This gateway is recognised in absolutely all cultures as being a significant transition in a person’s life just as reaching puberty. When we reach puberty, we move from being a child to an adult. When we get pregnant and give birth, we move from being a woman and man to being a mother and father. These are huge changes. Puberty for a woman occurs at one time … menses starts. For young boys this is not as clear a time.
Pregnancy and childbirth is an experience that only women physically experience. There is truth in the statement ‘no one will do the labour except you.’ However, pregnancy and childbirth stimulate emotional changes in both men and women. Many cultures honour the becoming a father. Many fathers exhibit physical and emotional sympathetic symptoms when their partner is pregnant. This has been given termed ‘Couvade symptoms.’ The Pink Kit Method for birthing better
In modern maternity care, the role of the father in childbirth has changed dramatically in the past 30 years.
Up to the 1970s fathers were excluded from the labour and delivery. In some cultures this exclusion existed historically and still exists. Women were left alone in a hospital ward or room while staff periodically came in and checked them. Since the 1970s fathers have been encouraged to support their partner in labour.
As an aside, there are many terms used in childbirth discussions that no one has bothered to define or clarify but we are somehow all expected to know. Do your own research and ask 20 people what a natural birth is, what interventions mean or what a father is supposed to do to support his partner in labour. You’ll discover that we use those terms to mean or imply something significant yet few people have the same understanding.
Since The Pink Kit Method has been used by so many women and men, we have come to find our own set of definitions. Birth is natural, it comes at the conclusion of pregnancy. Birth is natural, so is pain, death, bleeding, long labours, quick births, tears, pain free experiences, tension, relaxation, screaming, quiet breathing and all the combinations you can imagine. Childbirth interventions can be lying down for a vaginal exam, taking a shower if you’re tense, having someone breathe with you, taking castor oil to stimulate labour along with all the medical assessments, monitoring and procedures that people discuss. Fathers, friends and relatives who support a woman can be there yet not know what to do, feel useless, helpless, a failure, know how to breathe with the woman, touch her just right, encourage her or wish someone would give her pain relief because she is so obviously suffering.
Variability is the name of the game in childbirth.
Yet, childbirth is a remarkably same experience for all women. (At the moment we will assume a woman will labour to give birth. Women who plan an elective delivery for personal choice or necessity can still use The Pink Kit Method. Doing so gives expectant parents a sense of involvement and closeness not offered in other types of childbirth education. Many of the skills learned are applicable.) Childbirth is an exercise in plumbing. An object will move through your container. Your job is to get out of the way of the object. In other words, work with the process of opening up for the object and ejecting it. The opening up phase of childbirth is accompanied by a series of contractions that open the diaphragm (cervix). Once the cervix is open and when the object has moved through the tube (pelvis), the contractions begin to eject the object by opening the aperture (vagina).
Not one woman in history or any place on Earth has given birth by a different experience. No baby has popped out of the crown of a woman’s head after a shiver started at her big toe, moving up her body until her cranium separated. No baby has delivered out a mouth, nose or ear. As silly as it sounds, we must remind ourselves of our similarities. Instead people have focused on all the variability’s, diversity and differences. Common Knowledge Trust shares our similarities:
· The childbirth preparation that does prepare our physical container to allow this object to pass through it with less trauma.
· The positive birthing behaviours we can use to work through the process of childbirth even when we don’t like the experience AND in and around all medical care.
· The real and effective coaching skills that help women stay focused, open, relaxed and willing to meet the challenge of childbirth.
Pregnant women and expectant fathers have a specific window of opportunity to prepare for childbirth in the last 12 weeks of pregnancy. The pregnant body is beginning to prepare for childbirth and so is the baby. Our body and baby prepare in their own way but arrive at the same point together which is labour. If a woman needs or plans a non-labouring delivery, her body and baby don’t know that. They are still preparing for labour and birth. Why is childbirth called ‘labour’? It’s hard work. Use The Pink Kit Method and learn the skills to make your work easier.
The Pink Kit Method for birthing better
This means that we must know those parts of our body that are most involved with birth. Because CKT is the collective voice of ordinary people, we explain birth as plumbing: object, container, tube (pelvis), diaphragm (cervix) and aperture (vagina). Mostly we, the container, must prepare so that when the object decides to come out, we can work to open our container through the process of the efforts of our baby. The physical parts of our container must be prepared and as humans we have minds that direct us how to do that.
Humans are gifted with an amazing mind.
