How to Help Her Keep A Rhythm…A Music Lesson for Doulas

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How to Help Her Keep A Rhythm…A Music Lesson for Doulas

As doulas and childbirth educators we often spend some time introducing the idea of rhythm to our clients. We share that rhythm is a common denominator among women who cope well with their labor and birth. We explore how a laboring woman can find her rhythm, and how everyone can support her and try not to interfere with it.

Today I found this presentation clip of the wonderful musician, Bobby McFerrin, together with some men I assume are likely neuroscientists. The presentation was called “Neurons and Notes.”

And, as I was watching, I saw a few things here I often see in birth.

What I find so fascinating about Bobby McFerrin’s interplay with the audience is that it illustrates how we easily connect in rhythm and through sound. I loved watching how the audience falls into the rhythm easily and effortlessly follows him…until…he splits his legs and we have to go into our “thinking” brains and make a decision.

Watch a laboring woman who is confronted with a question and you’ll see her do something very similar. When she comes into her thinking brain, she comes out of that part of her BodyMind that easily finds a rhythm and flows with it, with her baby and birth. Asking the laboring woman a question during a contraction looks very similar to the awkward, halting that we saw the audience go through when McFerrin presented them with an option.

But notice, how quickly the rhythm returned when the audience again followed him. Here is another thing I see in labor. Just like in life…we search for the patterns. And we look to those we trust to help us find a pattern (rhythm) and help us stay there (ritual). We will go into a rhythm we may not really know or feel completely comfortable with if we can go there with a person we trust.

A laboring woman’s BodyMind is searching for the rhythm and she will follow a “trusted servant” (doula) even to that unknown rhythm if the expectation, as McFerrin mentioned at the beginning, is there that we will help her and that we will stay with her in that rhythm until the end.

The audience went willingly with McFerrin because they expected him to create a pattern, a rhythm they could follow. And they followed him, even anticipated where he was going, because they locked onto him…they attuned with him…and together, they made music.

A music lesson for the doula in all of us.


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