Have you had women laugh or sing in advanced labor?
I have seen a few religious moms singing hymns between pushes. It’s really quite beautiful.
I had one client who had her hymnal handy. When a contraction would start, she’d pick it up and sing until the contraction ended, then put it down until the next one.
Read a chapter from my book Growing up prepper called Sing Your Baby Earthside.
During my apprenticeship, I arrived at a home before my preceptor. This was the family’s third or fourth baby. Our phone conversation went like this:
Me: She’s nine centimeters but no rush.
Preceptor: NO RUSH?!
Me: Yeah, she’s cracking jokes and laughing up a storm!
We had a mom in labor listening to a Christian music station. As her water broke the old Navy commercial came on that used “thar she blows” as the tag line. We all couldn’t stop laughing.
I had a client who sang camp songs while keeping time beating on the birth ball. It was hard not to laugh because it was working for her.
I had a mom drop to her hands and knees with each contraction and sing a high-pitched, opera-sounding note with each one, fluctuating the pitch a little as well. It sounded beautiful. She was trying not to push as she was making her way into the birth center.
A young woman was birthing in my home on Christmas Eve. There was a fire in the fireplace. My children were somewhere else. She was in the birth pool around 10 pm. Prior to the pool, her husband had been drumming and she had danced through every wave of intense energy for at least two hours, opening, singing, rocking, swaying, stomping. As soon as she got into the water, I could hear little grunts with her sounds. She looked over at me and, for some reason, I started grinning from ear to ear, and then the laughter started. She belly-laughed the baby down, through a crown and right into the water for the last three rushes. She reached into the water and lifted the baby, and her laughter turned immediately into sobs. I sang the Chumash welcome song that Marina Alzugaray had taught me and that we had sung to many babies upon arrival. After baby was latched and the couple was tucked into my bed, I walked up the street to hear the choir at Our Lady of Mount Carmel on East Valley Road at their midnight Christmas Eve Mass. It felt like a fitting end to the laughing, joy-filled birth to listen to Handel’s Hallelujah Chorus.
I have never had a mom sing, but I had a mom that was very pushy but reluctant. I was sitting with her, waiting for her to decide to push. Suddenly she sneezed and the baby’s head peeked out. I laughed and told her what happened, and we both laughed. The next contraction, she pretended to sneeze, and the baby peeked out a little more. We were both laughing, and she sneezed with every contraction. After about three sneezes, the head was out, and then she lost her fear and pushed out the shoulders and baby. We were all laughing by that time, and she said his nickname would be “Sneezy.”
—Vicki Gilbert Ziemer
I encouraged a first-time mum to reach down and touch her baby’s head as she was crowning. She was so surprised at what she felt that she couldn’t stop laughing, and that set us all off. The baby was born to the wonderful sound of his mother’s laughter.
Does it count if the midwife is singing? One Catholic friend and client was in the shower, and I felt led to sing praise songs. She told me years later that was her favorite memory of that birth.
A tiny primip I attended was a gospel singer. She sang throughout her labor, forgetting the words sometimes in transition. Sweet birth.
I shared a duplex with an opera singer after our first was born. She told me that she sang for all her labors, so when we had our second, I sang in labor. It was a quick, one-hour labor, half of it spent driving to the hospital, the rest I sang. It was fairly embarrassing because, in the ward, everyone was talking about hearing me sing. I encourage moms to sing in labor, maybe nursery rhymes. So yes, over the years I have had moms singing in very advanced labor.
One mama, whose perfect birth plan changed, and her rainbow baby needed to be born in the hospital. She and her husband sang together most of her labor. After the baby was born and transitioned well, we all stepped out so they could sing the special song they’d written for their baby. It was incredibly sweet.
—Laurie K. Marchand Price
I once had someone softly laugh during contractions. Literally laughed her baby out. It was amazing.
I had a couple who created a beautiful playlist for their birth. At one point, we were all compulsively singing along—except her, but she loved it and did laugh at us.
I had a client last week singing “People Get Ready” in between surges, as she was bringing forth her 9 lb 12 oz baby at home. She is a jazz singer studying voice, so it was such a pleasure and delight to hear. I also supported a woman who sang “la-la-la” as her baby was crowning, and she sang her placenta to earth hours later in the shower. The first time I supported a birthing woman who sang in labour was in the ’90s in London … a beautiful Bengali woman, the wife of an Imam. She was singing in Arabic, as her husband held her with such devotion. It was unusual at the time and place for a very traditional woman to not have just women supporting her, but all her family was in Bangladesh. It was very beautiful.
I was singing through late-stage contractions in a homebirth in the UK (NHS) and the crabby second midwife got cross and shouted at me to stop wasting my breath!
Yes! I had a woman who sang all through her labor. Short praises, adoring nature,
little temescal songs. She was singing like a little girl, too. I told her that her inner girl came out singing her labor, opening her to receive her baby girl in water, into her hands at home.
—Carmen De Alba Castiello
Oh yes, many, many in Haiti (we lived above the birthing rooms).
