Call me crazy, but there is something I still don’t understand when I attend hospital births. I’ve attended many births over the years in Houston area hospitals, and I still don’t understand why there are people who insist on trying to get people to be quiet when they are in labor. L-A-B-O-R. Labor is hard work! They named it appropriately. And many people make noise when their bodies are working hard.
I still don’t understand why people are quick to push pain meds when someone is vocalizing a lot. If they are feeling the need to “fix it,” why not offer extra support instead? Why assume that vocalizing means that things are going wrong instead of very very right? Why are people in hospitals so uncomfortable with the noises that people make in labor?
I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised. Most people are uncomfortable with pain- whether physical, spiritual, or emotional. We don’t like to experience it ourselves, and we don’t tolerate it very well when we witness pain in others. We are a society of pain-averse people.
But labor has this funny way of bringing all kinds of things out of people. It involves lots of bodily fluids: blood, sweat, tears, amniotic fluid, poop, and lots of emotions: fear, acceptance, determination, fear again, doubt, frustration, excitement, etc. It may make people cry, curse, and make noise.
Vocalizing is a great labor coping technique. I have used it in all three of my natural births. It works best when sounds are low and long, using a nice open syllable like Oooooh or Aaaaahhhhhh. Keep the jaw relaxed. Hold the vocalization as long as you can and then take a nice, deep breath, and do it again. Vocalize throughout the entire contraction.
I often see someone come into the room when one of my clients is vocalizing beautifully and try to instruct them to breeeeeeathe. But they ARE breathing. Vocalizing IS breathing. You can’t make noise through your vocal cords without breathing.
Everyone sounds so different in how they vocalize during labor. I’ve come to think of that time during labor when someone begins vocalizing as the “Finding their labor song” phase of labor. I don’t usually mention this to my clients, especially not during labor, but it one of those things I note to myself. I always marvel and stand in awe that I am privileged to witness the magnificence of each person’s unique labor song. Sometimes the labor song is so beautiful, so powerful, and filled with such strength that I am forced to choke back my own tears. The power of birth and the labor song is amazing.