Website of Lina Clerke -

Holistic Bowen Therapist,
Midwife &
Childbirth Educator Sussex UK


   Birth Literature
Professional Development
and resources for childbirth educators, midwives and doulas


Wonderful Birth Stories
to inspire and encourage you on your birthing journey

Singing and sounds during a second birth

Dear Lina,

Finally I have a spare moment to let you know the wonderful news - we have another beautiful son, named Alexander, born May 5, 2002, 4.48pm (3.12kg, 50cm). Here's the story of his arrival…

Boris had been working 18 hour days for the last month leading up to the birth, with the aim of taking time off after the birth (he's still working very hard). We had a function booked for Saturday, May 4, and Boris decided to let the staff run with it, unsupervised. Well, sure enough, my Braxton Hicks seemed to be stronger that night.

At 1am, I realised that labour had started. My contractions were 6 minutes apart, but were mild enough for me to attempt to sleep through them. By 3am, I decided that it was time that Boris joined in the fun, as I now needed to breathe through the contractions. By 7am, I was more mobile, walking through the contractions, or leaning over a pile of cushions I had arranged on the couch. It was at this stage that we decided to ring our independent midwife, who promptly arrived 45 minutes later.

The contractions were a little less regular, and varied in intensity. The backache, which plagued me throughout labour with Luka, had returned, and I started to feel anxious about the baby being posterior. Strangely, I was also concerned about wasting our midwife's time, worried that I might have called her prematurely. Of course she was not in the least bit bothered about how long the labour was progressing, and soon put me at ease. She treated me like a queen - massaging my back during contractions and massaging my feet in between them. We went for a walk around the block, with me pausing every so often to lean against a tree as the contractions took hold. It is amazing how I lost sense of time - I thought the contractions were maybe 15 minutes apart, when in fact they were coming every 3 - 5 minutes.

When we returned to the house, I had a bath. Our midwife gave me some homeopathic medicine to help the contractions along, and poured water over my belly. There was a slight show. The contractions gained in intensity, and soon I was again leaning over the pillows, and using my voice to help me get through the pain. Luka was so sweet - he would come up to me while I was bellowing, and put his little face close to mine and pucker up for a kiss. He would then run off and continue playing. I'm sure his expressions of love helped me open up even further.

Even though I could tell the contractions were closer and stronger, I was surprised when our midwife suggested that it was time to go to the hospital (it was about 1.30pm by this stage). As we made the dash to the hospital, with me on all fours on the back seat, cursing every corner and bump in the road, I was glad that I wasn't left to make the decision when to leave. By the time we were in the birthing room, I had dispensed with verbs, keeping requests simple: "Ball" (ie birthing ball), "Hand, back" (ie massage my back), "Drink". I chose to lean against the birthing ball, with Boris attending to my backache, and our midwife holding my hands. I asked for the gas, and used it mostly to help regulate my breathing rather than numb the pain. I found I could only take in about three breaths before I felt ill anyway, and so I used the mouth piece to chomp down on when the pain got intense.

I went through this part of the labour with my eyes closed, but I was aware of everything that was said by Boris, our midwife, and the hospital midwife. This time I really felt a connection between my mouth and my cervix, and so opened my mouth as wide as possible (it seemed wide enough for a baby's head to pass through!), as my voice became clearer and stronger. (Oh my goodness, I'm just starting to realise so much more about the significance of this birth as I'm writing it down). As I opened up further, my voice became higher. It was as though I was singing scales. I remember hearing our midwife say that singing is thought to have originated with women giving birth. I even had presence of mind after the contraction to commend myself on how long, and tunefully, I was able to sustain a note!

During the labour I didn't really suffer the "crisis of confidence" that I had heard about. (Before labour, I had been concerned about how transition would manifest itself.) I did experience slight exasperation at one stage, wanting so desperately to feel the vagina expand, and all I was getting for my trouble was the bulging anus sensation. A couple of times I was slightly overcome by nausea and shaky legs, but nothing too dramatic.

I decided to change position, and kneel on just one knee, and put the other leg to the side (like you have shown us in class). Boris said he saw immediately my body open up. I was handed a mirror, and through the small opening I could see the baby's head. Having been through labour before, I knew that the best bit wasn't too far away, and became excited. My voice was hitting a very high note, when our midwife told me to bring it down to where the baby was. Suddenly I sounded like a Tibetan monk chanting - I could hear the others chuckling.

Just before the head came out, my waters broke with a sudden gush. Finally, that glorious expansion! Lina, you would be so proud of me - I breathed the baby out this time. No pushing whatsoever! 'Loose lips, loose vagina', I could hear you saying. The baby actually cried once his head was out! I could tell that this baby's head wasn't as big as Luka's. However, his shoulders were stuck, and I could feel that too. The hospital midwife was tugging on the baby's head, trying to get the rest of him out. Our midwife said to the hospital midwife, quite firmly, and at least three times, "wait for the next contraction". Luckily, the hospital midwife did wait, and out he slithered, all red and bawling his lungs out. I don't think I have ever experienced such elation. Boris was crying, but I was ecstatic, and all I could say was "It's a boy! We have a boy! Oh, you're so beautiful! We have a boy!"

I was squatting, and before too long, without warning, out popped the placenta. I was able to offer the breast to bubby within the first hour of him being born, and he took it with enthusiasm. Boris and I were left alone for some time, with no one in a hurry to weigh him or clean him. This was all very important to me, especially considering I was denied the opportunity to do the initial bonding with Luka, due to him being sent to Special Care.

Alexander is three weeks old now, and has stacked on the weight. He is quite a guts. Unfortunately I developed mastitis last week, due to, I suspect, an ill-fitting bra, and had to be put on antibiotics. I think this has been playing havoc with bubby's tummy, as he seems to have some trouble passing wind. Other than that, he is perfect! Luka is coping rather well with the new addition - he lavishes Alexander with hugs and kisses, and even tried to tickle him the other day! He has, however, been throwing major tantrums the last week - I don't know how much this has to do with the baby. Luka has had an ear infection and other teething related problems, and his routine has been turned upside down. But he is, after all, 19 months old, so perhaps this was inevitable anyway.

Someone is stirring now - demanding a feed every three hours, so I must go.

A million thanks for your love and support and invaluable advice throughout this pregnancy.

Much love,

* * *   email: