Labor Tools: Vocalization
What it is:
Vocalization is making noise as a way to manage the stress of labor.
How it works:
One of the most difficult things about labor is that you need to "get out of the way." Most things that we naturally do to manage pain can slow down and hinder labor. You need to relax through the contractions and do practically nothing. That can be extremely difficult.
Vocalization gives a mother the ability to respond to the pain, stress, fear, tension or pressure that she feels. In effect, it is a way to release the tension that she is trying to prevent from building up.
How to do it:
Not all noise is the same. In order for vocalization to work as a way to promote relaxation, the noise must be conducive to relaxing. Screaming, screeching, or any high-pitched noise does not come from a relaxed body, nor does it create a relaxing environment for the mother.
The type of noise to use in labor is low-toned moans, groans, humming, deep breathing, chanting or sighing. Low-toned noises are made from a relaxed throat, neck and chest with the mouth and jaw relaxed. You cannot make low-toned noises without being relaxed.
Pay particular attention to the noise the mother makes. If her voice gets high-pitched or she begins to scream, tell her to open her mouth and take a deep breath. Just opening her mouth should get her to relax her jaw and will bring the tone lower.
If the mother is really struggling through a contraction, you may find that you need to make noise for her. Start making a low-toned noise near her face while you try to get her attention. Most mothers will begin to imitate the noise you are making.
Integrating it into labor:
As contractions build in intensity, the mother can match her volume to the intensity of the contraction.
Mothers who feel self-conscious about making noise may do better with chanting the baby's name or a single word.
Some mothers find that grunting or low moaning helps them with pushing.
Choose a song or two you know well to sing during labor. You can sing along with a recording, sing alone or use live music if available.