Singing is a very natural activity that’s as old as time. Having a baby is a natural process too, but are the two compatible? Is it safe to sing when pregnant and what precautions should you take?
Singing when pregnant is safe and may be good for both you and your baby, as long as your technique is right and you are taking care of yourself. Your voice will change when you’re expecting too, which may affect your repertoire as a professional artist.
Find out how pregnancy is likely to affect your vocal range, as well as reading our tips and advice for staying safe as a singer when pregnant.
Tips for singing when pregnant: a guide to safety and the voice
As you’ll already be aware, singing is a very physical activity and most of the hefty work comes from the diaphragm, depths of the stomach and lungs – areas close to the womb. So it’s understandable if you’re pregnant or preparing for pregnancy, that you may be concerned about the effects of this on a foetus.
Is it safe to sing when pregnant | Is singing safe for an unborn baby?
When you sing, you increase the oxygen flowing through your body, by breathing more deeply with sustained breath release on the notes. Sound can be very therapeutic too, effectively giving a kind of vibration massage to your unborn child as they listen in the womb.
You may have to sing a little differently than usual – bring your song down a semi-tone, and breathe laterally through your lungs than vertically. However, if you need some proof that it’s safe to sing when pregnant, here’s Beyoncé strutting her stuff at the Grammys while pregnant with twins.
Does singing affect pregnancy? Is it OK to sing when pregnant?
We’ve established that it’s generally ok to sing when pregnant, but don’t think that it doesn’t affect your voice during pregnancy. The effects of pregnancy such as morning sickness may leave you feeling like you’re not up to energetic performances. Or you may feel on top of the world and totally on top of your game as a singer at this time. Everyone is different.
Can baby hear me singing?
Whether your unborn baby can hear you singing, will depend on their age and the frequencies you’re singing with. Here’s a guide to the stages of hearing in embryo and fetus development.
- 8 weeks: The embryo begins to develop ears
- 18 weeks: The ears begin to protrude out of the head and hearing begins to becomes possible
- 22-24 weeks: Low-frequency sounds below 500 Hz can be heard, like a dog barking or a lawnmower (an adult can hear a range of between 20 and 20,000 Hertz)
- 29 weeks: Higher frequency sounds above 500 Hz become audible
Can my baby hear me humming?
Bear in mind that your unborn baby is surrounded by amniotic fluid and your body’s own soft tissues. Therefore anything they hear will be muffled, so humming may not be loud enough to register as sound, especially in the early stages. But humming is fantastic for your baby, not necessarily for what they hear, but what they feel. It sends vibrations through your body that have a soothing and therapeutic effect, for both of you. Humming is also a fantastic vocal warm-up ideal for gently keeping your voice in shape during pregnancy.
When can the baby hear Dad’s voice in the womb?
This will depend on the volume of Dad’s voice, the frequency (in Hertz) and the age of the fetus. Generally, men will have lower frequency voices, meaning they can be heard sooner than a woman’s voice in the same room.
Does pregnancy affect your singing voice?
The biggest effect of pregnancy on your voice will the impact on your range. It’s widely known that when Adele recorded Skyfall, her voice was much lower than usual, as she was pregnant. She used this to her advantage enabling her to harness a deeper, even richer quality.
Voice cracking during pregnancy
You may notice your voice cracking during pregnancy, making it hard to access your mid-range register or higher notes. This is caused by the crowding of lungs and diaphragm as your baby grows, along with the surge of estrogen that can cause the vocal cords to swell and vibrate. You may have to work harder to get your voice to work the way it normally would. Prepare for this with vocal exercises that enable you to sing from different parts of your body (ie head voice and chest voice) and to access breath from all areas of the lungs.
Singing during the first trimester
At this point you may feel more tired, suffer from morning sickness and postnasal drip, which causes hoarseness. You may even find it slightly harder to swallow. Here are some of the ways you can start protecting your voice:
- Rest up as much as possible and take more frequent breaks.
- If you haven’t already, stop drinking alcohol or caffeine.
- Take gentle exercise to keep everything moving and flowing.
- Use steaming to reduce the effects of postnasal drip.
- Keep to a plain diet to avoid acid reflux and cut out very greasy foods.
- Practice relaxation techniques.
- Do daily breathing exercises. As your pregnancy continues it’ll affect your ability to take deep breaths from your abdomen, so practice lateral breathing techniques, expanding the lungs horizontally, as well as vertically.
Can singing cause contractions?
There are a variety of foods and activities that are believed to bring on contractions. If you’re heavily pregnant and past your due date you’ll be keen to try anything to get things moving. Singing is not one of the activities listed as causing contractions, although ‘relaxing’ is. So if singing makes you relaxed it might bring about contractions.
What causes contractions in pregnancy?
You may feel occasional contractions during your third trimester, as the body prepares for childbirth. There’s also something called Braxton Hicks syndrome, where you feel like you’re going into labour, but are not. This is often brought on by doing too much, so try and relax and put your feet up, while nature takes its course. Braxton Hicks can also be brought on by dehydration, so make sure you’re getting lots of o2.
