We've officially dug into the Pink Kit – I'm well into the resources and Scott and I are starting our review together. It feels really good to be doing something proactive and to know that I'm preparing for the upcoming birth of my baby. I have a few friends who have been pregnant with me. One of them has had her baby and the next is due to have hers anytime in the next few weeks. I'm thrilled for them – and at the same time can't help thinking that “oh my, if they've had their babies, that means mine is coming soon!” I'll be greeting the third trimester soon, and the urge to turn inward and prepare is definitely here.
I'd forgotten just how… interesting… working through the Pink Kit package can be with my husband. I've decided he must have been really annoying to his teachers, because he's a perpetual class clown when we're reviewing! I think that he just likes to see me get flustered and smile, because he puts more effort into doing that than it seems he does listening to the skills work! I know, however, from going through everything with Galen, that he's just as dedicated to me. It's good to know that he's with me on this, and that even with laughter and smiles, he's really picking up on what we're learning.
Watch that Breath
We're looking at breath right now. I've found it interesting to watch my own breathing as I focus on preparing for Fiver's birth. Reading about the different types of breath then observing myself is a major lesson in breath. I'm pretty good at sustainable breathing – after all, I've had a lot of babies and you learn how to down a “relaxation breath” when you're about to have a kid. So I've been practicing relaxed, sustainable breathing whenever possible.
But I've really been interested in the “unsustainable” breathing. When do I breath like that? I had a sore spot that I couldn't see very well due to being, well, pregnant, so I had Scott look for me. I started breathing in and out through my mouth almost immediately – this is a very unsustainable breathing pattern, but very common when one is tense and fearful – and I was very scared of the pain of having him check out the bruising/swelling! It's funny that one of the first things that I realized was “I'm breathing in and out of my mouth… panting… and I am super-tense.” Once the moment of panic had passed I was able to think about that, and to think about how panic in labor can lead to that kind of breathing, which just spirals more and more out of control. There's immense value in these kinds of observations because they help you prepare more fully.
What's in a Coach?
It also made me think of the emphasis throughout the Pink Kit of having the coach help “right away.” This is incredibly important. It's easy to balk at the PK (and other methods that have a “coach”) because in our modern culture women don't want a “coach” – they give it negative connotations. I have full respect for women – including those that choose to birth solo. Women can do that. But many women want a support person there.
A support person is useless if they are not trained to help you.
This is where a “coach” comes in – this is a person who has studied/trained to actually be useful during birth. Nobody would question a doula “training” to be helpful to her clients during their births. Don't shortchange your partner, either. A coach needs to understand what is going on around him (or her) – and needs to know effective strategies for making things go smoothly.
If you want your husband or another support person there, they should be able to be a competent coach.
Back in Control
OK, back to the topic at hand – your coach should help you “right away.” If you're losing focus, losing control, etc. a coach should not wait to help you. Pink Kit skills really shine here. Your support person knows immediately several things to try to help get you back on track. The longer you go losing it, the harder it is to regain your composure and ability to deal with labor (and procedures you may be having).
Breath is one of the most powerful tools a coach has. A coach that learns effective breathing for labor can model it for a mother who is having trouble coping with her labor. A woman can copy just what her coach is doing. She doesn't need to think, she doesn't have to move or position herself differently, and she doesn't have to deal with touch that may irritate. She just breathes like he does.
This was one of the best ways Scott helped me during labor with Galen. All I had to do was look at him and do what he was doing. In fact, looking at somebody and breathing with them has been very helpful during all of my labors. It's fairly easy for the coach, and it lets the coach know that they are doing something truly helpful – and it's something that the mother can copy fairly easily. It may take a few breath cycles for her to bring unsustainable breathing (such as fearful panting) back under control, but watching a coach and matching her breath to his makes it possible.
I think breathing is very natural, we all do it every day, but reviewing the Pink Kit and the different types of breath is still incredibly helpful. Learning how to purposefully use breath (and practicing with it) is very empowering for labor. It's also very reassuring to me to know that Scott is learning the same things as me, and will be able to guide me if I get overwhelmed at any point.
This post is part of my Pink Kit Walkthrough with Fiver series.
Read my entire Pink Kit Review.