If you follow celebrity gossip, you might recall all the media hype around silent birth when Katie Holmes, then partner to actor and Scientologist Tom cruise, was expecting her daughter Suri. While you might have got the impression that it’s the mom who isn’t allowed to utter a sound during the birth, it actually has to do with the people that’s with the mom during her labour.
As we know from Tom Cruise’s explanations, the idea of a “silent birth” comes from Scientology doctrine. It’s based on the principle that expecting moms must be provided with the utmost care and respect and that everyone attending the birth should be as silent as possible during the labour to help mom and baby through the experience.
Is a silent birth better for your baby?
While there’s no scientific evidence that a silent birth is better for your baby, we can definitely appreciate that you might like to have a calm environment in which to labour if you’re having a natural birth. We know that the last thing you need is people cheering you on to “Push!” as if you’re in a rugby scrum about to catch a ball! On the other hand, though, we’re betting that you’ll be so focused on pushing your baby out that you’ll hardly notice what’s happening around you.
What our expert says
According to Christine Klynhans who’s been as a practising midwife in South Africa for over 20 years, she’s never specifically attended a birth where the parents requested a silent birth as part of their religion. Nor has any of her colleagues. But, she adds, in sensitive midwifery-led births, “silence is almost a given, as we know that a darker, quiet, private and unobserved environment is the one in which the birth hormones function optimally.”
As for any noise during the labour harming the baby’s psyche as he grows up, Christine reminds us that babies have the ability to hear all sorts of sounds, both inside and outside the uterus, from early in your pregnancy. “I really don’t think the usual noises in a labour room is enough to traumatise a baby – but if there is a lot of shouting, or screaming, and mom’s stress hormones are starting to affect baby, it’s not supportive of a good birth experience.”
Content editor and writer on Living & Loving, Sonya has over 25 years experience in the media industry. She edited Living & Loving magazine for six-and-a-half years and is the former editor of Longevity magazine. She’s won numerous media industry awards and is passionate about the health and wellbeing of moms and children.
Outside of work, she enjoys trying out recipes, reading crime mysteries and thrillers, practicing yoga, and exploring new destinations.
Learn more about Sonya Naudé.