In Birthing From Within® classes I work with expectant parents to establish a pain-coping mindset. Uninhibited sounds and movement can be two integral parts of pain management in normal labor. Yet when we explore vocalization and begin thinking and talking about women making noise in labor, the images that often come to mind from popular culture aren’t necessarily positive or empowering ones. (Think ER)
When it comes to how we picture women moving in labor, we often don’t. It is rare to find images of women laboring in any way other than sitting or lying down in bed – as if to say that labor pain is so immobilizing that it literally lays women out. Yet, for normal birth, just the opposite is true: rather than laying women out, early labor pain encourages women to move our bodies in just the right way to help babies come through.
Yet, these images make sense when we think about the not too distant past of birth in our culture – when birth was hospitalized and women were routinely fully medicated and in twilight sleep while their babies were delivered for them by obstetricians. It also makes sense that, as women and expectant parents have struggled to reclaim low-risk, healthy birth as a non-medical event, there is a lag in our collective consciousness reflected, in turn, in our popular images. Those pictures, tv shows and movie clips of birthing parents as panicked patients are what has been, until recently, all that was readily available in contemporary popular culture.
How fabulous that now that we have DIY online video services it is possible to find so many more examples of empowering birth. With women making noise! And moving around however they like! The flipside, of course, is that there is a whole lot more of the same old stuff out there as well. So, I have sifted through quite a lot of it for you to find what I think are a few gems.
Here are five videos of women vocalizing, moving and remaining present during labor. They are from hospital and home births, and illustrate so much more than the power of sound and movement. You’ll get the fullest effect with the volume up, and be advised: some of them may be a bit noisy for work. Enjoy!
Singing and rocking on a birth ball during part of labor:
Moving and making noise in a whole home water birth story:
Moving, moaning (and more water!) in one contraction:
LOTS of different moving, positions and comfort techniques in a whole hospital birth story: