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Some prenatal yoga classes are teaching “vocal toning,” a technique that can help you ride out contractions and even ease pain during labor. Typically, the body’s response to pain is to contract, which works against you in labor. But creating a low, sustained sound in the open throat relaxes the birth canal and lower belly, allowing the cervix to dilate more easily and with less pain. “Vibrations create internal space, diminishing the intensity of the sensation,” explains Janice Clarfield, an international prenatal yoga teacher based in Vancouver, British Columbia.
She reports that 100 percent of the mothers she has taught say that toning was the most valuable tool they took from her class. “Women do it as a natural part of labor,” says Nancey Rosensweig, C.N.M., L.C.C.E., a certified nurse-midwife in New York City. “It’s an intuitive, animalistic response.” But practicing during pregnancy can help you get it right. A couple of tips:
■ Inhale deeply, then exhale the “A” sound (as in “ace”) in a low tone. Let the sound last for as long as you exhale, then repeat
continuously. Try it with the other vowels and notice if one resonates with you more.
■ Have your partner match your sounds. This not only supports you, but “the baby is reassured by hearing the voices of both parents,” Clarfield says.
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