My First SoundBirth
My first SoundBirth was one of those “ecstatic” births. At home. Floating in water. Making beautiful toning sounds with the sound of a crystal singing bowl…until the end of course when I let out my usual primal scream! It was a much shorter birth than the previous two, also at home in water. I put it all down to the use of my voice and crystal bowl…and decided to share these awesome tools with the world…hence “SoundBirth – Sing Your Baby to You” was born.
My Second SoundBirth
Seven days ago my second “SoundBirth” (fourth homebirth) began early Friday morning. During the day I hung out with my sisters, went for a walk, felt excited about everything starting to finally happen! Not much “toning” happened until the contractions became more intense later that night. It was then that I asked my older girls (aged 10 and 8) Mum and my sister to start taking turns playing the bowl during each contraction. I hummed gently and made a few Oh and Ahh sounds. Once again the sounds of my voice together with the bowl spun me out as it did during my last labour. Whenever I went slightly off-pitch to the bowl I heard my favourite “Wah wah wah” sound….something you really need to experience yourself to understand. These were my “early labour” sounds.
Everything slowed down early Saturday morning after the midwife arrived and kids and husband emerged from their sleep. I was tired from not being able to sleep all night which could have been the reason why. I also felt my normal “performance anxiety” issues arise. I didn’t like the fact that I was not in control of when my next contraction would come…I wanted them to come more regularly, more strong. I was tired and afraid that I wouldn’t be able to cope much longer if things didn’t start moving…and the last thing I wanted was a transfer to hospital…
I decided to go into the shower just to get some space from my kids (who were being lovely of course giving me pictures they had drawn, giving me drinks etc…) and people watching me…waiting for me to DO something! I cried my eyes out in there…BIG sobs. I wanted to hide, to be left alone. I didn’t want people worrying about me. JUST LEAVE ME ALONE!!! I got out and my midwife Clare reminded me that I can birth in my own time and that my body is tired and just needs a rest. So I lay on the bed with Steve and tried to sleep. No contraction for half an hour! “That’s ridiculous (my inner critic remarked!). I’m getting up and out of here!”
The Power of Nature
So I went for a walk with Mum around our backyard surrounded by bush. There were ducks in the old dead tree (strange), it was cold, the finches were tweeting and watching, the dog was in the garage so he wouldn’t irritate me! I started having more contractions. This is when my sounds started to become more should I say…”juicy”? and not so pretty…’Oh’ sounds, groaning sounds, sometimes balling my eyes out sounds. It hurt! Really, really hurt AND I was SO tired.
Then the sun came out. The beautiful warm, healing sun. The warmth became my hot water bottle on my back. It was SO soothing. I remember thinking, “Wouldn’t it be great if all labouring women could experience this…the sun, the trees, the birds…” Being surrounded by nature reminded me that what I was doing was part of nature. I felt connected to everything and so grateful for the strength and wisdom that nature seemed to bless me with in that moment. I realised I was actually going to have a real baby in my arms very soon…So I balled my eyes out about that…
I laboured outside on the veranda for a while. The midwives bought everything outside just in case THIS was the birth spot. The bowl came outside too (giving my hubby something to do). It really made such a big difference when that bowl played. It accompanied my crazy sounds. It switched off the outside world. I could go inwards and express whatever sounds that wanted to come out and when the contraction was over we talked, we joked, we laughed and sometimes I sobbed… Then the sensation came again. The bowl played. I released the pain, the tension, the emotions with my voice and then returned back to my family, midwives, the ground beneath my knees…
Too hot outside. Back inside.
It’s amazing how ultra aware you become when in labour. I knew what I needed to do or not to do in each moment. And during this labour it seemed to change all the time! Normally I would just be in one room submerged in the warm soothing water in the birth pool. Not this time…I didn’t want to go near the pool. Instead I went from one room to the next like a cat does before giving birth until I found the perfect place – on my bed. This was it. This is where I had decided to put all my energy into pushing my baby out! Liza (my backup midwife) played my largest bowl (18 inch), Clare encouraged me and massaged my bum reminding me to relax (how vulnerable we become in labour!), Mum came in occasionally to see how I was going and giving me rescue remedy, the kids popped their heads in sometimes then went off to play with my amazingly entertaining sister, and Steve stood next to the bed so I could lean on him during each contraction (it took him a week to recover!…poor husband…). I moaned, groaned, screamed, sobbed, winged, toned, made up silly sounds and laughed like a crazy woman…whatever I felt I needed to express, I let out with the sound of the bowl accompanying me.
The bowl was amazing. It was the one constant throughout the labour. Clare noticed that it seemed to give me power and strength when played louder so Liza went for it! It was SO loud that I thought the windows might shatter! I said near the end that I can’t wait until it’s quiet! I was sick of hearing myself make so much noise and just wanted some peace!! Clare thought I meant that I don’t want the bowl to be played anymore. So there was one contraction with no bowl and it was awful (it seemed longer and more painful) so I insisted it was played again. It was me I was me I was sick of hearing…not the bowl. The bowl was my life-boat, my safety net, my block of chocolate in the cupboard…and I NEEDED it to keep me going.
Screaming my baby to me
Not long after my waters broke…SPLASH underneath me! Hooray! What a release that moment was! I think I cried again…knowing what was coming next… And sure enough a few contractions later I had to do the really big ‘poo’ and I screamed my baby’s head out. Thank god for that! The kids came running in to see their new baby’s head sticking out of my “bum” (as my 3 year old says), watching her turn herself before the next contraction and I screamed my baby to me… into my arms. “Is she OK? Is she breathing? Waaaa… Thank goodness…” What a relief when you realise that the birth is almost over (placenta still to come) and your baby is perfect. What a miracle. I sat there sobbing my eyes out…again…in shock, disbelief and relief. I had finally birthed my baby…I had found that massive amount of power I had within and needed to allow my body to open up and give birth. I did it! No one else…just me and my baby…a bowl…and an awesome support team of course! Another girl! Four beautiful girls all born safely and naturally at home.
Birth is awesome, a miracle, powerful, painful (sorry…but it is!), a mystery, beautiful…and I am so grateful to have experienced birth in all its glory.
Welcome little Ruby to our family.
Most women will have at least one loved one attend her labour whether in hospital or at home. Usually the husband/partner will be there, mother, sister or best friend, and sometimes the siblings in a home-birth situation. All of your loved ones LOVE you and no one enjoys seeing a loved one experiencing pain. Also, none of them have probably every seen or heard you experience pain for what could be for several hours… Maybe they have seen / heard you swear your head off for a few minutes after you’ve stubbed your toe, or maybe you have groaned and moaned when sick with the flu, or maybe they have seen you scream and cry if you have ever broken a bone…BUT the sounds of labour are going to be very, very different and will most likely go on for a much longer period of time…becoming more and more intense as the labour progresses.
From the research I have done and from my own personal experience, making primal sounds during contractions whether that is moaning, groaning, toning or a combination of the lot, will assist with pain relief, relaxing and opening the cervix and keep the labouring woman in “the zone”…to name a few benefits.
So, first of all though, YOU need to give yourself permission and feel comfortable about making such sounds BEFORE the birth and so do the people who you have chosen to have support you (even some birth professionals need a reminder that vocalising is important). If your loved ones aren’t prepared it could bring up anxiety for them (especially if they are the type who want to ‘fix’ everything – most men are like this, and mothers tend to worry). You don’t want an anxious person supporting you and you also don’t want to be suppressing your sounds just because you don’t want to freak out your loved ones!!! Remember that you are using your voice as a pain relief and ‘opening up’ tool to help you birth your baby gently into the world!
You really can’t afford to abandon your voice but you CAN prepare your loved ones.
Here are some discussion points and exercises you can do with those loved ones who will most likely be present during your labour. Adjust the language of course, according to whether you are talking to your hubby or children…
Points for discussion:
5 fun and simple exercises:
1. Stand up. Open your mouth. Stretch your arms…and YAWN. Yawn as loudly as you can. Let the sound out. Yawning is usually contagious so relax (try not to laugh too much) and YAWN your head off!
2. LAUGH! Do “Ha ha ha’s” and “Ho ho ho’s” and He he he’s” “Hu hu hu’s” and a combination of them all. Make high and low, fast and slow sounds ie. Make your laughing interesting! Be creative! And enjoy laughing at each other! Laughing is also extremely contagious!
3. Take a deep breath, open your mouth wide and sigh “Ahhh” several times. Allow yourself to relax as you do this. Release any stress or tension that you may have held in your body through the day. Let it all go!
4. Crawl around on your hands and knees and pretend you are a cow! Kids love this one of course! Even if you are not a kid you will get a kick out of it! Choose some other animal sounds to explore together – monkey, dog, lion, kookaburra, elephant, cat
5. Everyone holds a piece of ice in their hand for 1 minute (the time of a good contraction) without making any sound. Talk about how this felt. Do it again this time making some long “Ahhh” and “Oooo” sounds or just moan and groan… allow whatever sound to be OK. Notice and discuss the difference when it came to coping with the pain.