This video explains the process of contractions using a balloon to illustrate.
Karaoke during pregnancy
If you fancy having a go at karaoke for some musical therapy, you might want to read this story first! If you are very close to the end of your term, it’s probably not a good idea to get up on stage, especially if you are experiencing any dizziness.
Pregnant singers on stage – leading worship while pregnant
Leading worship can be an especially intense performance experience and carry responsibility if backed by a large band and more singers. But as a lot of worship music is easy to sing, designed to be followed by a congregation, it’s a good genre for pregnant women. Many worship leaders continue until late on in their pregnancy. It’s really just a case of being aware of when it’s too much for you – especially as you have to work harder as a vocalist (in terms of drawing breath and sustaining breath) in the second and third trimesters. Some singers report an even clearer voice between 3 and 6 months of pregnancy.
Benefits of singing to your baby
There are lots of benefits of singing to your baby both before they are born and afterwards. It builds rapport and bond, is good for your health as it’s relaxing, it soothes the baby and even helps with the early stages of cognitive development. There’s certainly no guarantee that exposing you unborn child and baby to music is going to mean they grow up to be a famous singer oo a musical maestro, but it will aid in their learning and mental health.
Can singing to babies help them sleep?
It’s a well known and longstanding technique – singing to your baby to get them to sleep. Traditionally lullabies like Rock a Bye Baby were used. But you might prefer to sing a gentle version of some of your repertoire. Why not use the time to practice your sets, as well as getting the baby to sleep?
Can my baby hear music if I put headphones on my belly?
Once your baby is over 20 weeks, they will be able to hear music, including that played through headphones. If using regular headphones keep the decibel level under 70. Or you could purchase a set of BellyBuds, the baby bump sound system headphones designed especially for this purpose.
Your choice of music is also important. Opt for something that’s not too jarring like heavy metal. Instead go for something classical, or easy listening. Upbeat music is fine, as long as it isn’t startling. You may feel the baby kicking along to the beat!
Prenatal music classes
If you want to expose your unborn baby to music in a deliberately therapeutic manner, you could sign up to a prenatal music class. Many women like to spend some time considering and compiling a playlist for labour and birth too.
Is it OK to play music to your baby in the womb?
Playing music to your baby in the womb is excellent. There are proven benefits to exposing your child to music from pre-birth onwards. Keep playing music to your child after birth too. The types of music that have the most relaxing and soothing impact, are classical tunes, lullabies and nature sound music.
Are concerts OK during pregnancy?
In theory, concerts are good, as they expose your unborn baby to sound and music. The caveat is to avoid anything that exceeds 115 decibels (around the sound level of a chainsaw) as this may be harmful for an extended period and possibly even increase the likelihood of hearing problems in the baby. This is only a recommendation however, as experts don’t yet have definite evidence of this. Play it safe by sitting away from speakers, or choosing a style of music that isn’t too loud.
Also, avoid any large scale concerts where there could be a lot of crowding – and limited access to toilets. With less bladder control during pregnancy, that is never a good thing. It’s important that you can still do the things that you enjoy while expecting, and going to gigs is a great way to unwind and catch up with friends.
Learning guitar while pregnant
Perhaps pregnancy isn’t the ideal time to learn guitar, in that you might find it awkward to hold and play. Here’s some practical advice for playing the guitar with a pregnant belly.
However, as with almost all musical activities, learning an instrument is perfectly find for expectant mothers and the sounds and rhythms will actually benefit the baby.
Singwise vocal technique instructor and mother of four Karyn O’Connor shares her knowledge and personal experience of singing while pregnant, on her website. Hear about how she found pregnancy as a professional singer and the ways her voice was impacted.
Pregnancy is a wonderful, joyful and expectant time. While it can bring some less pleasant symptoms such as swollen hands and feet and sickness, doing something you enjoy that reduces stress is excellent for both mum and baby. So don’t stop singing when pregnant – and like Adele, maybe even try out some new songs to match your lowered pregnancy voice.
- Can severe pain cause preterm labour?
It isn’t clear exactly what causes preterm labour, but the following conditions are thought to be contributors: infections, vaginal bleeding, stretching of the uterus and hormonal changes. You can read more about the signs and symptoms of preterm labour here.
- What causes contractions when not pregnant?
Menstrual cramps can cause contractions that feel similar to labour contractions. So can gastroenteritis, infections and irritable bowel syndrome. If you experience contractions speak to your doctor for advice.
- What can cause uterine contractions?
Uterine contractions will be a sign of labour, as the uterus shortens and tightens. This causes the cervix to thin and open, enabling the baby to descend into the birth canal. Menstrual cramps are also defined as uterine contractions, occurring when hormone compounds release from the uterine lining.
Do you have any safety tips and advice for singing when pregnant? Did you find your range changed when expecting a baby? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below.