In Which SouthwarkBelle Says Something Nice About The NCT

The following statement may come as something of a surprise to regular readers of this blog.

Well done the NCT!

No seriously.

Last month I wrote about a new piece of research showing that inducing labour wasn’t as problematic as is often made out. I included a quote from the NCT website:

Induction of labour may set off a ‘cascade of intervention’, and before you know it you may be drawn into having drips, electronic monitoring, epidurals and all the trappings of a medically complicated, high-tech birth

The website went to to suggest a variety of dubious, unproven and expensive “alternative medicine” ways to start labour.

I thought I would send the NCT a link to my post and suggest that they update their website. I’ve been quite critical of them but it seemed only fair to be open about that and give them the opportunity to respond. They did reply, but to be honest I wasn’t holding my breath.

Now I’m not claiming any credit for what happened next, the page was very clearly out of date so the NCT  may well have been working on it anyway. Also Pseudoscience debunker in chief Ben Goldacre is speaking at the NCT conference this weekend which may have been a nudge. I tweeted him a link to my post today and got this, very encouraging response:

(although I would add that the page was current when I wrote my post so I’m at most 3 weeks out of date!)

Sure enough if you go to the NCT page now (here) the scare story buzz words are gone, no more “cascade of intervention” and no more unproven, expensive alternative remedies either.

So, genuinely, well done NCT for responding to evidence and for removing misleading information that could have been very worrying to overdue pregnant women.

There are plenty of other things I could pick fault with on the website still, but it’s a good start, I’m keeping everything crossed for more of the same.

I’ll even say it again,  well done NCT.


3 responses to “In Which SouthwarkBelle Says Something Nice About The NCT”

  1. Southwarkbelle, this is the story of the deleted woo 🙂

    NCT's website has some historic articles on it. Some of the stuff on the website is old, and comes from paper copies of out of date info sheets, sometimes written by volunteers ages and ages ago, and which have not gone through the peer review process fir new stuff we have had for many years now. Part of my (very part time) job is to curate the website and update and amend and remove where applicable. This takes time. I'm now not sure of the timeline of the deletion you noticed – there have been several updatings (not all quackery related!) in the pipeline for a while, and there still are some, and I can't find when this one was done. It's even possible you found an old document that had not been removed (I've found an ancient one myself, just tootling round the website – something from 2002 that has stuff we would never say now, and probably didn't much even then).

    Recent stuff from NCT is good quality – we covered induction in depth in our journal Perspective in March this year, and reminded teachers about evidence-based teaching . Alt/comp stuff comes up in classes from parents, and the teacher's role is to point out that much of it has no basis in research, and to help parents sort out the myth from the possibly harmful from the irrelevant, but without sneering or dismissing.

    The website is improving, our paper publications are improving, and I would say they lag behind the usual practice of today's NCT teachers and breastfeeding counsellors. I'm a tutor – I know what we teach our practitioners – and I assess and I observe other practitioners. I know what I tell parents, too. I know on occasions I have been misunderstood or simply not believed when I have shared something I know is soundly backed up by research, so presentation is important, too. I am part of a team writing guidance on specific topics and how to explain the evidence/state of research around them.

    Happy to answer questions or discuss this or anything else further with you – take it to private messaging if you like.


  2. Hi Heather, thank you so much for taking the time to leave a comment.

    As to when the alteration was made I can only say that the quotes I gave were on the page on September 8th when I wrote the original post. I let the NCT know about this on the 10th and they said they would look into it. Since then a very minor re-write has happened which isn't much more than removing the sections I quoted but which changes the tone of the induction section and removes the woo so that's great! I don't think the version I quote was a forgotten old one as it was easy to find on the site and it's also quoted in a Scientific american blogpost on the same study (linked to in my original post).

    Anyway, it doesn't really matter when it was changed or why, I'm just really pleased to see the woo and scare stories being taken down.

    It's great that the NCT is updating the website. So many women seek pregnancy information online now and there is a huge amount of it out there, but it's incredibly difficult to know who to trust. It would be great if the NCT site could be a reliable, non-judgemental, evidence based resource for all pregnant women to turn to.

    If it would be helpful there are a number of other areas that concern me on the website, I'm happy to discuss those by PM (but you'll need to follow me on twitter!)



  3. also to add – my own NCT teacher was strongly biased towards home and natural birth, with a bit of Woo thrown in, but that was over 5 years ago so may be out of date. However, only a few months ago a friend of mine was given a list of CAM remedies by her NCT teacher at the first class, not at the request of the parents who were mostly pretty horrified about it. As an example, they were told that accupuncture is 80% effective at getting the baby into the right position for labour and works by “energies” so perhaps a bit more work needed on some of the teachers still too!


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