What About Me In Pregnancy/Birth #4
Today I’m going to tell a Pink Kit birth story from a father’s viewpoint. There are so many powerful motivations that stimulated the development of these birth and coaching skills. One of these was our desire as women to have our husband, partner, friend or relative really know how to help us during birth. With these birth skills based on what we share as humans, this has been truly achieved. So how did these skills develop?
Hundreds of fathers and mothers developed these birth and birth-coaching skills in the early 1970s. Couples wanted some form of a common language, a set of skills they could use while birthing their baby and in whatever situation they found themselves. In other words, couples wanted to participate in the birth of their baby no matter where they birth, with whom or what happens to or around them. Birth skills mattered.
There are two types of birth … either you’ll labor and have a vaginal birth or a cesarean surgical delivery. Because this Birth Story is about a Caesarean birth there are two types of cesareans: you can labor and then have an unplanned Caesarean section or you have a planned or elective C-section. However, from a Pink Kit perspective. Birth is birth. There may be ‘types’ of birth however, you got pregnant to have a baby.
This Birth Story is about an non-labouring cesarean from a father’s viewpoint (and some from the mother’s as well) and how he used The Pink Kit skills. The Pink Kit is now known as Birthing Better.
‘What about …’ can be exchanged with the words … ‘why’ or ‘why not’.
‘Why ….’ would any family want to learn childbirth and coaching skills for an elective/planned/non-labouring cesarean? Some women actually believe that having a cesarean is not having a birth. That is total nonsense and it’s mean spirited. Giving birth by a surgical cesarean is just one form of birth and every mother and father can be totally involved in preparing for their baby’s birth and use birth and birth-coaching skills on the way to hospital, while being prepped and during the Caesearean delivery.
Over the years many Pink Kit families have had elective/planned as well as unexpected/emergency cesareans. At the moment, I’ll share what I’ve been taught by Birthing Better families who are going to have a non-labouring cesarean.
- Our body is still preparing to labour. Our body doesn’t change or even know we are going to have an operative procedure. That means all the hormones, thoughts, fears, excitement and changes are happening. Our Mind knows we are not going to labor and have a vaginal birth.
- We’re going to give birth …. birth is an action and activity word, not a passive experience.
- During surgery, our body will be in someplace and we’ll still breathe. As long as we’re awake and not been given a general anesthetic then we can participate in the birth.
- Our support person will most likely be with us and certainly able us to fill the Time, ease anxiety, fears and work with the natural occurring pain associated with surgical c-sections.
The above four realities have a huge impact on our perceptions and actions during pregnancy and birth. There is no doubt that many, many women express both relief and a sense of disconnectedness while planning and experiencing a cesarean. This mixture of relief and disconnect can produce a sense of loss mixed with a sense of wonder at giving birth … and a defensiveness in a world where there are discussions about the rising rates of cesareans and a strong message that natural birth is best.
There is also a very subtle (not so subtle if you’re on the end of this behavior) judgment that women cast on each other. ‘I had a natural birth and you had a cesarean’ … (no doubt … implying a superiority).
The Pink Kit has always been and will always be about ALL births. The enjoyment to preparing for the birth of our baby and the pleasure of working with our baby’s efforts to be born can and should be full of birth and birth-coaching skills as the foundation for how we fill the Time of doing the activity of getting to hospital, being prepped and during the c-section. Without skills, you will feel disconnected.
A dad-to-be decides
The reason ‘why’ this father got stuck into learning the Pink Kit skills with his wife was simple. He wanted to be more involved with the birth. He loved his wife’s pregnant body, wished he could be pregnant so he wanted to do everything he could to experience pregnancy and birth.
He also knew that his wife had very mixed feelings about possible cesarean surgery. Their obstetrician strongly believed that a non-labouring Cesarean was absolutely essential for her well-being. She knew that a cesarean was the right option for their situation (what their situation was is not important) but she was nervous about the surgery and felt quite a bit of disappointment she wasn’t going to give birth vaginally. She also felt a bit less like a woman by choosing a cesarean even though she knew she shouldn’t feel that way. And she had mixed feelings about the relief she felt by avoiding the pain of childbirth.
She did have some feelings that other women might judge her and was too embarrassed to go to childbirth preparation classes. But she also didn’t want to feel disconnected or like a lump during surgery.
Her brother and sister-in-law had used The Pink Kit and suggested they get one. At the time there had been no decision to have a cesarean so they purchased The Pink Kit. They started to work through the resources at 24 weeks and so enjoyed learning the skills. They were fun to learn. They knew they had to make a decision about a planned c-section by 30 weeks.
Once a decision to have a planned cesarean was made, his wife shut down and stopped having any interest in continuing to learn. This led to a discussion. ‘Why …’ should a father try to convince his wife to continue to learn birth and coaching skills?
He wanted to enjoy preparing for the birth of their child. They had enjoyed the skills! Why not? He couldn’t see why having a surgical Caesarean should stop them from enjoying preparing for their baby’s birth or to use skills while their baby was being delivered.
