Voice work for actors shares many similarities with childbirth preparation courses. Mutual themes often include a focus on release of physical tension and breath awareness but there is also, naturally, an additional focus on the expression of sound in voice work. In a recently published pilot inquiry co-authored by Danford, mothers who had a strong background of theatre voice training were interviewed to discover if and how that training impacted their experience of birth. The results suggested that, in particular, these actor/mothers’ uninhibited and diverse use of sound aided them in a variety of ways from pain relief to gaining a sense of empowerment and ownership of the experience.
This project is a mixed methods study exploring the effect of voice training on a woman’s experience of childbirth. The study will involve providing voice training for expectant mothers as a unit within a childbirth preparation course. They will learn how to use their voices with maximum ease and will also explore making sounds that might be unusual or vulnerable for them. We plan to evaluate the impact of this kind of preparation by collecting feedback from the mothers via questionnaires and focus groups. We will also have a control group of women who do not go through the voice training as a point of comparison. The results of this study could shed light on a valuable approach to birth. It could also be the start of a larger education initiative aimed to shift the institutional culture surrounding childbirth and to broaden the kinds of expression that are acceptable or encouraged from women during this process.