Unleash The Power of Sound in Labour
Listen up ladies.
This is the simplest nugget of birthing advice but it’s super effective and easy to implement so read on and start making some noise!
Find out how opening your vocal chords and singing out in labour can relax and release your pelvic floor. (Oh, did I mention it can also boost levels of oxytocin, create natural pain relief and calm and reassure your baby)
Try this: Try letting out a high pitch scream whilst relaxing your pelvic floor. Impossible? It is for most of us. The throat and pelvic floor work so well in a team that it is very hard to get one to relax without the other. This is great news for women in labour as it means you can use your voice and breath to relax your throat and jaw which more importantly, means releasing and relaxing your pelvic floor.
The throat and pelvic floor form seals at either end of the body cavity. The throat at the top allows air in and out of the lungs and the pelvic floor muscles at the bottom form a seal that prevents our abdominal contents from falling out. The diaphragm in the middle moves down and up as it draws air in and out of the lungs and this creates changes in pressure which result in reciprocal movement in the throat and pelvic floor. Any tension in the throat is translated to the pelvic floor via the diaphragm and the opposite is true of tension in the pelvic floor.
Unless you’re very familiar with your pelvic floor, it is not always easy to notice if it’s tense or relaxed. It is however easy to recognise a tense or constricted voice by it’s tone and the sound of the breath coming from it. A high pitched, shrill or scared sounding voice is demonstrative of a constricted throat and jaw where as low, deep vibratory sounds like argh, ugh, humming and roaring are the sounds that come from an open and relaxed throat. (You might have noticed when you tried your high pitch scream that it naturally lowered in tone to a deeper vibratory sound as you tried to relax your pelvic floor.)
So if you, your partner or midwife notice you’re getting a bit stressed or ‘high pitchy’ they can cue you to make deeper lower vibratory tones that will help release and open your pelvic floor during the second stage of labour.
If it’s not something you’re used to you might feel a bit inhibited making these low earthy sounds in front of others but when your birthing instincts takes over there’s a good chance you’ll be doing it without even noticing. Practicing at home however, especially in front of your birthing partner can really help you find out what sounds resonate deep in your pelvis and it will give your birthing partner ideas of how and when to cue you to deepen your sound.
Try this: Try sounding out different vowel sounds; aghh, ughh, ehh, oooh. Now try humming a low tone or making a deep roaring sound. Really try to send the sound deep into your pelvis. You can even imaging that you are giving birth to the sound.
Can you feel one sound resonate deeper in your pelvis than another? Does the cue of ‘giving birth to the sound’ or ‘sending it into your pelvis’ help you?
Try this: Now try to make these sounds last as long as you can. Do you feel more release or connection to your pelvic floor the longer you hold the sound?
The sounds doesn’t have to be really loud but if you try whispering the sound and then making it with a bit of volume you’ll notice that whispering constricts the throat whilst louder sounds create more opening and resonate deeper in the body.
Repeat these exercise a few times to work out with your birth partner what cues might work best for you to get your sound to release your pelvic floor during your birth.
Making sound with your breath doesn’t just help release your pelvic floor, it has a number of other amazing benefit during labour too.
Making sound encourages longer, deeper breaths which inevitably slows down your rate of breathing. This slowing down of the breath is detected and interpreted by the nervous system which then sends out a message to the rest of your body that you are safe and secure and now is a good time to give birth. This results in increased production of oxytocin, the crucial birthing hormone that initiates and maintains contractions.
Creating these deep, low tones also forms sound vibrations around the body. The vibrations create a sonic massage which stimulate the nervous system to release mood lifting chemicals that encourage you to relax, act as natural pain relief and stimulate production of more oxytocin!
Your baby loves the sound of your voice. It is consistently with them in the womb so it has a hugely calming and reassuring effect on their nervous system. Babies benefit from the sonic massage too, your deep vibratory tones have a relaxing and healing effect on their little nervous systems as well as yours so can be sure that your sound is creating a calm and relaxed environment for your baby as it navigates it’s way into the world.