What does natural birth sound like?

This is probably one of the biggest questions people who have never given birth without pain medications or who have never seen such a birth might have — just in general, as well as particularly if they are planning a natural birth.

Here is a good video that shows a woman vocalizing through her contractions, and as the contractions increase in intensity, her “singing” or moaning also increases in intensity. While many of you may possibly be put off by hearing this (if you’ve never heard something like this before, only watching the medicated births on “The Baby Story” or “Discovery Health” or other similar shows), and may even feel more inhibited now, the reality is that when you’re in labor, the last thing you’ll likely worry about is what other people think of you. After all, if you’re allowing half a dozen people (mostly strangers) to stare at and touch your genitals possibly for hours, then how can vocalizing be any worse?!

One caveat, though, is that since most women have some sort of pain medication — typically an epidural — in the hospital, some nurses may be uncomfortable with how you’re sounding. It’s a typical human response — see somebody in pain and want to help them. Unfortunately, if you’re wanting to give birth without pain drugs, and the only “help” a nurse has available is pain drugs, then she can’t do anything and may feel bad, and may undermine your attempts and desire to give birth unmedicated so that she will feel better. (I’m not talking bad about L&D nurses that do this — I think many of them have the right desire, but just don’t have the right tools to help you; some nurses, though, will not be supportive and will deliberately undermine you just because you’re not fitting into their little mold.) I read a blog recently which is written by a newbie L&D nurse in which she said just this thing — that she feels bad for women in labor and wants to make things better, so she offers them drugs, since that’s the only help she has. I suggested that she take doula training (or at least read some books on what doulas do) so that she has more ways of helping women other than just giving them shots or calling the anesthesiologist.

But enough of the intro: here is the video (which I found by way of Empowering Birth blog)…

This doesn’t mean that every woman is going to vocalize like this. Some women sing, some pray, some chant, some moan softly, some keep it all inside. One woman whose birth story I read said that she felt like she was roaring loudly when she birthed her baby, but when she watched the video, she found that she was absolutely silent — all the “noise” she thought she was making was just inside her own head. I understand that. I felt like I was being loud, but my husband said he didn’t remember me making much or any noise. But this video is an excellent visual and auditory lesson (for anyone attending or giving birth) of what a real birth might sound like. Too many birth videos don’t show this type of thing — only the “sanitized” or “quiet” version. You know the type — where they cut the audio and start playing soft, flowery music. The video only tells half the story; without the audio, you’re missing a hefty dose of reality.


This poll allows repeat voters and is multiple choice, so if you have five children but only three birth videos, you can choose “yes” three times and the variations of “no” that fit the other two.

— Update — For some reason the poll associated with this question won’t show up in the post, so if you want to vote, click on “poll questions” in the right-hand sidebar and look for the poll that asks if you have videos of when your child(ren) were born. Also, just in general, if you choose “other” on any poll question, there should be a little box to clarify what the “other” is, and I always burn with curiosity when I see that somebody would do some “other” thing, and I don’t know what it is! (Yeah, I’m curious that way.) 🙂


4 Responses

  1. Thank you so much for posting this 🙂

    I remember my doula saying “just moan through it…” And I looked at her like she had to be crazy. It was amazing how natural it felt to do it when I just let go. I remember telling pre-labor/birth that I was pretty certain I would be quiet while in labor, lol…so much for that!

  2. That’s such a good video! My three year old ran into the room while I was watching it to ask “Is that you pushing out a baby?!!” My husband said “yup” when I asked him if that sounded familiar.

    I remember thinking that one of the midwives present at my second birth (birth center) was angry that I was making too much noise. A week after the birth, I told that to my doula and she asked, “You know you said that out loud, right?”

    One of the best things that my doula said while I was in the final stretch and my moans were getting higher and higher pitched was “Bring your power down.” I dropped an octave or two and was able to relax more for some reason.

  3. Great post. I hadn’t thought about the fact that many L&D nurses don’t have (or don’t realize they have) other tools to help women in labor. Great suggestion for that particular L&D nurse to take some doula classes. That should just be REQUIRED!!
    ~ Kimberly

  4. With my first, the nurse repeatedly made comments about how loud I was. At one point, she came in and closed the curtain around the bed, in addition to closing the door to the room, because “all the noise you’re making is scaring the other women in labor”! In retrospect, I really think that’s why I ended up getting an epidural.. I felt embarrassed for being so noisy, as if I wasn’t supposed to be doing that. (Turned out to be a pretty pointless epidural, too… they put it in, I laid back on the bed, and it was time to push. Two pushes later and Jonny was born!)

    Regarding the video… we have video of our twins’ (surgical) birth. We did it surreptitiously by setting our regular camera to video. The staff though my husband was just snapping photos (which was allowed), not taking video (which wasn’t). 😉

    Sorry about the epidural/noise experience, but that’s a neat idea to circumvent the ban. I’m assuming the ban is you can’t have a video record that can be introduced into evidence should any lawsuit arise over your care (or lack thereof) during labor and/or birth. I can more easily understand keeping the operating room sterile, but a still camera is no different in that respect from a video camera…
    — Kathy

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