National Childbirth Trust

Last updated

Formation1956;63 years ago (1956)
Founder Prunella Briance
Type Charitable organisation
PurposeProvide practical and emotional support for expectant and new parents
Headquarters30 Euston Square, NW1 2FB
United Kingdom

NCT (National Childbirth Trust) is the UK's largest parent charity. [1] Since 1956 it has supported millions of parents through birth and early parenthood whilst also securing major advances in professional practice and public policy. [2]

Charitable organization non-profit organization with a charitable purpose

A charitable organization or charity is a non-profit organization whose primary objectives are philanthropy and social well-being.


It is a movement of parents supporting parents, with 327 local branches and over 5,000 volunteers offering a wide range of activities. These include Bumps and Babies drop-in sessions, Nearly New Sales selling low-cost baby clothes and equipment, and Baby First Aid courses. [3]

NCT’s practitioners provide practical and emotional support for expectant and new parents before and after their baby arrives. Its breastfeeding counsellors and peer supporters support mums with feeding entirely free of charge. Its online information centre and national support line provide information to over five million parents each year. [4]


Breastfeeding an infant. Breastfeeding infant.jpg
Breastfeeding an infant.

The National Childbirth Trust, originally called The Natural Childbirth Trust, was founded in 1956 as the result of an advertisement placed in The Times by Prunella Briance. Briance suffered two traumatic childbirth experiences and set about changing the situation for other women, so that they should be more humanely treated during pregnancy and labour. Briance was inspired by the writings of British obstetrician Grantly Dick-Read, who is regarded by many as the father of natural childbirth, and became the first president of the NCT. [5] At that time the rules of childbirth dictated that women did as their doctors told them.

<i>The Times</i> British daily compact newspaper owned by News UK

The Times is a British daily national newspaper based in London. It began in 1785 under the title The Daily Universal Register, adopting its current name on 1 January 1788. The Times and its sister paper The Sunday Times are published by Times Newspapers, since 1981 a subsidiary of News UK, in turn wholly owned by News Corp. The Times and The Sunday Times do not share editorial staff, were founded independently, and have only had common ownership since 1967.

Prunella Briance

Prunella Mary Briance was Founder of the National Childbirth Trust and a passionate campaigner to improve the health of women and their experience in childbirth. The NCT was founded in 1956 and is a prominent organisation in the UK which provides ante and post natal support for parents. Her work changed the landscape of healthcare provision for maternal health. Briance suffered two traumatic childbirth experiences and set about to change the situation for many women who followed. She advertised in The Times newspaper to find other mothers and supporters to found a new organisation. The response was overwhelming and the organisation grew steadily over the years with local and regional branches. Many of her most radical ideas at the time are now accepted as common practice. She died aged 91 in 2017. The archives of the NCT are held at the Wellcome Library in London.

Grantly Dick-Read British obstetrician

Grantly Dick-Read was a British obstetrician and a leading advocate of natural childbirth.

Briance's advertisement announced "A Natural Childbirth Association is to be formed for the promotion and better understanding of the Dick-Read system. Anyone interested write Box...". The inaugural meeting was held on 29 January 1957 at Caxton Hall with Grantly Dick-Read as one of the speakers. The NCA became the Natural Childbirth Trust in 1958 [6] and the National Childbirth Trust in 1961. [7]

Key dates

About NCT

The charity provides free antenatal and postnatal support and information through its nationwide network of over 300 local branches, run by volunteers. Many of these groups are informal drop-ins, such as ‘Bumps and Babies’ groups, where parents usually pay a small fee to cover the costs of tea and coffee. [9]

Baby Cafés, NCT’s free feeding drop-ins primarily based in deprived areas, were used by almost 8,000 women in the UK last year (2017), providing information and support about feeding. It also provided free of charge training for over 150 women to become breastfeeding peer supporters. [10]

NCT trains peer supporters across the UK to provide support to vulnerable new parents. For example, maternity champions on the Mozart Estate in London’s Queens Park; ‘Parents in Mind’ peer support projects to help mums with poor mental health; and a project in Leeds for refugee and asylum-seeking women. [11]

Criticism and reviews

In January 2013, Kirstie Allsopp, presenter of property-related television shows, sparked press comment when she tweeted, "Lots of people have good NCT experiences, but many don't. This is a very politicised, dogmatic, and in my experience scary organisation." [12] There was further press criticism in the Daily Telegraph when the TV series In the Club , featuring an antenatal class, premiered. [13]

