Open Mouth, Open Cervix

So many women are afraid of being noisy in birth. You would not believe the number of women I have spoken to who are afraid of making noise, vocalizing, etc... during labor and birth.

I believe it is a biproduct of our culture. Women, a few years ago, were taught to be seen and not heard - this belief is still prevalent in some subcultures of Americana. And, more recently, women are 'supposed to be' poised, confident, and in control. Regardless if you are of the 'seen and not heard' camp or the 'poised, confident, and in control' group, there is little room for noisy birthing there.

One of the simplest 'tricks' in my bag is to simply make noise. Women who seem to be doing so well with labor, then suddenly blurt out that they can't go on, they need some help, they need an epidural - those women I immediately encourage to make some NOISE.

I am not saying that every woman needs to be a noisy birther, but there is great evidence to suggest the correlation between the vocal chords and the cervix. And, any of us who are physically active out there can attest to the stress relieving, and thus, pain relieving qualities of simply making noise.

Now, not ANY noise is good noise - it has to be a certain type of noise. It doesn't matter if it is loud or quiet, but it does matter what form it takes. Positive noise includes:
  • Open glottis
  • Deep breathed
  • Relaxed jaw
  • Resonating
Some examples of these noises are vibrating hums (when the jaw is relaxed), horse lips (per Ina May Gaskin), ooohs, aaahs, uuuuhs, naughs, and even singing.

Singing is an amazing vocal labor relaxation technique. It helps to control your breathing, encourages deep breathing, and keeps your vocal chords, jaw, and body relaxed. It also works through distraction from contractions and focus on resonation. And, just for viewing pleasure:


Lyndsey said...

So true! In my labor, I was VERY vocal, and it felts so GOOD to be vocal...I'm not sure I could have tolerated all the sensations without expressing myself with low guttural noises.

...love Maegan said...

man, I totally agree. I have not been pregnant or given birth, but when I am in any other pain ...including menstral cramps, the noise-making helps TREMENDOUSLY... psht. seen and not heard. bullshit! :) Great post.

Jill said...

Couldn't agree more! Constant bellowing was my best coping technique during labor. Screw visualizations of waves or flowers...just moo like a cow! :D

Kate said...

Loved this post, 2 of the videos were especially beautiful and moving! Awesome! I've already told my husband it's going to be very noisy, as I'm already a big moaner on the off-times I get sick, haha, and..... ever time I skim across the subject line for this post my brain reads: Open Mouth, Insert Cervix.

Michelle Potter said...

"Singing is an amazing vocal labor relaxation technique. It helps to control your breathing, encourages deep breathing, and keeps your vocal chords, jaw, and body relaxed. It also works through distraction from contractions and focus on resonation."

Thank you, thank you for telling me this! I am a person who doesn't like to make noise. Not that I care what other people think if I do, I just have no desire to. (I'm more a "bite my lip" type.) But I DO like to sing, and it never would have occurred to me to sing in labor! I probably would have tried to "fake it" with making noises, and felt awkward and uncomfortable. Now I'll just sing! :)

Anonymous said...

During my first birth I only made ladylike whimpers because I was inhibited by the hospital environment. I had my second at home and was astounded by how much my roaring reduced my pain!

Anonymous said...

I was VERY surprised the first time my husband and I were intimate after having a baby just how much I sound in labor like when I climax.

It was almost distracting the for the first few months, but it has turned now into a sweet reminder.

Kathleen said...

I am all for supporting whatever is helpful for a natural birth. For me, it was utter and complete silence until I pushed. It was in the silence that I was relaxed and any talking, including that of others, bothered me. I had a 40 hr labor, including 4 hrs of pushing, with a 9+lb, 95%ile head circ. baby and I think the silence actually helped me sustain energy for that long. Hynobirthing talks a lot about many cultures where women are silent during birth...I put that out there because I think it ALL needs to be acceptable. (One more FYI- the vocal folds actually close-muscles activated-during any form of vocalization.)

Anonymous said...

Thank you for those videos! Every one of them made me cry and laugh for joy at the same time!

sweetirishCT said...

what a great posting! thank you for saying it :) i am a labor/delivery nurse, and have seen a few woman 'scream their kid out', but never fully appreciated it until i did it myself. being vocal in labor is so very natural, and can actually be helpful to those attending the birth. it's true that the sounds you make change as you hit transition (7-10cm dilated) and again when the urge to push comes. i had a wonderful birth of my baby caitlyn just this past dec 26th, attended by my friends who work with me. they still joke about how you could hear me at the nurses station, and i was in the farthest room with the door closed, in the shower with the bathroom door closed. :) but they knew i was 'pushy' from the sounds i was making and came to my room, and caity was delivered into the hands of 9 people who have loved her since we knew she was growing in my womb. it was amazing, and i wouldn't have changed it for the world!

Tina said...

I was shusshed in my fourth hospital birth, I was told I was scaring the first time mommy in the next room. All four of my babies were med free.

This videos made me teary adn gave me goosebumps.

Coco said...

Those videos are just simply beautiful! I cried at each one! What a wonderful way for those women to use their gift from the Lord to comfort them and bring their babies into this world. Thank you so much for posting these!


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