I remember one—many years ago. It was her third baby. She was in the tub and sang “Amazing Grace” during her transition. When she got an urge to push, she stopped singing and declared, “I hate this part! I love you, baby! I love you, baby!” Then she resumed singing—and pushing.
Many times. One of them was coughing and belly dancing in the pool.
—Dr. Hakan Çoker
A few times. Once there was a lovely couple who came from Copenhagen and had been living in Istanbul. They found us and wanted to work with the Birth With No Regret team for their birth. At the very end of the labour, they started to sing in their language together. It was so nice, and we stepped back and left them alone for a while to respect their moment.
Once upon a time, I was with a birthing mama who was an opera singer. She sang her baby out. It was powerful and so beautiful. What a nice way to be welcomed Earthside.
In Guatemala, long ago, a beautiful lady and her family were at the waterbirth center. Everyone was quiet, candles, strong contractions, loving husband, wrapping her in his arms. Then, she spontaneously began to sing, her voice was clear, pure sweetness, soft, it transformed the room. All of us were transcended … a blessing song. I don’t remember the words, but the feeling will stay with me always. A most gentle birth and transition for baby and so naturally woman.
I had a mom who sang “Mary Had a Little Lamb” with each contraction until time to push that little lamb out.
I was at a birth with Diego in Ecuador and a woman sang beautifully throughout her whole labor of many hours. I had never seen or heard anything like that.
Yes, a mom sang praise songs and had a great waterbirth between verses.
The first birth I attended as an apprentice was with a close friend. She would labor in the tub and right when she would transition to pushing, she would start to sing (her degree is in music). She would sing all kinds of music, depending on the baby. I attended three of her four pregnancies. Minutes before having her third baby, and only girl, she was doing a dance game on a Wii and singing show tunes. She could not get comfortable in the tub, so we suggested she dance the baby into position. It worked! After 20 minutes she started to feel labor in her back, so she hopped in the shower, stepping over the tub edge got baby right in position, and she was born not 30 seconds later! We barely got the water turned off before I caught the prettiest baby. She is eight years old now and sings and dances just like her mom!
—Jae Howard Price
Yes. One of my clients couldn’t have pain medication because of a medical condition. She also happened to be an opera singer. She was singing an aria as her baby slipped out. When the sustained note died off her lips, the cry of her newborn filled the room.
Oh yes, apparently, I broke into song as my spirit exited my body to meet Ukiah in the stars. I do remember the rushes, so magnificent, I was completely awestruck and overwhelmed. The sounds of a harp or a music bowl vibrated through my body and out the top of my head, closely following me to the heavens to meet my child. When we met, I opened my eyes and called out, “I found him.” I’d never felt more held than traveling in song. My midwives and family told me later how moving it was. In those moments, I understood the magic of motherhood. Goddess. Divinity. Life-changing moments.
I was at a birth where the mother was being induced due to worries about preeclampsia. She said that she’d heard about the connection between the throat and the cervix and that she’d always been embarrassed about singing in the past because she’d been shamed about the quality of her voice. At one point during the induction, she deliberately let out an incredibly loud and powerful series of vocal tones, which stopped the midwife (who was fussing unnecessarily and was talking about how “more would need to be done”) and brought us all (husband, midwife, me) to a state of stunned and awed silence. Her labour then went on to progress smoothly.
Me! I was laughing my way through contractions with my second. I’m not saying it didn’t hurt, but I sure was cracking up all through labor, until I wasn’t (almost crowning).
As a midwife, I haven’t even seen anyone else quite doing that, but I have had singers.
I’ve noticed over the years that I laugh a lot at “inappropriate” times.
As a student, this woman asked me to hug her. She started singing and we danced slowly, embracing each other. At one point, she kneeled and brought me down. She birthed like that. It was just the two of us in the room. No fear. I didn’t catch the baby, I just held her. Baby seemed absolutely okay. One of my most beautiful births.
I was attending a hospital birth with a couple who were very private about bodily functions. Labor was slow going, so mom decided to sit on the toilet for a while, dad went in with her. A big contraction hit and she jumped up and held onto the shower curtain bar; sort of hanging there and began to feel a bit pushy. She passed a tiny bit of stool, as one sometimes does, but that was more than dad could handle. He began gagging uncontrollably. This struck mom as hilarious, and she burst into laughter. The more dad gagged, the harder she laughed. This was all she needed to finish the job. She barely got out of the bathroom when baby slid out. She is the only woman I’ve attended who, literally, laughed her baby out.
—Teresa Fox Magri
I had a mama of five come into the unit when I was a student. She was a tiny thing in full make-up, hair, with nails done. I had put the bed up for leaning not lying. She was really happy to see that. She took off her jeans and panties, leaned over the bed, took the gas and air, and laughed her baby out. Her laughter was contagious, and we all laughed until baby was born. I think it took like 30 minutes. Her husband said she got pregnant just to get the gas.
I’ve heard several of my Amish mothers sing when contractions get intense. Their songs (this particular sect) are more of a chanting type, low monotone singing. The words are in German. It reminds me of an old monastery. They are such unique, beautiful women.
I cared for an opera singer who used her scales practice to focus her mind and be distracted throughout labour. It was beautiful.