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!
The Crystal Singing Bowl is a sacred sound tool that is similar to the ancient Tibetan singing bowls. They are made from 99% quartz crystal and the sound they make is pure and resonant. They come in a variety of different sizes creating high and low pitched sounds. These bowls are normally used for "sound baths" (I call my sound bath's "Sound Nutrition Sessions" just to be different!) which assist people in becoming more relaxed and energised. They are now being used at home and hospital births by SoundBirth Practitioners and / or the birthing woman’s partner.
Here are some of the benefits of choosing to use a crystal singing bowl at your birth.
So get out your birth plan now and add: "I want the crystal singing bowl to be played by my partner or SoundBirth Practitioner throughout each and every contraction."
How do you sneeze?
What sounds do you make when you sneeze, yawn, stub your toe, cry, laugh, scream with anger? Do you express these sounds differently depending on who is in your presence? For example your kids, your mother-in-law, your best friend, your co-workers, a group of strangers, your lover. How do you censor these sounds? Why do you censor them? What thoughts in your head are telling you to be quiet, to hide, to be small, to squash down your life-force energy, to basically lie!
Find Your Authentic Voice
The first time I deeply realised how much I had been squashing down my True Self for most of my life was at a life transforming workshop called Realtime Speaking with Robert Rabbin in 2007. I cried and cried for the entire two days. I couldn’t believe how afraid I was to say my truth, to speak up, to be authentic in front of the seven other participants. I cried for all of the parts of myself I had disowned in fear that I would be rejected if I let others see them. I cried for all the people who have also been squashing down their aliveness for so long just to fit in, be accepted, be “loved”. I knew I had to let go and reveal myself to feel free yet I was afraid …and still am sometimes. Why? Because if I revealed my real voice, my actual thoughts and feelings, what if people stop liking me? What if they don’t accept me? What if I am laughed at? Ridiculed? I would be alone. This was the fear. But the other option of staying the same, of holding back my truth, of staying stuck was MORE painful and just not an option anymore. It was time to change and I was ready to take the plunge.
“We all have a true voice within us, a fiery fearless voice that tells us how to live fully and authentically. Finding our true voice and choosing to speak with that voice brings us to a state of grace.”
Play with Life
Since then I have been seeing life more as a playground which has given me permission to not take life so seriously and definitely not to take anyone else’s opinions of me seriously. What is more important now is how I move and express myself in each and every moment. Is what I say and do in alignment with ME or is what I say and do in alignment with my kids, my friends, my husband, mother, society? I have found that when I live from this authentic place life flows beautifully…without the dramas, the frustrations, resentments, the PAIN!
Powerful and Natural Pain Relief
How is this related to birth? Well, if you are censoring your sound in any way for any reason during those contractions you are creating tension in your body somewhere. Sound unexpressed is repression. This holding back will cause more pain.
“Sound releases pain from the body. Silence locks energy into the body” Wayne Perry
This is why toning is such a beneficial pain relief tool during labour. It is a focused and gentle way of releasing sound and therefore pain. It is also a powerful way to start expressing your true sound your true authentic Self. It is only when you are being authentic that you feel truly alive and free. Giving birth is no time to hold back anything! It is time to let go of any old beliefs that hold you back and enjoy the ride. What an awesome opportunity to birth not only your baby but your Self! Birth is a time for transformation on so many levels. Enjoy! Be Naked! Be real! Be fully alive!
Here are 3 tips to expressing your sounds FULLY during your labour:
SoundBirth is about “Singing Your Baby to You” before, during and after the birth on ALL levels – physical, mental, emotional and spiritual.
I believe that the most important part of our job as a Mother is to build and maintain an emotional connection with your child. The more connected or “attached” you are the more you are able to “read” and meet the everchanging needs of your growing child. This leads to a happy and content baby and a fulfilling mothering experience.
Dr Sears describes this connection beautifully when he writes,
Attachment means that a mother and baby are in harmony with each other. Being in harmony with your baby is one of the most fulfilling feelings a mother can ever hope to have. Watch a mother and baby who are attached (in harmony) with each other. When the baby gives a cue, such as crying or facial expressions, signifying a need, the mother, because she is open to the baby’s cues, responds.
Using music and sound during pregnancy, birth and on your parenting journey are powerful tools to use to build the bond that both you and your baby need.
Sing Your Baby to You During Pregnancy
Dr Tomatis found in his research about sound and babies in utero that they can hear their mothers voice from four and a half months before they are born. Singing combined with being aware that your baby can hear you is a beautiful way to connect during pregnancy. You can sing in the shower, sing in the car, sing in the kitchen and sing in the garden. The more you sing the better you feel and the more familiar your voice will become to your baby. Making up your own words about how you feel towards your baby or about the dreams you have after s/he is born can make the song you sing even more powerful and connecting. It may even bring tears of joy to your eyes as you sing. The song you make up may also be a great sound tool you will use to connect for many years to come.
Sing Your Baby to You During Labour
Singing or toning during labour assists to bring your baby from his/her cozy little space inside you into your loving arms. There are many benefits of toning during labour such as giving more oxygen to you and baby as you take fuller breaths; the vibration of the sound relaxes and energises you; the sound of your voice combined with the sound of the crystal bowl help you to focus and put you in the “zone”; and it helps you to express and release pain. All of these assist you in riding the waves of your contractions, staying present and strong so you can birth your baby the way your body already knows how.
Sing Your Baby to You After the Birth
You have birthed your baby. The umbilical cord is cut. Now s/he is in your arms sometimes content and other times crying and unsettled. After trying to meet all of his/her needs (feeding, changing, making them comfortable etc) I have found that the next best cure for an unsettled baby is movement and hearing the familiar sound of your voice.
Nothing is as pleasingly stimulating to your baby’s brand new ears and growing neuronal network as your own voice – no matter what your friends and relatives think of it!
So sing your “Heart Song” or another song you may have sung during pregnancy. You could also make up a chant as you pace with your baby or feed your baby. Or choose gentle music that you can sing along with. I have found that putting on the same music track every time I was trying to settle my baby and singing along too helped as the baby soon recognised the song and connected it to being settled or sleeping. I also used the same song in the car when baby was crying or trying to sleep. It has now become their special song that brings me straight back to when they were a baby.
Remember that YOUR VOICE is the most soothing, powerful, beautiful, simple and nurturing way to connect with your child no matter how young or old they are. Singing will create an invisible cord of connection between your souls that will last forever!
SING SING SING!
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!