Vocal Toning For Childbirth
Practice Vocal Toning In Pregnancy For Relaxation and Focus
Use vocal toning for childbirth to enhance the physiologic connection between the vocal cords, diaphragm, and perineum.
Benefits of Vocal Toning in ChildbirthVocal toning is the practice of making a low, vibratory sound as breath is slowly released. It can be either a humming sound or a vowel sound that is slowly exhaled.
Vocal toning is a practice that is used by singers, musical therapists, and with certain types of meditation. Vocal toning for childbirth has increased as the techniques used by musical therapists have been applied to pregnancy and labor.
There is a physiologic connection between the vocal cords, the respiratory diaphragm, and the perineum. Vocal toning enhances that relationship and help women achieve focus and relaxation during labor.
While vocalizations are common during childbirth, only one study on sounds in labor was found by Pierce in 1998. Of participants who were taught toning in pregnancy, 86% used it in labor. 61% found it helpful in dealing with pain, 42% indicated it promoted relaxation, and 50% said it helped them stay focused. What is particularly important to note about these responses of these participants, is that they mentioned those benefits in an open ended format; rather than a numerical response to a question.
This study demonstrates the potential benefit of toning as a comfort technique, but no study was found regarding toning as a labor enhancement to make contractions more efficient. Nonetheless, midwives sometimes recommend toning if labor progress is impeded. Particularly the “ohhh” sound, as deep and low as possible, may be used.
The long “o” vowel sound opens the throat, and there is a correlation between a relaxed throat and a relaxed perineum. Women are encouraged to say “ohhhh” and think of opening the pelvic bowl. The o shape can even be visualized as one imagines the round open pelvis opening wider and wider as more air is released.
Practice Vocal Toning In PregnancyMany women feel inhibited making the low earthy sounds in front of others. To over-come these inhibitions, these following guidelines may be beneficial to share with expectant or laboring women:
Vocal Toning and Perineal ControlThis technique takes more practice, but can assist in developing the strength and responsiveness of the perineal muscles to the mother.
Vocal Toning In LaborVocal toning for childbirth is probably used more often in home births than in hospital births.
Oddly, some labor nurses seem to be uncomfortable with the practice of toning and encourage the mother to change to a different form of breathing the nurse is more familiar with. Such behavior explains not only why some mothers are intimidated to use toning in labor, but also gives insight into how inhibitions from others hinder the birth process. After all, if you feel inhibited from saying “oh” in front of someone, how comfortable are you going to be birthing around them?
A simple solution in these scenarios is to go into the bathroom and use the vocalizations while standing in the shower, kneeling in the tub, or sitting on the toilet.
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By Karen Newell Copyright 2011 - 2012 Better Childbirth Outcomes - All Rights Reserved
Camp Hill, Pennsylvania, USA