For decades, professionals such as Ina May Gaskin, Robert Bradley, Barbara Harper, and Maria Iorillo have all said the same thing: when a woman's mouth and throat is loose - so is her bottom. And now we have proof of this: when the throat is open, this opening is reflected in the throat of the the uterus, the cervix.
Part of this is being completely uninhibited. When a woman feels safe and secure enough to use whatever means necessary to birth her baby, without fear of seeming silly or embarrassed, she is more apt to use vocal noises - and this release of tension, as a biproduct, allows any tension in her bottom to release. Consider the very real phenomena of performance anxiety: some people feel it when trying to use the bathroom in public areas, some feel it when singing.. when we feel private, safe, and uninhibited, we are able to open our mouths and bottoms to acheive a goal.
When anxiety sets in, the body reacts by tightening. Fear or anxiety, even the feeling of needing to perform a certain way, creating tension, releases adrenaline (the fight or flight hormone). Adrenaline constricts tissue in the body (think: 'ready to spring into action') and does not allow for softening and relaxing. Imagine when you were really frightened or upset, your vocal register raises, sometimes breaking, sometimes coming out in screeches. These 'upper registers' require your vocal cords to be tight, as your body is when confronted or upset and anxious.
During labor, it is helpful for women to know positive birth sounds and phrases so that she can consiously check her anxiety or fear level and forcefully relax her body to encourage a more easy labor and dilation. A birth partner or doula can listen to the quality and timbre of the laboring woman's voice to assess if it is tight, constricted, or high-pitched.
To encourage better labor sounds, the partner or doula can hum, sigh, ahh, oooh, or even show 'horse lips' in lower-register tones with open glotis. This allows for proper breathing, intonation, moderate distraction, and relaxation. There are many benefits to staying conscientious of your vocal tone:
- Opens the throat, which opens and relaxes the pelvis
- Ensures deep and long breathing
- Promotes relaxation of the mind and body, releasing stress and anxiety, inhibiting 'fear, tension, pain cycle'
- Serves as a productive pain management tool
- Creates vibration in the body, which can relax your muscles
Remember, open throat, open vagina. And for a small taste of it's benefits, here is a woman who sings during her labor, at 8cm, as a way to encourage an open bottom, a relaxed body, and proper breathing.