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Birthing ~
moving
beyond,
into
this world

Vocal music
used to support

the journey
through the
major
life-passages
of birthing

and dying
Victoria, B.C.
On this page General Support Support in Toning

Intimacy

Hospital and Crisis Situations
Limitations of Bedside Singing

 
Testimonial
The following is from a birthing mother, who used Toning as a supplemental birthing technique in a hospital birth, and Bedside Singing as a further support.
Pashta was there for 15 hours of the labour and delivery.She, and the mother and father, sang together when possible having identified many of the songs to be sung in advance. Most of the rest of the time Pashta sang while the mother and father rested, or dealt with the practicalities of birthing.
"Nurses came into our room smiling our singing had changed the tone of the ward.I felt focused, present.The songs gave me an outlet and a grounding.When I was in the OR (for an unplanned Caesarean), our midwife asked Pashta to sing outside the door.We could just hear her over the voices of the OR personnel, and the music kept us present and feeling connected to something beyond this moment.We call Pashta our baby's 'singer'."GW

General support Although once the birth has happened all focus will be on cradling the child, during labour it is the mother (and perhaps her partner) who needs cradling i.e. as supportive and nurturing an environment as possible.Especially towards the end when the contractions are longer and stronger, she has little attention available for talking or other forms of distraction.It can be difficult for the mother to both physically relax, and stay distracted from the exhausting length of the birthing process, in between contractions both of which states are important for help her deal with the sensation of pain and keep up her energy for the actual delivery.Bedside Singing can be a helpful distraction in between contractions; but more specifically may aid the mother to drift into a restful state, or even fall asleep when possible, in response to the lullaby-like nature of the chants.It is likely that her co-parent or other birth coach will also be tiring (either physically or emotionally, or both): and Bedside Singing can help them to 'take a break' and relax, or even sleep for a short period of time.

Birthing is an extremely emotional process: and it is not unusual for all kinds of fears to emerge that the mother (or even the co-parent) hadn't even considered as 'at issue'.Because of the intensity of the birthing process, these fears are likely to appear life-critical.Sometimes if there is a problem with the birthing, or some risk to the mother and/or child they really are, but it doesn't help the birthing process to respond to them in crisis-mode.Although the fears or other issues must be dealt with eventually, now is not the time to process them in any depth verbally (although that may be necessary after the birth).Again, Bedside Singing offers a temporary distraction from the fears and possibly even some calming of them, as the repeated message of the chant encourages the mother to relax and trust her caregivers.

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Support in toningBedside Singing can be particularly helpful if a birthing mother chooses to deal with her contractions through a specific form of Toning developed for this purpose.Birth Toning is a tool, in which the birthing mother converts the moans/groans of contractions into a low sung note.Proponents of this technique claim that it has direct physical effects on the loosening and stretching of the cervix, as well as lengthening the breath, etc.What is more obvious is that it assists the mother to convert the work of the contraction into a different kind of effort (the toning); and therefore, can help to distract her from the sensation of pain (that is, to avoid her triggering into fight/flight or panic mode, and stay focused on her breathing).Bedside Singing support reminds the mother to use the Toning with each contraction but also adds to it, by harmonizing over her Toning note.This helps her to focus on her own sung note as creating music, rather than as a response to pain.

Although most birthing mothers lose their concern about making embarrassing noises during contractions pretty quickly, Toning can help this to happen sooner.The harmonizing from the Bedside Singer can add to this effect, even as the contractions become stronger.Family members of other birthing mothers, waiting in the hallway of a hospital, have even commented that they are hearing the contraction noises as music; and wondered why they weren't hearing the more typical moaning sounds.

 
 

Intimacy Giving birth to a child is a very intimate activity and especially if it is a hospital birthing, it already has enough clinical people involved.If the birthing mother is comfortable with the Bedside Singer, the presence of live background music can distract her from the more clinical elements of dealing with the labour and delivery, and help to keep the process more personalized.However, because birthing is such an intimate experience, it is important that the mother and Bedside Singer meet beforehand not only to identify songs/chants that would be particularly meaningful or restful for her, but to get a sense as to whether the mother would feel comfortable with that particular singer being present during the birthing process.

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Hospital and crisis situations If a crisis occurs, it may be that the Bedside Singer needs to leave or remain out of the way: however, especially if the mother and midwife/doula/birth-coach are comfortable with the singer's presence, continuing to sing may help everyone to keep calm.If the delivery needs to move into an operating room, it is likely that the Bedside Singer will not be included amongst those present: however, consideration may be given to the mother's wishes including having the singer present during a caesarean/etc. [Iin one case, the singer was allowed to sit in the doorway of the operating room and continue to sing at the request of the midwife.]

Hospital birthing rooms are usually not very large.If a crisis happens in which the doctor or midwife feels that it is no longer appropriate to include the singer, they may need to leave the room.If at all possible, the Bedside Singer should remain available (although this might lead to long waits in the visitor's room), in case the situation changes and the mother wishes to have the singer's support again including after the birth, especially if she does not have a co-parent/partner.

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Limitations and further notes If the birth is at home, family or friends may be present: and it is likely that there will be little room for them and the midwife and/or doula never mind the singer.Fortunately, Bedside Singing can be done from any corner of the room, or even in a hallway although it is better if the singer can keep sight of the mother, in order to assess what her needs might be (re the singing) at each moment.

Bedside Singing is primarily done to support the mother, but must be considerate of everyone else involved birth coaches/co-parents, doctors and/or midwives/doulas, and any hospital staff to not get in their road, or distract the mother when they need her attention.If at all possible, the Bedside Singer should also meet the midwife or doula in advance of the labour since they must also feel comfortable both with the singer's contribution, and with requesting appropriate changes in the music or the singer's presence during the birth.It is wise for the Bedside Singer to have some training and/or experience as a birth coach (if at all possible), since it is likely even if there is a birth coach present that the singer will need to help with those kinds of support to the mother, and/or simply be aware of what is intended and adjust the music to aid its purpose.

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Please click on Visits (left menu) to find out how to make arrangements
for a Bedside Singing visit in the Victoria, B.C. area.

 

Blessed Be