I have a prediction that this may become one of my most popular blog posts. Just wanted to put that out there right from the start.
Ina May Gaskin has noted that:
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 labor and birth rarely need stitches after childbirth. (Gaskin, pg. 178)
Research now shows that what Ina May Gaskin observed is also supported by actual anatomical features of the mouth and cervix.(As of 4.16.16 it has come to my attention that this link no longer works.)
Cervix and vocal fold tissue behave similarly in smear tests.
So mamma, what can you do to keep all your lips relaxed from your mouth to your perineum?
1. Keep people with you in labor who can help you laugh, remind you to sing and chant and keep your face as relaxed as possible. Now, anyone who has been in labor or attended to a woman in labor knows that demanding that someone “relax your mouth” is not only ineffective, but it is not respectful. The best thing to do is help the laboring woman remember by doing a mouth relaxation exercise yourself where she can clearly see you. Watching YOU relax YOUR mouth will remind her to do the same.
2. “Horse Lips”—-flutter the lips on your mouth during contractions. It not only helps regulate breath and manage pain, but it is kind of hilarious and fun too. Practice when you are relaxed and in private while pregnant and you will automatically do it while in labor. It may feel silly when you aren’t in labor, but you will reach for this amazing trick when the going starts to get strong during labor without question.
3. Sounding: The seed syllable to chant for the navel center is RAM. Sit in your strength during labor or stand or dance and chant RAM deep from the basin of your pelvis. In order to pronounce the “RA” part of the chant you have to make an open oval of your mouth. Then, when you go to close your mouth to “M” you hum a bit and the vibration relaxes your lips, tongue, mouth and whole face.
4. Did I mention laughing? Sure, if you’ve never been in labor you might be thinking that I’m one of those folks that insists that labor doesn’t hurt (OK–I KNOW that some people have orgasmic births and some never feel pain, but that isn’t my personal experience and I don’t think you should count on it for your experience.) But, it is FUN! You are having a baby and not a train wreck after all. Let your support team plan to keep things light and smile at you often so you can remember to smile back.
5. Kissing? I’ve got to be honest with you here. Personally, I get super sensitive about my personal space while I’m in labor. The idea of someone blocking my precious airways with their mouth by kissing me and being all up in my face and my space was not attractive. Not in the least. But, you know, if you feel like kissing while you are in labor, it definitely wouldn’t hurt. And, well, it’s really your last chance to make-out and not have to worry about getting pregnant for a while……..so, might as well live it up!
To summarize, it’s important to keep your mouth open and relaxed so your perineum and cervix will relax and open to make way for baby. You can do this effectively by singing, laughing, kissing, fluttering your lips with “horse lips” and sounding deeply from the basin of your belly or chanting RAM or OM if you are open to these sounds.
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Ina May Gaskin
Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth.
This post was written by Sharon Fennimore Rudyk, MA, E-RYT, DONA Trained Birth Doula and mamma to two lovely littles. I’m based in Pittsburgh, but due to the incredible power of the internet, I work with expectant moms and their partners all over the world to prepare for birth. You can call me for a free phone consultation (412) 855-5692 OR send an e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. I’d be so honored to be a part of your pregnancy and birth! https://www.yogamatrika.com