Several weeks ago every night before bed I was reading Ina May Gaskin's guide to childbirth. I wish I could find more books like this. I'm reading Penny Simkin's guidebook at the moment and it is good, helpful, but not as engaging a read. One of my learnings from Ina May was about the connection between the loseness or openness of the jaw/mouth and of the looseness/openness of the pelvic region and cervix. She advises even silly exercises in labor to loosen the face, and encourages low deep sounds rather than pinched tight sounds. As someone whose jaw is frequently tight and who can imagine setting her jaw when in pain I started to wonder how I'd manage this. Then she shared a story of a woman whose labor was stalled and who was extremely tense, particularly through her face. Ina May remembered that she was a trained singer and suggested she sing. This opened her up tremendously and she was fully dilated in short order.
I made a mental note then. I have sung through many moments of my life. I love to sing with my sister. My sister will be at my birth. This could work... And perhaps... without even thinking about it, it could loosen my face and jaw.
Then we went to see a play called "Birth" which is a bit like the Vagina Monologues in that it is compiled from several interviews with women about their birth experiences. No one in that play was singing through labor, but one woman was reciting the mantra "My Body Rocks!" over and over again. I think I'm a bit inhibited for such a mantra, but... I'm not too inhibited to sing all manner of things (maybe Kev or Katherine should write me a particular song for labor with such an affirming mantra built in... hmm...) After the play there was a talk back time and a woman in the audience asked ask us if we'd seen the video of the woman singing during labor. So I went home and searched you tube and found it and was reconvicted in my desire to try this.
I indicated a few weeks ago that this would be the subject of a forthcoming post and I intended to link to the you tube video (just so you won't think I'm totally crazy) and today, due to the cancellation of an evening school commitment I finally have time to post. I went looking on you tube and found another such video and this one tapped into the one concern I have about this plan. I almost feel like I need to develop a LONG set list of songs I'm prepared to sing because I can never remember lyrics at just the right moment, can never think of what to sing next (even though I'm always singing to myself- deciding I want to sing sometimes wipes the brain clean). I suspect that in active labor, when this might be most helpful, I'll be especially unable to think of what to sing next. The second video I found she seemed to have the same problem... but... with help from her husband (I presume) she got back on track.
So, friends, let's start creating the set list. What would be good songs to sing during labor? Anyone want to write a song for me? If you don't know my musical background--- I know a fair bit of classical repertoire, lots of church music of all stripes (i really love american hymn tunes- esp. of the appalachian variety), I know lots of women's music- ani, indigo girls, sweet honey in the rock, some sarah maclachlan, some patty griffin, some nancy griffith, and lots of others- i know a fair bit of leonard cohen, some beatles... aw shucks... I'm familiar with a lot of music. Grew up on Peter, Paul, and Mary. When I used to sing in a coffee house in high school I'd sing songs I had composed (mostly too melancholy for birthing, I think- teenage angst), old folk songs like "500 miles", "Both Hands" by Ani DiFranco, "Me and a Gun" by Tori Amos (um... talk about melancholy). And others I'm sure. I've got lots of songs I've used as lullabies too..
And whoever it was that thought that singing through labor would require meds, remember, we're hoping for a home birth. I'm hoping this will help keep me home and prevent the need for meds.
I can't figure out how to embed You Tube videos today... so... links for you- to the woman who could have used a set list here, but you get the idea that this could work from her. It seems more real than this one, but isn't this LOVELY? It gives me hope.
I KNOW I'll be learning the Dixie Chicks song "Lullabye" and will be brushing up on their song "Godspeed" as well.