Stress Free Mamas blog - "The Whispered Ah"

Stress Free Birth

Natal Hypnotherapy

Harriet Hancock Natal Hypnotherapist

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When I first encountered the “Whispered Ah” during Alexander Technique lessons with Susanna Scouller and Ilana Machover, it seemed like a great idea but to be honest I never got round to using it, but I am now having great success with it with my 3 year old.


Taught by Alexander Technique teachers, the "Whispered Ah” is a vocal technique that helps release tension from the jaw and neck which is used by actors, musicians, speakers etc and indeed birthing mamas.   


It is excellent preparation for birth because it helps your breathing and importantly it teaches you how to use your voice during birth without strain.  It is particularly useful for the "pushing" phase and gives you something positive to do rather than shrieking!


Ilana Machover, a phenomenally experienced and gifted Alexander Technique teacher, describes how effective use of the Whispered Ah can be in her book “The Alexander Technique Birth Book” and in this article.   She also offers a great insight into the use of Alexander Technique during birth in her collection of birth stories, all of which are wonderfully inspiring stories and well worth a read.


Here is another great link to helpful information about the benefits of Alexander Technique during pregnancy and birth.  Certainly in my experience, Alexander Technique is a great way to help maintain good posture throughout pregnancy as your body undergoes major changes and stresses.  It also teaches you how to release tension in your muscles during birth which eases the process and reduces the experience of pain.  It perfectly complements Natal Hypnotherapy.


For a practical description of the "Whispered Ah" by Ron Murdoch, see this youtube clip


There are lots of ways of using sound during birth.  Many women instinctively “moo” and it seems to really help women to stay connected to their breath and to remain calm.  Certainly, it is a very much more positive use of the voice than screaming!    In this article, Ariel Pavic, a yoga teacher explains all about vocal toning during pregnancy and gives some great ideas for using the voice during birth.   I particularly like her quote "DO NOT ALLOW ANY ONE TO TELL YOU TO "SHHHHHH" OR BE QUIET DURING LABOR." 

The "Whispered Ah" is a particularly soft way to use the voice and therefore particularly useful during birth and as I have recently discovered with three year olds in the throes of emotional turbulence.


For a while I’ve been trying various methods to help my son find a way to calm himself when strong emotions are washing through him with no great effect.  I thought back to the yoga I’ve practiced at various times in my life and thought that lengthening the outbreath might just help him so I used all the imagery and language I could think of to help teach him this technique.  All that happened was that he blew as hard and as fast as he could which just taught him to shorten his inbreath and outbreath and so the benefit of breathing was lost to him.  But then I remembered the Whispered Ah and suddenly we’ve cracked it!  So now, when his emotions are running wild and he wants to find a way to be calm, we sit opposite each other, look into each other’s eyes and whisper “ah” to each other.  Its effect is immediate!  We both feel calmer and we have the added magic of mother and son connecting in times of strife.


So give it a go, look one of your loved ones in the eye or yourself in a mirror and whisper “ah” as softly as you can and see what happens!  And perhaps consider adding it to your birth preparation plan as a gentle technique to use to soothe the intensity of labour.

Harriet Hancock  August 2014

To learn more about the Alexander Technique or to find a teacher click here.


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