We can remember the past and even alter our perceptions or responses of what happened before. We can make plans into the future just as athletes mentally go over the event again and again, we can imagine ourselves working through labour and giving birth. When we prepare our container, we use our amazing Mind. When childbirth occurs, then we can use our minds to implement our skills in how to create space, stay open and relaxed for our child to move through us. It’s vigorous for most of us. Babies are big.
When we connect our mind to our body or yoke them together then we have more control over our body and instinctive responses. For example, all professional or amateur athletes have a sophisticated connection between their mind and body. They’ve achieved that by practice, practice and more practice. Although the ability to run or jump is something that humans do naturally, these athletes do not go into their events just ‘intuitively’ or ‘instinctively’ doing those things. They learn how to do them well.
Unfortunately, we give birth infrequently and have to rely on ‘something’ other than practice to bring good labour management skills to childbirth. That ‘something’ else is the process of labour that keeps going. There is nothing like it in our lives really. Once labour starts, it continues and leads us on whether we have skills or not, like it or not, are coping or not or have a good coach or not. We can use that physiological experience to apply the skills right away at each moment of the process. If we don’t apply the positive skills then we often just react, particularly if there is a lot of pain associated with labour.
We will still breathe in labour whether we breathe positively or scream.
Our body has to be in some posture or position, we can either use positions and postures that facilitate the passage of our baby through our body or we can get into positions we like that slow the birth process and keep us in labour for hours longer than necessary. Although there is a current belief that women will get into the best position, that’s hardly the case just as many women tense up naturally to the pain of childbirth. If the present day beliefs were true that women naturally knew how to give birth, that would reflect by an infrequent use of pain relief or medically assisted births. Women tense up at home, birth centre as well as in hospital.
We cripple ourselves when we believe that external factors are the sole reasons for good or bad births. We leave ourselves feeling victims to the external rather than powerful within ourselves. ‘I blamed my first bad experience on the hospital, doctor, what they made me do and my husband for being pathetic at helping me. Next time, I changed where I gave birth … home, changed my birth provider … a woman midwife; I still had a horrible experience. Then I realised that I had to learn how to birth.’
True power for all of us as women and men is to have personal skills. Childbirth is an event in our lives where it’s easy to get skilled because the event is so similar to all women regardless of where they birth or with whom or who they are. For such a BIG and important event people perpetuated a belief that women should have to respond to the experience ‘intuitively’ or ‘instinctively’ rather than with ‘skills.’ As humans we have many physiologically natural urges besides childbirth. When we get hungry, we can browse on the nearest bush or learn to cook. We all urinate and defecate, but we don’t do it where ever we are sitting, we learn to hold it until we go to the toilet. The operative word is ‘learn’. We can learn to respond to labour contractions, use our minds and yoke our bodies and to choose positive birth behaviours in contractions and between them.
Birth discussions revolve around women taking responsibility for making choices about where or with whom they will birth or what they want done or not done to them. If choice achieved the goals, then we’d all be happy. We have assumed that ‘taking responsibility’ is about making choices. Being responsible requires two different aspects. One is choice, the other is skills not just options. Any woman in her right mind would choose an easy birth, not to tear, to heal well etc. Whether most women would choose home birth would depend on other factors: whether they prefer the hospital, have health issues, young children at home and want a break, home isn’t where they want to birth, it isn’t safe or quiet etc. Not one woman would choose a birth she found too painful, to use pain relief when she didn’t need it, have a major operation if she felt confident and knew she and her baby were healthy or to live with childbirth trauma. All women can have skills. So taking responsibility is just as much about being skilled at doing something so that the choices a person makes are more likely to actualise.
For example, if a woman doesn’t want to use pain relief then she has to have the skills to manage the experience of labour. Such a woman can still have a very painful labour and change her mind about her choice if she doesn’t have the skills to cope and then feel let down or guilty. Shame, blame and guilt are a huge part of childbirth today. A woman may choose a home birth and find that the unexpected happens (for example, her waters break and she doesn’t go into labour after 48 hours) and she ends up in hospital. With skills, she can still have a wonderfully empowering birth.
For the past 30 years birth discussions have revolved around ‘choice’ and ‘informed consent’ (information).
Common Knowledge Trust would like ‘skills’ to form the triad. When we couple skills to choice, we are more likely to have a goal (choice) and take steps to achieve that goal (developing and using skills). When we couple skills to information, we can are more likely to have mastery rather than data. Childbirth skills will only become the common knowledge approach to childbirth when all expectant couples know that The Pink Kit Method for birthing better