When a woman is pregnant, everything about her changes. From her emotional state, to the way her body is evolving to manufacture a new life, this period of metamorphosis is so much deeper than most people talk about.
Postpartum, a mother’s life is just not the same. She has to play the role of a parent along with taking care of herself and her mental health. Through all of these changes, there is one such affect that is not so well-known, the change in a woman’s voice during the third trimester of pregnancy. This alteration in vocal range lasts temporarily once your baby is on-board. With care and prevention of damage, you can ensure that your pre-pregnancy voice will last for much longer.
Do not panic if you have noticed the change in your voice as this change is normal, in fact, it is believed to be the emergence of the woman inside you!
Here are 8 factors that cause the deeper vocal tone during pregnancy:
1. The rapid increase in hormonal levels; namely, progesterone and estrogen, affect every part of a woman’s body, including her vocal chords.
2. A woman’s body when pregnant accommodates the growing baby by lifting and contorting her internal organs. During the process, the baby pushes down on the diaphragm which will cause a decrease in lung capacity, endurance, vocal fatigue and short breaths during the later stages of pregnancy.
3. Hormonal changes lead to the relaxation of the lower esophageal sphincter (LES), as the stomach’s capacity reduces, acids from the stomach rise up to the esophagus causing heartburns. Pregnant women experience excessive throat clearing, altered voice and post-nasal drips along with acid reflux.
4. Women have observed that they are unable to sing in a hiigher range of vocal notes during the third trimester due to the drastic shift is the pelvis, chest and back (postural changes) which affects the support mechanism of the pregnant woman’s body completely.
5. As pregnancy swelling goes, the nose is also affected causing a prevention of resonance through it and into the sinus. This also results in a deeper vocal tone.
6. Swelling of vocal cords (edema) cause heaviness in vocal folds that alter the range of notes. Women lose top notes and gain notes at the bottom which cause the husky-deep vocals.
7. The vocal cords of a pregnant woman become fragile due to the dilation of blood vessels along with the rest of her body.
8. There would be a 50% increase in blood volume and a 6 pound increase in bodily fluids during pregnancy. Vocal cords may vibrate at a slower rate due to the accumulation of body fluids and excess mucus surrounding it.
Don’t strain yourself by raising your voice and trying to achieve higher vocal range during your third trimester. If you are a professional singer, a teacher, a speaker or find yourself talking a lot when your primary tool is compromised, your vocal cords are prone to worsening of inflammation, tear and rupture.
7 Things You Can Do To Prevent Vocal Strain:
1. Keep yourself hydrated by drinking at-least 6-8 glasses of water per day.
2. Avoid alcohol (you should already be on that) and caffeine since they can dry your esophagus and larynx.
3. If you’re experiencing post-nasal drips or congestion, inhale steam by pouring boiling water in a bowl and creating a tent around your head with a towel.
4. Wash your hands often to avoid catching an infection and stay off medication for common cold and allergies that dry the larynx. Consult a laryngologist or your healthcare provider if:
a. you observe a sudden change while speaking or singing
b. there is a change in your voice after sneezing or coughing.
c. you experience pain while speaking or singing.
d. there is a sudden drop of vocal range during pregnancy.
5. Cancerous vocal folds are most seen in people who smoke, so avoid second-handed smoke or kick the bud.
6. Practice breathing exercises and yoga (with approval from your doctor) to promote cardiovascular circulation that can reduce:
a. morning sickness
c. swelling in the chest and concentration of mucus.
7. Disengage from emotionally draining situations and avoid screaming, crying, stress and tension. Most situations can be dealt with once you are calm.
Ample amounts of rest is important and beneficial for your body and mind. Try not to overuse your voice, avoid using the extremes of your vocal range by screaming and whispering, and take a break from singing when you’re tired or experience a hoarse vocal change. Remember, this change will only be a minor temporary set-back so you prevent further weakening of the voice.