In April 2018, Alex Jones, TV presenter and host of BBC1’s The One Show , published a book, Winging It!, which includes a chapter on her NCT experience, "To NCT or not NCT". Her review is very positive about the charity. “It is expensive and a bit middle-class but it’s the best [money] we ever spent.” She was part of a multi-cultural, London group, “like the United Nations”, who “all left feeling much better equipped to deal with what was ahead". [14]

There was further praise in the press for NCT in June 2018 in the Glasgow Evening Times . Carolyn Lochhead, author of Three Toothbrushes and Other Essays on Motherhood, said: "I didn't know anyone else with children, so the National Childbirth Trust class was fantastic . . . We helped each other through it all - birth, recovery, breastfeeding, weaning, and going back to work. We’re still great friends, five years - and four more babies - later.” [15]

Related Research Articles

Postpartum depression (PPD), also called postnatal depression, is a type of mood disorder associated with childbirth, which can affect both sexes. Symptoms may include extreme sadness, low energy, anxiety, crying episodes, irritability, and changes in sleeping or eating patterns. Onset is typically between one week and one month following childbirth. PPD can also negatively affect the newborn child.

Doula A non-medical companion who supports a birthing woman

A doula is a trained non-medical companion who supports another individual through a significant health-related experience such as childbirth, miscarriage, induced abortion or stillbirth or non-reproductive experiences such as dying. A doula may also provide support to the partner, family and friends. The overall goal of a doula in any context is for their client to feel safe, be informed and feel comfortable, complementing the role of health professionals providing medical care.

Postpartum period period beginning immediately after the birth of a child and extending for about six weeks

A postpartum period begins immediately after the birth of a child as the mother's body, including hormone levels and uterus size, returns to a non-pregnant state. The terms puerperium or puerperal period, or immediate postpartum period are commonly used to refer to the first six weeks following childbirth. The World Health Organization (WHO) describes the postnatal period as the most critical and yet the most neglected phase in the lives of mothers and babies; most maternal and newborn deaths occur during the postnatal period. In scientific literature, the term is commonly abbreviated to Px, where x is a number; for example, "day P5" should be read as "the fifth day after birth". This is not to be confused with the medical nomenclature that uses G P to stand for number and outcomes of pregnancy.

Kirstie Allsopp British television presenter

Kirstie Mary Allsopp is a British television presenter, best known as co-presenter of Channel 4 property shows including Location, Location, Location; Relocation, Relocation and Location Revisited.

La Leche League International (LLLI) is a non-governmental, nonprofit organization that organizes advocacy, educational, and training related to breastfeeding. It is present in about 89 countries.

Sheila Kitzinger British activist

Sheila Helena Elizabeth Kitzinger MBE was a British natural childbirth activist and author on childbirth and pregnancy. She wrote more than 20 books and had a worldwide reputation as a passionate and committed advocate for change.


Mumsnet is a website for parents in the UK. It hosts discussion forums where users share advice and information on parenting and many other topics. Mumsnet also has an Influencers' network with over 10,000 bloggers, vloggers and social media influencers.

Breastfeeding feeding of babies and young children with milk from a womans breast

Breastfeeding, also known as nursing, is the feeding of babies and young children with milk from a woman's breast. Health professionals recommend that breastfeeding begin within the first hour of a baby's life and continue as often and as much as the baby wants. During the first few weeks of life babies may nurse roughly every two to three hours, and the duration of a feeding is usually ten to fifteen minutes on each breast. Older children feed less often. Mothers may pump milk so that it can be used later when breastfeeding is not possible. Breastfeeding has a number of benefits to both mother and baby, which infant formula lacks.


Netmums is a website for parents in the United Kingdom, established in 2000. It operates as a network of local sites, and offers information to both mothers and fathers about parenting. The Coffee House web forum launched in 2004 for mothers to chat, make friends and exchange advice online. As of 2012 the site included over 150 local websites, 500 national meet-up groups for mothers and 1,500 bloggers in its network.

Breastfeeding in public

The social attitude and legal status regarding the practice of breastfeeding babies in open view of the general public vary widely in cultures around the world. In many countries, both in the Global South and in a number of Western countries, breastfeeding in public is common and generally not regarded as an issue. In those countries, laws protect the nursing mother. In many parts of the world including Australia, some parts of the United States, and Europe, along with some countries in Asia, women have an explicit legal right to nurse in public and in the workplace.

