’s mantra. I was led into a position where I believed I had more control over my birth than I actually did,” says O’Hara, who is now a professor of healthcare quality and safety at the University of Leeds. She believes she was a victim of a “normal birth” ideology that was heavily promoted at the NCT classes she attended.
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Source: The Times, 10 April 2022