The Impact of Pregnancy on the Singing Voice: Insights and Advice

The Impact of Pregnancy on the Singing Voice: Insights and Advice

Pregnancy is a time of significant change for any woman, but for singers, these changes can directly influence their vocal performance and health. A recent study by Harper, Hazelton & van Mersbergen (2022) sheds light on the real-world experiences of pregnant singers, offering invaluable insights for those navigating this transformative period.

Understanding the Changes

The study, which surveyed 321 professional singers, found that pregnancy affects the singing voice in several ways, largely due to hormonal and mechanical alterations in the body. Despite common beliefs about how pregnancy might alter the voice, many singers’ experiences did not align with their expectations, underscoring the need for more concrete guidance and support.

Hormonal Effects

Pregnancy-induced hormonal changes, including increased levels of estrogen and progesterone, can affect vocal fold edema and mucosal tissue viscosity. This can lead to variations in vocal quality, range, and potentially, increased risk of vocal fatigue or injury.

Mechanical Changes

Mechanically, pregnancy impacts the body systems crucial for singing, such as the respiratory and musculoskeletal systems. An expanding uterus, for instance, can lead to perceived breathlessness and affect posture, both of which can challenge a singer’s control over their voice.

Real-World Experiences

Interestingly, about half of the surveyed singers reported their actual experiences during pregnancy matched what they had been told to expect, particularly regarding respiration. However, for aspects like phonation and vocal quality, less than a quarter found their experiences aligned with prior advice.

Practical Advice for Singers

Based on the study’s findings, here are some tailored recommendations for singers during pregnancy:

  • Stay Informed: Seek advice from a range of sources, including medical professionals, vocal coaches familiar with pregnancy, and peers who have navigated singing through their pregnancies.
  • Monitor Vocal Changes: Be attentive to how your voice feels and sounds, adapting your vocal technique and practice routines as needed to accommodate changes.
  • Prioritize Vocal Health: Engage in gentle vocal exercises that support voice flexibility and strength, such as semi-occluded vocal tract exercises, to mitigate potential strain.
  • Adjust Expectations: Be prepared for shifts in vocal range or quality and understand that these changes are often temporary and reversible post-pregnancy.

Looking Forward

The study by Harper and colleagues highlights a crucial gap in our understanding of pregnancy’s impact on the singing voice and underscores the importance of individualized care and education for pregnant singers. At VocaLab, we’re committed to supporting singers through every stage of their journey, offering tailored advice and training that accounts for the unique challenges and opportunities presented by pregnancy.

For more insights and guidance on maintaining vocal health and performance during pregnancy, visit us at VocaLab.


References

Harper, S., Hazelton, K., & van Mersbergen, M. (2022). Pregnancy and the Singing Voice: A Survey of What Singers Report. Journal of Voice. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jvoice.2022.03.019

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