Chanting Through Childbirth

I couldn’t help but giggle. I also felt my face go red as I tried chanting.

It wasn’t just yoga relaxation chanting.

I’m talking about envisioning yourself in labour and in pain chanting.

The scene was a prenatal yoga class at the Matraea Centre. I was about six or so months pregnant with Audrey. I wasn’t the only one embarrassed either. Some of the other girls in the class were red, not chanting to their fullest and too shy to let it all out.

But let me tell you, when it came to D-Day, when miss Audrey decided to make her arrival quickly and extremely hard, I let it all out. And my face was red, but for a completely different reason.

Chanting was one of the most comforting things I did during the painful contractions. It helped get through the pain without any meds.

And for that I have to thank my prenatal yoga instructor and also natural birth advocate and midwife Ina May Gaskin.

I purchased Gaskin’s Guide to Childbirth from Matraea Mercantile’s book collection about a quarter of a way through my pregnancy. It was around the time the discussions of having a home birth began and I had also been introduced to Gaskin when I watched the documentary “The Business of Being Born.”

How can you not idolize a woman who utters the most beautiful and profound advice about childbirth in casual conversations? Take for example this quote of hers:

“We are the only species of mammal that doubts our ability to give birth. It’s profitable to scare women about birth. But let’s stop it. I tell women: Your body is not a lemon.”

What I really took from Gaskin’s Guide to Childbirth was the information on chanting. She noted,

“Early in my midwifery career, I observed another fascinating relationship pertaining to the Law of the Sphincter. I noticed a strong connection between the sphincters of the mouth/throat and those of the cervix and yoni.

“A relaxed mouth means a more elastic cervix. Women whose mouths and throats are open and relaxed during labour and birth rarely need stitches after childbirth.”

What also happens when you chant? Your heart rate relaxes and your blood pressure and stress hormones decrease, your melatonin output increases and as well as your lymphatic circulation, and your body also enhances the release of endorphins.

Pretty cool hey? And there are other benefits not only for childbirth, but for overall well-being.

Plus a handy tip for when your children are driving you nuts: start chanting. It will relax you and your kids will look at you like you’ve gone nuts, likely stopping whatever they were doing to drive you there to begin with.

Thanks to my prenatal yoga teacher for that tip too.

If the idea of chanting makes you giggle like it did with me at the start, try to move past that and give it a chance. And I highly recommend reading Gaskin’s book. Chanting is only one of the many ‘sound’ pieces of inspiration she offers.

– A Matraea Mother

BirthSarah Cosman