A puerperal disorder or postpartum disorder is a disorder which presents primarily during the puerperium, or postpartum period. The postpartum period can be divided into three distinct stages; the initial or acute phase, 6–12 hours after childbirth; subacute postpartum period, which lasts 2–6 weeks, and the delayed postpartum period, which can last up to six months. In the subacute postpartum period, 87% to 94% of women report at least one health problem. Long term health problems are reported by 31% of women.

Breastfeeding promotion

Breastfeeding promotion refers to coordinated activities and policies to promote health among women, newborns and infants through breastfeeding.

Sex after pregnancy is often delayed for several weeks or months, and may be difficult and painful for women. Injury to the perineum or surgical cuts (episiotomy) to the vagina during childbirth can cause sexual dysfunction. Sexual activity other than sexual intercourse is possible sooner, but some women experience a prolonged loss of sexual desire after giving birth, which may be associated with postnatal depression. Common issues that may last more than a year after birth are greater desire by the man than the woman, and a worsening of the woman's body image.

The Baby Friendly Hospital Initiative (BFHI), also known as Baby Friendly Initiative (BFI), is a worldwide programme of the World Health Organization and UNICEF, launched in 1991 following the adoption of the Innocenti Declaration on breastfeeding promotion in 1990. The initiative is a global effort for improving the role of maternity services to enable mothers to breastfeed babies for the best start in life. It aims at improving the care of pregnant women, mothers and newborns at health facilities that provide maternity services for protecting, promoting and supporting breastfeeding, in accordance with the International Code of Marketing of Breastmilk Substitutes.

Maternity leave in the United States is regulated by US labor law. The Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 (FMLA) requires 12 weeks of unpaid leave annually for mothers of newborn or newly adopted children if they work for a company with 50 or more employees. Additionally, several states have adopted laws extending the requirements of FMLA to smaller companies. For the majority of US workers at companies with fewer than 50 employees, there is no legal right to paid or unpaid leave to care for a new child or recover from childbirth. Studies show the current laws disproportionately impact women of color and low-income women, who are less likely to take unpaid leave.

Antenatal depression, also known as Prenatal depression, is a form of clinical depression that can affect a woman during pregnancy, and can be a precursor to postpartum depression if not properly treated. It is estimated that 7% to 20% percent of pregnant women are affected by this condition. Any form of prenatal stress felt by the mother can have negative effects on various aspects of fetal development, which can cause harm to the mother and child. Even after birth, a child born from a depressed/ stressed mother feels the affects. The child is less active and can also suffer from emotional distress. Antenatal depression can be caused by the stress and worry that pregnancy can bring, only at a more severe level. Other triggers include unplanned pregnancy, difficulty becoming pregnant, history of abuse, and economic or family situations.

Midwife Medical professional who practices obstetrics as a health science

A midwife is a health professional who cares for mothers and newborns around childbirth, a specialization known as midwifery.

Postpartum confinement refers to a traditional practice following childbirth. Those who practice it typically begin immediately after the birth, and it lasts for a culturally variable length: typically for one month or 30 days, up to 40 days, two months or 100 days. This postnatal recuperation can include "traditional health beliefs, taboos, rituals, and proscriptions." The practice used to be known as "lying-in", which, as the term suggests, centres around bed rest. In some cultures it may be connected to taboos concerning impurity after childbirth.

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  1. Kerley, Paul (4 May 2016). "NCT: The National Childbirth Trust's 60 years of advice". BBC News. Retrieved 17 April 2017.
  2. "NCT Annual Report and Accounts 2016-2017" (PDF). NCT. Retrieved 1 August 2018.
  3. "NCT Annual Report and Accounts 2016-2017" (PDF). Retrieved 1 August 2018.
  4. "NCT Annual Report and Accounts" (PDF). Retrieved 1 August 2018.
  5. Pregnancy Today
  6. "The NCT in the 20th century", National Childbirth Trust, December 16, 2004
  7. "NCT History". NCT. Retrieved 1 August 2018.
  8. "NCT Annual Report and Accounts 2016-2017" (PDF). NCT. Retrieved 1 August 2018.
  9. "People to meet and places to go".
  10. "Baby Café".
  11. (PDF) or empty |title= (help)
  12. Kirstie Mary Allsopp. Twitter . Retrieved 5 April 2015.Missing or empty |title= (help)
  14. Jones, Alex (2018). Winging It!. Bonnier Publishing.
  15. "Glasgow mum writes the book on new parenthood".