Bringing and Ancient Tool into the Modern World
This is what I spoke about at the Australian Homebirth Conference in March 2016. I'm sharing this for those who couldn't be there. Enjoy :)
The Most Ancient Tool in the Universe!
Sound, heard and unheard is everywhere and everything.
Sound has been around since before the beeping of technology, the brumming of cars, the singing of humans, the roaring of dinosaurs and even before the BIG BANG that created our beautiful planet.
Sound has the power to destroy walls, create planets and heal bodies of water.
It brings joy to humanity, creates connection between people, brings to life long lost memories, puts us in touch with all of our human emotions, gives us a break from our stressful lives and it even soothes the savage beast.
Music and sound has been used by ALL cultures since the beginning of humanity. It is therefore the most ancient and I feel the most powerful tool there is because it has the ability to transform ones experience of life in an instant.
It’s no surprise then that music and sound is being used during the most intense, transformational and powerful experience a human can have – child birth.
Women have been naturally toning, groaning, moaning, screaming and singing their babies into their arms since they have been having babies. The use of sound during labour is therefore NOT a new idea. It IS however a lost and undervalued tool in our modern day society.
The Birth of SoundBirth
My name is Nicole Lloyd and I am here today to share my own experiences of giving birth to 4 babies using sound, to remind you of what you already know about the power of sound, to bring awareness to the birthing community about how you can use sound during labour and to give you an experience of how powerful sound can be.
When I was 10 years old I saw my Mother give birth at home on her hands and knees to my youngest sister. This naturally inspired me to have my 4 baby girls at home too.
During my first two labours I suffered from severe PERFORMANCE ANXIETY. I felt self-conscious about being naked, about people watching me and about making strange noises during contractions. These labours were long and painful…
My third home birth was totally different. It started off the same way though…
Here I was again. Leaning against the side of the bed, half naked, amniotic fluid dripping down my legs onto the towels on the floor and that feeling known as “performance anxiety” overtaking my entire being. Everyone was watching me, waiting for something exciting to happen. I could feel their “wanting to help” but not being able to. I could taste the anticipation in the room. I could feel myself wanting to scream, wanting to let rip during the next contraction … but I didn’t. I was too contracted. I always had been. Too afraid of letting go. Of feeling even MORE vulnerable, more naked than what I already was. How could I feel this way when I was at home having a homebirth? With my loved ones? And after I had already given birth at home twice before? So here I was again wondering how much longer this was going to go for, how much more painful it was going to get…wishing everyone would go away but not leave me alone…
Then all of a sudden the room filled with the most beautiful, soothing, resonant, pure sound ….
All of a sudden everyone seemed to disappear from the room, the room itself disappeared. It was just me, my voice and that sound. Every contraction after that I insisted the bowl was played and each time I went deeper and deeper into the space of the surrendered woman. I had never experienced myself feeling so surrendered. So playful. So present. I was even giggling in between contractions because I was enjoying the sounds I was co-creating with the bowl. I felt powerful for the first time in my life because I gave myself permission to make sound, to be heard and to release the pain. 5 hours later, my beautiful Kira was born into the water just as the sun was rising. This was also the birth of SoundBirth – Sing Your Baby to You.
Learning, Creating and Sharing
After this transformational experience…more like DURING this transformational experience, I KNEW that I had to share this with the world!
I began to read those sound therapy books I had collected over the years but never read and found many reasons that backed up why I had such a positive experience.
Facts such as:
- Toning has been around since the beginning of humanity and used for the purpose of release and relief.
- The larynx and the cervix are the only 2 organs in the body made up of exactly the same tissue therefore relaxed jaw = relaxed cervix
- Toning reduces blood pressure, increases oxytocin and oxygen and decreases adrenalin.
- Crystal singing bowls entrain the brain into the alpha state almost immediately.
- I also found Frederick Leboyers book written in the 70s called “The Art of Giving Birth” where he writes about toning with the droning sound of the ancient Indian instrument, the tambura during labour. He shared many of the women’s experiences of surrender, release and openness while they toned during labour.
So I decided to create a program and start to teach expectant couples who wanted to also experience a SoundBirth and later on I started sharing this with birth professionals who also wanted to add sound to their birth support kit!
What Others Have Said
Since starting teaching this 5 years ago there have been home births, hospital births, home births transferred to hospital births, birthing centre births, natural births, births ending in c-section, painful births, not so painful births and even a few babies who decided to only live until the birth … yet ALL of the women have found the crystal singing bowl was something similar to their life-line. It kept them afloat. It held them. It was the one thing they grabbed onto during every contraction. And they were left with powerful and positive birth experiences.
Here is what they have said about their SoundBirth experiences:
The sound of the bowl gave them permission to make focused toning sounds during contractions with confidence. This enabled them to RELEASE any physical or emotional pain; OPEN their body gently and get into “THE ZONE” very quickly.
“If I hadn’t found Soundbirth I would never have been able to labour as long or as hard as I did and I would have ended up at the hospital much sooner losing any power over my body and my labour. Also, I never would have felt comfortable toning or making any other noise in my labour and my contractions would have never felt so enjoyable. I was able to labour at home for four amazing days and got everything out of my labour I had hoped for and can honestly say I didn’t feel any pain with my contractions while I was toning. I was just carrying myself along with the contraction rather than fighting against it.” Taryn, Mother of 2
It created deep moments of connection between the woman and her partner playing the bowl. She felt supported, listened to and never alone. I have heard many stories of women feeling totally alone during labour even though there were people everywhere! If there is no deep line of connection with someone, she WILL feel alone. The sound being created by her loved one in particular was all she needed to feel connected and on the ride with someone.
“My last two births Daniel was really a bystander as I didn’t want him touching or interacting with me. This time though, once my body went into full birthing mode, Daniel became a huge focus and wasn’t allowed out of my sight. I needed him to play the bowl during each contraction as it was giving me so much relief. During each break I was so thankful for Daniel and the bowl. It was unbelievable the difference when using it.” Angela, Mother of 3
It created a safe little birthing cave no matter where the woman was birthing. Who wants to be half naked with their legs wide open in bright lighting amongst a heap of strangers??? Definitely not women who are wanting a natural birth! So even if this was the situation they could just close their eyes and let themselves disappear amongst the powerful sound vibrations they were co-creating with the bowl.
"As Sasha's labour got going, the support crew took it in turns playing the crystal singing bowl to easily generate a beautiful deep, rising vibration in the room that was very relaxing and hypnotic like. It was clear to me that this was very helpful for Sasha in getting through each contraction. As the contractions became stronger, the calmer Amy seem to become. She was easily able to take herself to a peaceful place with mindful breathing and meditation. The beautiful low tone of the mesmerising singing bowl helped keep Amy in what I like to call the 'labour zone'. The atmosphere in the room was one of peace, harmony and there was the easy flow of laughter and joy.
Everyone took turns playing the crystal bowl and Amy made us laugh as she protested if there was a break in the sound. The big stand out thing for me on a personal level is that when I went home after a 9 hour shift, I felt totally energised which is unusual. I felt so uplifted and alive and I was still wide awake and buzzing at my usual bed time! I realised that it must have been the vibrations in the birth room from the crystal singing bowl. It would be worth investigating what the crystal singing bowl could do for you, not only in labour but for pregnancy relaxation and vitality. I think that perhaps it is also great for life in general."
“The bowl helped create more of a “sacred space” for her in an unfamiliar and intimidating place.” Maxine, doula
Then there were the MEN. Those brave, brave men who risked being called a “bowl playing hippy”. They watched and listened to their woman. They played in time with them throughout the labour. They were present. They gave their woman the support and connection she craved from him. And they felt USEFUL! Nothing like a man who has an important job to do, right?
"Playing the sound bowl during my wife's labour enabled me to participate a very active way during the birth of both our sons. Our bowl enabled me to channel my connection with my wife and to best support her during our birthing experience. We used the bowl in a hospital and a home birth environment and we found it powerful yet nurturing in both settings. We could not imagine giving birth without the beautiful sound bowl."
How you can learn more about SoundBirth
Now I’d like to briefly share with you what I am offering expectant couples, birth professionals and sound enthusiasts.
I believe that this tool can be learnt quickly and easily by most people. You don’t have to be a musician or a birth expert, you just have to be present. Which I also believe we are all capable of doing or should I say BEING.
I have created an Online SoundBirth Doula Training for birth professionals. This is for birth pros who want to learn how to support women during labour using the SoundBirth tools. Very suited to birth doulas so they can offer SoundBirth to their women and for midwives so they know what’s going on when more and more women start bringing their bowls in hospital rooms or using them during home births.
For expectant couples and their birth support team I am offering an online course called “Sing Your Baby to You” and private sessions with me!
I am basically happy to teach and talk about SoundBirth to whoever and wherever you would like me to!
Now I invite you all to close your eyes and pretend you are about to have another contraction ... Allow a deep breath to enter your body and on your exhalation open your mouth and make an AHHHHH sound. We’ll do this with the crystal singing bowl for one minute.
Play bowl and tone.
If you are a birth professional and would like to offer SoundBirth to your women find out how HERE!
If you are expecting and would like your partner to play the bowl for you you can learn how to do this in a private session with me or online!