He said it took two weeks to get her to come around. And another two weeks for her to welcome the idea. During those two weeks, he made certain that every night they spent 15 minutes learning something. Basically he was asking her to let him stay connected and doing something. It was his enthusiasm, planning, and insistence on taking time together that she finally came around.
First, she realized that he did want to get enjoyment and pleasure in preparing for birth. She realized that she was being selfish. Also, she admitted an emotional conflict and belief that if she was going to have a cesarean there was nothing she could do to prepare for birth.
‘What ….’ happened next?
They forgot about The type of birth and focused on the ‘right now’ and the pleasure of preparing for the arrival of their child. It was that simple.
The father just felt wonderful every single day. He loved feeling part of the process. He loved following the process of pregnancy leading to birth. He felt closer to his child and his wife. His friends couldn’t quite understand what he was doing so they decided not to tell people. Instead, they just enjoyed their time together.
‘Why … ‘ not?
Get the gist
Why would a family not want to have a similar enjoyment? Of course, The Pink Kit is languaged in terms of ‘labour’ but families who are preparing for an elective cesarean just edit the language and learn the skills. This also goes for single moms or families extended families besides just mothers and fathers.
‘What … ‘ happened at the birth?
On the day of surgery, the father decided to really make that day very special. They pretended to be in labour. They timed the Braxton-Hicks contractions, giggled a lot, took a walk with a watch and stopped for every ‘contraction’ and breathed together and used the relaxation exercises.
They did this for hours and hours. ‘Why …. ‘ bother? Why not? Birth is such an important Life memory. A child’s birth is something you tell them. Why not tell them about all the things you did on their birth day. The father absolutely loved every moment. He said that the whole experience of time contractions, breathing through them, relaxing with his wife and helping her to get in touch inside her body was so thrilling it brought tears.
Because he was a man who so thoroughly enjoyed his wife’s pregnancy he wanted to experience going into labour and giving birth. Many, many men feel this way. They are often told that birth is ‘woman’s business’. Sure women give birth but birth is a family’s business. Becoming a father is as important a Life Transition as puberty. The Pink Kit skills help to make this big experience fuller, richer and deeper.
‘What about …’ the actual surgery?
This father never skipped a beat. They arrived in the hospital and told the staff that they would still be timing contractions and breathing together. The staff had never seen anything like it but absolutely loved what they did together. After the birth, everyone came in and complimented them and wished more couples did what they had done.
Their doctor came in during one of their ‘contractions’ and waited until it was over. He asked what they were doing. They explained and he was fine. After he explained the surgery, he left and they continued to time ‘contractions’ and work through each one. They giggled a lot.
The anesthesiologist came in and explained as well …. and left. They continued.
Then she was given an epidural but they continued (no longer timing contractions but deciding when to work together with inner relaxation and breathing together). Everyone respected what they were doing.
The father realized is that there is a lot of time to spend waiting for surgery and getting prepped. He said that was just what women who arrived in hospital would experience. People coming and going. He said there is heaps of time to do things together. It not only fills the time, it makes the time meaningful and full of participation rather than just sitting there being bored.
But he said it did something else. Treating the birth of their baby as something special between themselves and having their own tasks which they harmonized as a set of skills created an atmosphere for everyone involved. It stopped being surgery and began to be treated as a birth. He said the staff and doctors were great about what they were doing but he couldn’t have cared less if everyone had made fun of them. They were doing this for themselves.
As she was wheeled down the hall to the operating room, they just treated this as ‘the pushing’ and worked more closely. His wife was moved to the surgery table and they focused on each other, breathing together while she relaxed inside her Pelvic Clock and ‘stayed open.’
He said they had just the most amazing time. Their doctor joined in with their reality. He explained as the head was crowning and gave them a moment to appreciate that. He told them as the shoulders and the rest of the baby delivered! How amazing!
‘What about ….’ after the birth?
The father said after the birth they just enjoyed their time together as they imagined they would have had they had a vaginal birth. There were no more contractions.
Pain still exists
However, after the epidural wore off, she experienced quite a bit of pain and they started to use the breathing and relaxation together. This really helped. Yes, she used pain medication but less often and discontinued sooner because she found that by relaxing and using the Directed Breathing she could manage the pain.
The father also said that periodically during the early days of parenting, they used many of the Pink Kit skills in order to remain calm when their baby cried and during the adjustment in breastfeeding.
‘What about …’ their overall experience?
He said the birth of their daughter was the most incredible experience. He said that experience would never, ever have happened had they not learned The Pink Kit skills and created the birth experience for themselves.
‘What about … ‘ how the woman felt? Well, she said had her husband not pushed her she would have gone into the birth with tremendously mixed feelings. Instead, she absolutely knew she had birthed her baby in exactly the way she had envisioned. She also said no one might understand what they did but becoming a skilled birthing woman matured her in ways totally unexpected.
Remember, this is your baby’s birth. Please take an active part by becoming skilled. Use those skills throughout your baby’s birth journey. You’ll birth better. You’ll feel more confident after birth. You’ll have a wonderful Birth Story throughout Life.
Birthing Better online birth classes are housed in Common Knowledge Trust.