Belinda Phipps

The chief executive officer ofthe National Childbirth Trust responds to an article by Brian Viner, who suggested that the trust advises against pain relief in childbirth
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The Independent Online

Along with Brian Viner ("How long has Kate Winslet been pregnant?", 5 October), the National Childbirth Trust wishes Kate a very special and memorable birth, in accordance with her wishes. Indeed, if she were to attend an NCT antenatal class (as anyone can), she would undoubtedly come away with the abiding impression that, when it comes to the birth of her own baby, the only opinion that really matters is hers.

Along with Brian Viner ("How long has Kate Winslet been pregnant?", 5 October), the National Childbirth Trust wishes Kate a very special and memorable birth, in accordance with her wishes. Indeed, if she were to attend an NCT antenatal class (as anyone can), she would undoubtedly come away with the abiding impression that, when it comes to the birth of her own baby, the only opinion that really matters is hers.

Some women want least to try to have a delivery with minimal intervention if at all possible, while others say they'll probably start screaming for an epidural the second their waters break. The point is that the function of NCT antenatal classes is not to make pregnant women feel like failures if they express a desire to have pain relief handy "just in case", any more than it is to promulgate caesarean sections as de rigueur for busy executives with meetings to attend.

As for being "gung-ho about rejecting pain relief", well, one thing the NCT is gung-ho about is that expectant mums be given the opportunity to decide for themselves what's best for them, based on the best information available. We would no more "brainwash" Kate into eschewing any form of pain relief than suggest she pops over to Hampstead Heath and gives birth behind a tree, Native American style, when her time comes.

The NCT is all about enabling women to make informed choices about the kind of birth experience they wish to have, and to support them, wherever practicable, in making their wishes come true. We have heard too many horror stories from traumatised and disillusioned new mothers who were not given the information they needed when it really mattered, to give up on that principle. And the camomile tea is optional!

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