Founder of the National Childbirth Trust who was an indefatigable defender of the rights of women to information around birth
The National Childbirth Trust began with two births: one an easy delivery for an unnamed young girl in the East End of London around a century ago, and the other a stillbirth for a woman called Prunella Briance, several decades later. The two mothers never met, but their stories were connected by a doctor whose inspiration led Briance, who has died aged 91, to found the NCT.
He was Grantly Dick-Read, a GP from Suffolk, who became committed to helping women make childbirth an easier and more fulfilling experience. Shortly before the outbreak of the first world war, as a young doctor, he attended a birth in an impoverished area of the East End. The young woman was offered pain relief, but refused. The child was born safely, and afterwards Dick-Read asked the mother why she hadn’t wanted drugs. “It didn’t hurt,” the woman replied. “It wasn’t meant to, was it, doctor?”
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