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Common Knowledge Trust approached Jeanne Ohm, Executive Coordinator of ICPA to write some articles about The Pink Kit Method for birthing better™ for ICPA. When asked what aspects of childbirth, ICPA has concerns about, Jeanne wrote back ‘We are concerned about all aspects of birth—1) a woman's right to choose 2) the importance of her being aware of her options 3) the physiological relationship of pelvis and birth’.
For Common Knowledge Trust the goals are slightly different, yet heading toward the same alignment … more positive births and a decrease in birth trauma for us, the mother and our children. CKT’s goals would sound like this 1) Absolutely all of us, as expectant parents, must have both labour management and coaching skills 2) These skills must work for us in absolutely all birth situations. 3) We all share the same human body which we can prepare and develop skills for this unique exercise … childbirth with The Pink Kit Method for birthing better™.
CKT is the collective voice of thousands upon thousands of us … women and men. This does not mean that thousands of us gathered at a conference to nut out how to prepare for childbirth or what skills we could use that suited all births. CKT reflects the stories, the questions, solutions, ideas and musings that we tell each other about our own experiences of childbirth. We remember giving birth and anyone who is with us remembers the experience as well. Childbirth is BIG and remembered.
At the same time, childbirth has been removed from us in several ways over several generations.
Modern families have left behind their diverse cultural knowledge, ‘know-how’, and family support during pregnancy, childbirth and after birth. Although statistics clearly show that we are more likely to die or be injured at any other time in our lives, pregnancy and birth has been embraced by a modern health system including midwives and doctors for several generations. Modern childbirth preparation is entirely different from childbirth preparation in our diverse cultural backgrounds. Labour and coaching skills have not been highly developed in modern societies.
Childbirth in traditional communities varies significantly as to where or with whom a woman gives birth, just as in modern communities. For example, there are cultures where women go alone to birth or are excluded away from their village for months. Cultures vary as to who is present. In some cultures birth is exclusively ‘women’s business’ while in others the whole family is involved and fathers take an active part. Although many cultures have individual people who attend births, this is not a profession. The number of children born into most communities is relatively small, so attending births occurred periodically.
In most cultures, women birthed with relatives rather than a specific ‘birth attendant.’ If a problem occurred a healer or spiritual guide would come. Some cultures had no concept of birth attendant, whoever was there at the time helped. In some cultures, the birth specialist were men, while in other they were women. Although special birth attendants were highly regarded, in some communities they were the unclean because they could touch human waste. Because of all this diversity, no wonder modern birth is confusing about where, with whom and how women should birth.
Layered over all of our histories is the development of modern maternity care and its use for the past 3-4 generations. Complete the complexity around childbirth by adding ‘choice’, ‘informed consent’, defining what are medical childbirth interventions and natural childbirth, whether an obstetrician, midwife (CNM or direct entry) is the best care provider or whether home, hospital or birth centre is the best place to birth. So many issues, yet as you read this millions of women are giving birth around the world … one contraction at a time.
Common Knowledge Trust grew by shear accident. A woman who had broken her tail bone at the birth of her child 10 years earlier compared her tail bone to the founder of Common Knowledge Trust. One had a long tail bone, the other didn’t. Several insights occurred from this simple exchange of body knowledge.
Some women had long tails and others didn’t. The woman with the long tail bone had hers damaged in childbirth whereas the other woman hadn’t. Two women from very, very different backgrounds had something in common …tail bones and their birthing body.
Bingo! We could develop body knowledge that any woman could benefit from by knowing about her own birthing body. That one insight led to ways to get the tail bone out of the way in childbirth. Other childbirth stories and physical complaints among pregnant women led to more discoveries about our amazing birthing body. The Pink Kit Method for birthing better™ started to evolve. This occurred in the early 1970s. In 2005, The Pink Kit Method resources are now available to you.
The insights along the way have been many, yet occurred over time.
Telling our birth stories were the source of knowledge and important. They were told on several levels. We spoke about what time we went into labour, when our waters broke, when we got fully dilated and what time we delivered. We spoke about what ‘they’ did to us … both what we liked and mostly what we didn’t like. Our own perception of the experience. ‘My back hurt all the time.’ ‘It didn’t hurt as much as I imagined’, ‘It was worse than I could have imagined’. etc Men had the same body, so they could feel the same things in their body which helped them coach us better. All women had the same body with minor differences. Those differences were very important and helped us focus our own preparation and labour management. All women laboured the same way … one contraction after another until our baby came out of the same hole. We exhibited behaviours in labour that indicated whether we were coping or not. All birth professionals admired women who managed their labours well and loved to see couples work together. When women, birthing in hospitals, birth centres and at home, managed labour well, the birth professionals were more relaxed. Women with health issues still wanted to manage their labours and have positive birth experiences, as did women who chose hospital and doctor care. Women planning or requiring a non-labouring delivery still wanted to feel part of the process.
If we stuck to the body, passed on practical, real, effective and easy to use labour management and coaching skills, people were willing to learn them regardless of the diversity in ethnic background, religion, beliefs, health issues, choices, education or other. The skills worked in absolutely all birth situations.
The evolution of The Pink Kit grew from the stories that we told about our physical experience of birth (the other issues such as what ‘they’ did or didn’t do are not the scope of CKT) and what each of us could do to:
Manage our labours better. Have our partner, husband, friend or relative be a very good labour coach. Resolve the ‘too intense’ sensations of labour. Know what we were doing rather than being carried by the experience. Prevent or lessen physical and emotional birth trauma. Increase a positive birth experience in and around all the medical assessments, monitoring and procedures.
There were many other people and organisations working on broader issues that have changed maternity care: women’s options, birth plans and choices. There were many people working on the changes that focused on diversifying birth professionals, while others focused on creating birth place options.
From the Stories, The Pink Kit Method for birthing better™ evolved. Common Knowledge Trust became the charitable organisation under which The Pink Kit Method developed the resources now available. We remained focused entirely on preparing our own birthing body, the birthing skills that reflect a woman’s positive childbirth management and coaching skills for our partners/husbands so that they can help us when we are finding the sensations of childbirth challenging.