So much of the work of preparing for birth is learning about your own body and relaxation. I feel like our Pink Kit skills really excel at this, and one of the parts of the kit that I feel does that very well is the Internal Work. It's also one of the parts of the kit that people don't always feel very enthusiastic about :p
I'm in an interesting position of having had three good natural births before I had a “Pink Kit” baby. Now I'm having my fifth baby and have returned to the Pink Kit. We haven't been quite as dedicated with our review of the PK as we were with our initial run through, but we have been getting to each resource. The Internal Work, however, I insisted we start on time and we take the time for it almost every night – only missing an odd night every once in a great while.
The Internal Work is like perineal massage taken to the next level. The tissues and muscles the baby will press on during birth are actually worked. It's easiest to say that you massage the muscles of the birth canal, because that's how you do the massage – a finger in the vagina/birth canal. However, it's truly massaging the muscles that line the pelvis (or the “Minnie Mouse Ears” in Pink Kit lingo). The PK walks through this step-by-step with a guided audio (and a sheet of written pointers) – you can do it with a partner or by yourself.
Regardless of the fact that the Internal Work deals with the muscles of the pelvis and working in the birth canal it lives up to its name – it is work. It's not really a “pleasure” thing! Those muscles can be surprisingly tense, as mine were this time around. I expected that the work wouldn't seem to make much of a difference since we'd done it for one baby, and I'm on my fifth baby now! But I was surprised by the level of tension in those pelvic muscles. I was also surprised that the muscles on one side of my pelvis (the left side) are much more tense than the right side.
At first the Internal Work was quite uncomfortable. The kit discusses this possibility and encourages you to keep it up for a week or so – because after that there will be a big difference. I found this to be true. I could tell a difference after about a week, and after a couple of weeks the relaxation in the muscles was very evident. We've been doing the Internal Work for about four weeks now and I can usually relax fully as Scott does the massage, those it still takes focus for me, and I still use my Breath skills through each session.
Why Is It Important?
As I mentioned above, I had three good births before I used the Pink Kit to prepare for a birth, but I'm a complete convert now. One of the reasons is the Internal Work. My first three babies were natural births, but they didn't come down through the birth canal easily on their own. They wanted to stay high and pushing was a great challenge for me. I felt overwhelmed.
We used the PK and Internal Work to prepare for Galen's birth and he came down with no problem – no midwife needed to “check” me to see why the baby wasn't coming down, or do any uncomfortable procedures to help him. He moved through my pelvic muscles with ease and was born smoothly – I had no tearing or “skid marks.”
I feel strongly that one of the reasons I was able to relax and open fully for him to come was all the work we did preparing my muscles for birth. During the Internal Work you get a sense for what it will feel like to have a baby's head pressing on your pelvic muscles. You get the chance to “practice” relaxing to allow your baby to move through the birth canal. It's hard not to tense that area up, especially since the baby's head presses backwards towards the rectum, which makes us instinctively close up. The Internal Work gives you the chance to understand that feeling and to focus on relaxing through it.
I was able to use many Pink Kit skills during Galen's birth – I used a position that I knew worked well for my body and put Galen in a good position over the birth canal. And I had conditioned myself to relax my muscles and work with my baby's efforts to be born using my Internal Work and Breath skills.
As I prepare for another birth I am eager to do the same work so that I can work with this little one's efforts to be born just as well as I did with Galen's. It's good to know confidently that I have skills to work with my body and to help my baby come smoothly through the birth canal and into my arms.