Updated: Apr 16, 2020
We’ve all seen in movies where women are screaming as they are pushing out their babies or have envisioned walking through the hallways of a hospital with screaming moms in pain.
Okay so let us conduct an experiment. As you are reading this, make a high pitched scream and take note of your body and how the muscles reacted.
Now make a low pitched scream or moan and take note of the differences in your body.
Making that high pitched noise made our bodies tense upwards - shoulders reached to the ceiling, eyes opened wide, eyebrows went up, jaw was clenched, neck was stiff and your bottom/glutes/vagina/perineum contracted. This makes sense right? When we scream we are usually in pain, scared, or nervous about something which elicits our sympathetic system to get us jacked up! This produces stress hormones to get us out of whatever situation we are in. However, this may slow progress of the labouring woman.
When we moan or produce a low toned noise, our bodies tend to do the exact opposite. Shoulders are pushed down, jaw is relaxed, abdomen pushes down and relaxes our bottom/glutes/vagina/perineum. To make an effective moan, we must take in a deep breath which also helps to calm moms down and helps suppress our sympathetic nervous system, allowing our parasympathetics to shine through - aiding in the labour process.
In reality, both the sympathetic and parasympathetic systems are at play. Oxytocin is released during labour which increases uterine contractions. This increases pain and adrenaline which inhibits oxytocin and decreases contractions. Endorphins are released which help with pain modulation and thereby decreases adrenaline and allows oxytocin to be released again. This cycle continues → Oxytocin-Pain-Adrenaline-Endorphin cycle:
With all that said, it’s okay to scream during labour and delivery - it happens. However, take note of the sounds you are making and remember to tune into your body. Birth workers, doulas, partners, and support staff - take note of this and help your momma be as efficient as possible. Moan with her so she feels comfortable making these noises. Practice making these sounds at home especially if you’re not a moaner :’)
Photo by: @prenatalyogacenter