Vocalisation in labour

By Suzanne Swan

Our Active Birth Workshop or Antenatal Private Session is led by advanced childbirth educator and senior yoga teacher, Suzanne Swan. Suzanne has been doing this work for over eighteen years and her experience affirms that having the partner involved in the birth process, working hands on as a team with the mother, promotes a positive birth experience and enhances family bonding.

Birth is a joyful occasion. When we are present to the sensations of labour, we notice that the body sends us signals asking for attention. The body‟s signals are asking for energy and you can give it attention in the form of sound. Receiving what it needs, the body will open and as it opens, the sensations will be reduced and the duration lessened as healing begins.

You can raise your vibration with sound to ease the strong sensations of labour. In traditional cultures, experienced mothers sung to the woman through labour, surrounding her with sound so as to help shift her consciousness. This sound bath helped the labouring woman: her body could work to give birth and her consciousness could be with her baby.

Sound raises your vibration. The sound that heals you will be a tone that is particular to your individual needs. Each of our organs has its‟ own note. When sound is offered to the muscle in labour it can nourish the body. When one sound becomes less effective, another one can be found. In this way, strong sensations in labour can be decreased and the whole body nourished through the hours of giving birth. In labour the low sounds create more space than high notes.

Midwives know that when a labouring woman feels safe, private and undisturbed she will move unrestrictedly and make sounds uninhibitedly. In traditional cultures, experienced mothers sung to the woman during labour, surrounding her with sound to help shift her consciousness. This sound bath allowed the labouring woman’s body to work towards giving birth, and her consciousness to be with her baby.

Effective sounds for labour & birth are:
1. The ‘hummming’ sound

· Make a low humming sound with your lips closed but jaw relaxed

· the vibration of the lips increases the release of endorphins and other relaxation hormones.

2. The ‘arhhh’ sound

· make a long ‘arhhh’ sound. The sound opens the throat and with you visualizing the pelvic bowl opening you become wider and wider as more air is released. Experiencing the correlation between your relaxed throat and your relaxed bottom.

· remember to drop your chin to allow the sound to travel down and out

Vocal toning helps you to:

· relax and open the muscle fibers in the pelvic bowl, allowing the pelvic floor to open with more ease and help you birth your baby more quickly.

· create the optimum level of hormones and chemical action in the body for birthing your baby

· you may find that during labour, the low tones will create more opening than the higher tones. A low deep ‘arhh’ is going to be more effective than a high ‘arhh’.

General Toning

Toning is experimenting with "notes‟ that resonate most profoundly with your body. It's simple.

1. Take a deep breath, pick any note and sing it.

2. When you run out of breath, take another deep breath and keep going. Intend the sound to the place you want to open and relax. The essence of sound is to resonate and heal the parts of our body that need balance.

3. "Your‟ note is the note that most resounds in your body.

4. Another note will come when your body's need for that sound has been fulfilled.

5. Tone for five minutes.

6. Stop and be silent. It is said by the Hindu Vedas that “all sound is aiming towards silence”.

In labour, toning works if the woman does it herself, or she is silent, with the toning of others surrounding her. Toning relaxes and opens the muscle fibers, allowing the cervix to open with more ease and the birth to happen more quickly. Toning helps created the optimum level of hormones and chemical action in the body and increases the endorphin level, the body‟s natural opiate.

A note about facial tension

A relaxed forehead and an open throat are indicators of an open and receptive pelvis. Ina May Gaskin (2003) observed that there is a strong connection between the mouth/throat and those of the cervix…. She said it is easier to figure out how to relax the jaw more easily than your bottom.

Discovering your baby’s own unique song

This is a beautiful story by Alan Cohen. When a woman in a certain African tribe knows she is pregnant, she goes out into the wilderness with a few friends and together they pray and meditate until they hear the song of the child. They recognize that every soul has its own vibration that expresses its unique flavour and purpose. When the women attune to the song, they sing it out loud. Then they return to the tribe and teach it to everyone else. When the child is born, the community gathers and sings the child‟s song to him or her. Later when the child enters education, the village gathers and chants the child‟s song. When the child passes through the initiation to adulthood, the people again come together and sing. At the time of marriage, the person hears his or her song. Finally, when the soul is about to pass form this world, the family and friends gather at the person‟s bed, just as they did at their birth and they sing the person to the next life.