More to discuss:
“Here’s how you can support me to make more sound during labour:
So there you go! Prepare yourself and your loved ones during pregnancy. Learn to LOVE your voice (even just accepting it would be good enough!) and then make the choice to draw on it as an awesome coping tool during labour.
If you want to find out how to add the soothing sound of a crystal singing bowl to the Soundbirth equation contact me! firstname.lastname@example.org
Enjoy making sounds with your loved ones! Let me know how you go!
I am now 39 weeks and 3 days pregnant. I feel physically and emotionally ready now to give birth again for the fourth time! I have set up my birthing space at home. I have my crystal singing bowl in the corner of the room ready to be played by someone throughout every contraction…the sound that will be “holding my hand” and keeping me focused as I vocalise through my labour. I have the birth pool blown up and ready to go. I have the “Feng Shui for birth” kit set up to help with cleansing and bringing the right energy into the room. I have chosen an awesome independent midwife who has made house visits from three months into my pregnancy who I have built a relationship with and who I trust completely if it comes to making any big decisions during the labour, birth and with baby in arms. I have had a Blessingway ceremony, had a beautiful henna design drawn on my belly, had professional photos taken and have completely cleaned and sorted out my “nest”.
Yes I have made many conscious choices and some people may believe that because I have “done this” three times “successfully” already I wouldn’t have any fears and all will be well…
Well, they are wrong. I’m only human after all! During this pregnancy I have experienced more fear than any other. Probably because I have read more about birth and heard many more horror birth stories since starting my birthy business, Soundbirth. Because of this I have felt SO grateful and lucky really, to have had three beautiful homebirths in the past but I also feel that if awful things like this can happen to other women then who am I to think that it couldn’t happen to me too!
Here are just some of the fears that have sometimes consumed me during this pregnancy!
-fear that my baby will die
-fear of being transferred to hospital
-fear of having to have a c-section and feeling like I have “failed”.
-fear that baby will be posteria and the labour too painful and long for me to birth naturally
-fear of the pain – especially at the end when I usually feel like I’m going to die
-fear of feeling depressed afterwards and not being able to take care of my family because of it
-fear of having to deal with sore vagina, haemorrhoids, sore nipples…
-fear of being sleep deprived…again!
STEPPING INTO THE UNKNOWN!
What I have realised is that all of these fears come down to the FEAR OF THE UNKNOWN! Because the truth is that all of these things COULD happen AND all of these things MIGHT NOT happen. I don’t know…nobody knows… The reality is that the outcome is completely out of my control!!! And we, especially in our society, are not used to feeling out of control! We want to know the outcome, we want to know how to do it, we want to know everything about everything inside and out before taking action…just in case we fail, feel pain, feel stupid and the list goes on. Giving birth though is one of those peak life experiences (close to being faced with death) that can’t give us these answers which therefore forces us to face these fears and surrender to the moment. Scary stuff for any “normal” human being…
EXPRESSING THE FEARS
What has helped me during this pregnancy was that I vocalised my fears in front of my midwife, my husband, my children, my Mum, my sister and the friends who came to my Blessingway. Yes, I cried. Yes, I felt vulnerable and shame even for feeling so fearful about things that I “should” feel confident about since a) I have done it three times before and b) I teach women how to cope with pain etc. using sound through my business!
What I realised though that after expressing and exploring the fears and tears I was able to release them…It was like the fearful thought needed to turn into a sound (spoken words) so that it became separate from my body and mind. From here I was able to see the fear for what it was (a thought) and see clearly why that thought was scary (something to do with a past experience). Only then was I able to step into the spaciousness of the UNKNOWN…because that was all that was left… The “I don’t know” mind. Scary…but SO freeing! In this space I could take a breath and be present in the moment knowing that all I actually can do is surrender and trust that the birth will unfold as it unfolds and that’s that.
If I had held in these fears because I was worried about what others would think of me or if I was afraid that if I voiced them they would come true…I would STILL be holding these fears in my body and mind. I’m sure that like my first two births they would then arise again during labour and birth and afterwards which are really not ideal times to feel be feeling anxious. I want to feel CLEAR before giving birth again. To know that I have looked at all the heavy, all-consuming thoughts and emotions so I can be fully present with my body making space for me to freely birth my baby into the world.
I feel I am ready now to face the unknown… to surrender to the awesomeness of giving birth again.
Bring it on!
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!