Sounds of Birth
Did you know making sounds helps in childbirth?
When you hear the phrase “sounds of childbirth” what comes to mind?
Maybe Hollywood birth scenes with women screaming or cursing painfully grabbing their husbands hand. What if I told you that sounds are part of the physiology of birth, and they can help birth along.
What kind of sounds? There are several kinds of sounds that not only tell me how far along you may be in labour but also help the baby travel down the birth canal.
How? Think of it from the anatomic point of view. The diaphragm is a sheet of muscle situated under the lungs and its responsible for inhalation and exhalation. There is a definite connection with the “2nd diaphragm”, the pelvic floor, when relaxing, pushing or baring down. In addition, during late Pregnancy the uterus and the diaphragm are in close proximity so they interact. Sounds are made with breath as it comes out pushed by the diaphragm and modulated by the muscles in your throat.
We know that deep breath is a part of relaxation and pain management. We know that vibrations relax muscles. And we know that open, vibrating throat usually means relaxed pelvic floor.
What do sounds do? Sounds add vibration to breath making them the perfect combo for pain management and for pelvic floor muscle relaxation , both nudging the baby down, and “opening” the way.
The main sounds of physiological childbirth are: • The Low or descending moan • The low Ahhh…! • The growl or moo. • And the power grunt
I do not include high pitched sounds as they usually mean there is tension or fear, so, when present, they need to be “brought down”
Why are these sounds helpful?
When you breathe through your diaphragm, you “massage” the uterine muscle which in turn relaxes any present tension and thus pain. All the while enhancing the useful contraction that nudges the baby down.
When you do it by “moaning” or “ahhing”, the vibration caused by the sound also relaxes and softens the lower uterine muscle favoring dilatation. The pelvic floor muscles also relax facilitating passage through the birth canal.
It is important to keep these sounds low and grave as the wider vibrations mean that the vibrations are low reaching. They also have an effect on the “openness” and “looseness” of both the throat muscles and the cervical and vaginal tissues.
Sounds can also come from a place of empowerment. What do I mean? Have you ever heard the sounds Serena Williams makes when she executes a great service shot? She grunts. This deeper sound that accompanies an effort, not only empowers it but it also feels good and relieving.
In the childbirth context we love to hear grunts and moo’s as it as it usually means baby is about to arrive. (transition) Moms are usually reporting a need to go to the bathroom, which means baby’s head is traveling the last stretch. the vaginal canal and the main job now is to gently stretch the tissues and muscles of the pelvic floor (perineum). At this point the grunts nudge the baby more effectively and the lower vibrations also help loosen the tissues.
So my suggestion is, follow your body’s lead at each stage of labour, low moans at first and growls and grunts later you can throw in some “raspberries” to loosen your face and throat muscles and pelvic muscles. Singing helps too. Whatever makes you feel good, powerful, calm and happy, bringing relaxation, release and opening.