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May 18, 2015

My Voice on Pregnancy

Each mom has to overcome something during their pregnancy and after their little one is brought into this world.
Women who work out, run, lift, dance or anything along those lines, have to work their way back up to the stamina that they had pre-baby.

This being my first pregnancy, I never thought to ask the effect pregnancy would have on my voice, and the recovery that comes after. Musicians and singers get pregnant all the time and you never hear about the recovery. The rebuilding of technique and breath support.
The loss of range and stamina. The things that I know now, would have possibly changed the way that I handled my voice and pregnancy.

I gained 45 pounds by the end of my pregnancy with Jaxon. (It was probably closer to 50, but I stopped asking after 40.)
The weight gain itself didn't bother me. It’s just a number. I knew that I was carrying my extra weight fairly well. Most of it was my 9 pound little boy and all the trimmings that go along with that. I watched what I ate, but never paid any attention to how much of it I was eating. It wasn't anything outrageous, but I used the pregnancy as an excuse to snack.
All. The. Time.

I remember that women told me that breathing would get harder as a baby runs out of room in your belly.
No one could tell me the impact it would have on anything that needed those lungs to be at full capacity.
No one told me that singing would become nearly impossible at 8 months pregnant.
No one told me that a c-section ravages the muscles in your core that your diaphragm uses while singing (not that it could have been avoided.)
No one could tell me that it would take nearly 6-9 months for my breath support and stamina to come back.
My vocal coach was supportive of my drive and determination to get my voice back in shape and back to the level of musicianship and quality of sound I had pre-Jaxon. He didn't tell me, until last week, that he was very uncertain we would be able to get to that point.

I’m excited to say that I believe that I am back, if not better, than I was before I was pregnant.
It has taken a lot of hard work to feel as if I have control over my voice again.

Things I had to do:
  •  Be patient. Not only was I working on getting muscles back in line and working order… I was waiting for severed nerve endings to heal. 
  • Actively speak in a higher register, due to being lazy and using a low ‘man voice’ because it didn't require as much support.
  • Ignore when notes just didn't come out, and realize that it wasn't a failing on my part.
  • Start at the bottom of my range and solidify that my technique was intact and working for me before moving to a some placed higher in my range… Which sometimes took weeks.
  • Be diligent and patient.
  • Actively change where I was breathing from. I didn't have the little person to block things anymore and conscious adjustments had to be made to break that muscle memory.
  • Exercise and strengthen my core muscles.

Actually exercising to strengthen my core muscles was what I put off the longest.
I hate exercising.
Like, really.
It wasn't that it was ever really all that hard before, just tedious.
Now it’s hard and tedious.
I was doing it before Jaxon, when I was at the top of my game… So I’m back at it, and it seems to have been the missing link.

I’m thankful that I have been able to regain the level of musicianship and vocal range that I had before. There is nothing like being proud of what is happening in a lesson after a year of disappointment week after week, knowing what you are actually capable of.
Plus, some people never come back, vocally, from such a drastic change. Every little nuance with your body and your health becomes clear in the quality of your voice when you sing.
It’s all connected.

I do plan on having more children, so this has been a learning experience that I am tucking away to use when it comes time to pull it out and reference it again.
Hopefully I will be more prepared for the changes and be able to bounce back quicker next time.

Has anyone else had pregnancy, health issues or lifestyle changes effect something in their life that was completely unexpected?
How did you recover or cope?

1 comment:

Kacie said...

My sister is a french horn player and she said the same thing, especially about her breathing and her core. I'm so glad your patience and diligence has won out!