When you are a Mum with a baby sometimes it's nice to have a bag of tricks up your sleeve that will save your sanity! Here are some of the tools that helped me over the years.
Making up your own bag BEFORE your baby arrives is a good idea but if baby has arrived already it's never too late! This would also be a great gift to give your pregnant friend!
1. A Journal
This is (mostly) your GRATITUDE journal. You may be wondering what this has got to do with sound. Well, I have added it because I know from my own experience that if I don’t feel grateful. I feel “crapful” and won’t feel like doing anything joyful like playing with sound, or anything else for that matter! So, to start with one needs to feel grateful which basically puts you into a better mood.
When you have a baby, life can feel a bit boring or tedious sometimes BUT if you start looking for things to feel grateful for your life will go from tedious to marvellous! Miracles happen ALL the time, such as; You turn the tap on in the shower and warm water instantly comes out and pours all over your tired body washing the day (and baby spew) away…Your husband texts you to see if you need anything from the shops on the way home and he brings home everything you have asked for… You are able to download a book instantly and read a few pages of it while baby was sleeping! You have money to pay for the shopping in your trolley! The sun came out and warmed you up on a cold day! You hear the birds singing beautifully as you are trying settle your screaming baby while taking her for a walk outside.
See? It's pretty easy to find 3 things to be grateful for! The best thing is that when you start noticing these little miracles, more miracles seem to happen… because you take the time to NOTICE them!
I recommend writing down at least 3 things you are grateful for in your journal each day. I usually do this at the end of the day before I go to bed.
You can also use your journal to answer these reflective questions:
This is the first object for your “musical objects” game, where you sing songs that relate to the object. Your baby or toddler can take a lucky dip from the bag or choose a favourite toy - then you sing together a song that relates.
For a mouse, you might sing “Three Blind Mice” or “Hickory Dickory Dock.”
Duck – “Six Little Ducks Went Out One Day”
Frog - “Der Glumph Went the Little Green Frog One Day”
Star – “Twinkle Twinkle”
You will probably think of more songs for these objects and will find more objects to add to your collection. Objects can be found at discount stores or just around the house. Make sure the objects are safe for baby/toddler to play with and supervise at all times.
OMG have we had fun with scarves over the years! We have a large rainbow one in the “dancing room” that we play with, along with a box full of smaller coloured scarves.
There are SO many ways to play with a scarf. My favourite is just putting on some music (classical music is great for this because you get a variety of tempos…fast and slow and everything in between!) and challenge yourself to find as many different ways to move the scarf around as possible!
Babies LOVE watching the scarf float up and down over their head and feeling it gently touch their skin. Hours of entertainment! (well, a few minutes at least!).
Musical Instruments Like an Egg Shaker
There are many instruments you could pop into your SoundPlay bag ... but an egg shaker is the perfect little instrument to start your musical instrument collection! You can find these at your local music shop for sure!
Put on some music and shake the egg shaker along with the music or just explore with your baby the many different ways you can shake and roll your egg.
Remember to choose quality instruments when you add to your collection. Before you buy ask yourself, “Would I enjoy exploring and listening to this?” Plastic instruments don’t break and are colourful BUT they also sound like plastic! Kids deserve and need quality sounds too!
Sound Making at Home
There are many things you can make music with around the home. My babies loved playing with a 30cm piece of plastic chain that I bought from the hardware shop. It rattled beautifully and they enjoyed the feeling of it in their hands ... and mouth...
You will come across all kinds of objects that your baby/ toddler will like purely because it sounds good. For example, cellophane paper crinkles beautifully and pots and pans make cool banging sounds. You can also make things like a mobile with things that jingle hanging from it or shakers made out of a plastic bottle with rice or lentils inside it (make sure lid is secure before handing it to your baby).
Use your imagination and pay attention to the sounds that can be made out of everyday objects that entice your baby’s curiosity!
Other Treasures You Could Add
Use your imagination when you are finding more treasures to include in your SoundPlay Bag and have fun! Other treasures to include in your SoundPlay Bag are;
Put on some music and tap it around where baby can see it moving. Watch him/her tracking the balloon. They LOVE watching the movement and colour!
Put on music outside if possible or loud enough so you can hear it outside and blow bubbles! Notice how much better you feel when watching bubbles floating everywhere! I don’t think it’s possible to feel crappy when blowing bubbles! Unless one pops in your eye! Watch out for baby’s eyes too by the way.
Bells on a bracelet
Jingle bells attached to a soft band/hair tie/bracelet can be worn on the wrist or ankle and make for great dancing.
Twirling ribbons like those used in rhythmic gymnastics (but smaller) are also wonderful for movement to music.
These are great for using in children’s songs and can be made as simply as sticking a cardboard figure to a popstick or using felt.
That's all! If you have anymore ideas I'd LOVE to know about them!
It is very common for women in labour to find a ritual that helps them to cope during those birthy contractions. These rituals become their “THING” that NEEDS to be there for them every single time!!! And if it’s not there they can be triggered into feeling anxious, abandoned and even pissed off! So look out!
Here are some examples of birthing rituals:
Using SOUND as a Birthing Ritual
During my last 2 labours I NEEDED the sound of the bowl during each contraction. It became my birthing ritual. And if that sound wasn’t there and playing in time with my birthy rhythm I noticed I felt anxious about making sounds with my voice, abandoned by my support crew and slightly pissed off about it!
I didn’t make a big deal about it. I just noticed these feelings arise within me. And I want to let you know about this because for those people supporting a woman during labour it is important to firstly NOTICE the ritual that is arising for that woman and then SUPPORT her to continue having that ritual available to her.
For example, if the ritual is to lean forward onto a birthing ball you make sure that ball is there. Or if counting up to 20 with you becomes her thing then you’d better make sure you are there to count up to 20! Or if she likes to be held and rocked then go hold her and start rocking! Or if she loves vocalizing with the sound of a crystal singing bowl then you had better be there at your bowl creating that sound for her!
A Common Question:
I am often asked by doulas this question:
“So how do I ensure the bowl is played when there are SO many other support tools that I should be doing?”
This is a totally valid and great question! After all, doulas have been trained on how to support birthing women in SO many beautiful ways! It can be a bit overwhelming for them! And now I’m adding ANOTHER tool to their list!
Seriously … how can one person play a bowl AND give massages AND hold their hands AND talk them through a contraction AND heat up heat packs AND use a Robozo ... and the list goes on ... and on ...
My answer to this one is:
Birth situations are SO varied…and mostly always totally not what you expected them to be. So THE MOST IMPORTANT thing is to BE PRESENT and to PAY ATTENTION to what is needed in that moment. If you trust that you can do this then all of your inspired actions will flow from this space.
And follow your impulses!
Back to Birthy Rituals
So what I suggest is this:
1. Introduce your crystal singing bowl and the benefits of having a SoundBirth when you meet your pregnant woman.
2. Introduce the sound of the bowl during a contraction … especially if you feel your woman is holding back her voice, needing to let go, feeling a bit shy, needing to create sacred space and privacy, or if she just want to give it a go!
3. Then notice what happens. Is she letting go more with her voice? Is she asking for the bowl? Does she seem more relaxed? If you feel this has become her ritual then just continue playing the bowl for her during each contraction (or surge…whatever you like to call it). If you notice she is asking for touch or rocking or the ball and not needing the bowl then go with that for a while. You will know if she misses that bowl sound or not soon enough! She will tell you!
Adding SoundBirth to your birthy tool kit doesn’t mean you will use it every time with every woman during the entire labour. It just means you will be able to OFFER it and USE it if your woman is ENJOYING and LOVING the SOUND RITUAL.
I hope this has helped! Please let me know if you have any questions so I can write MORE blog posts about SoundBirth for you.
Nicole Lloyd B(Mus) is a mother of four girls and creator of SoundBirth. Here she shares her experiences using sound before, during and after the birth and anything else about sound or birth that she feels like writing about!