Raise your hand if you think that birth deserves some G-damn peace and quiet!

Hand up? Ok, great, we agree…well, it’s not just you and me that agree my friend, but science too!

Without going into a long complicated summary of the different hormones at play during childbirth (a story for another day I’m sure), there’s really just two hormones you need to know about to understand the effects of loud environments in birth.

Meet hormone #1: Oxytocin (a.k.a. the “love” hormone).

Oxytocin is released every time we are hugged, kissed, massaged, or when a lover whispers sweet nothings into our ears. It is the feel good hormone that just so happens to also be responsible for contracting the uterus (i.e. during an orgasm, or during labor). How cool is that?

So basically (and I mean on a veeerrrrry basic level), More Love = More Oxytocin = Stronger Contractions = Shorter, Easier Birth.

Now meet hormone #2: Catecholamines (a.k.a the “danger” hormone).

Norepinephrine, Epinephrine (adrenalin), and Cortisol together are known as “Catecholamines.” These bad boys get secreted when we feel tense, fearful, anxious, unsure, or scared. The Catecholamines are what block Oxytocin and other feel good hormones that are pumping during labor.

Back in the day, these hormones protected us in labor by quickly shutting down the process of birth in situations that would make delivering a baby unsafe, like if, for instance, a tiger were to jump out and started chasing you!

Hospitals can be Catecholamine factories.

Ideally, birth should take place in a place that makes you feel safe, loved, and protected. Imagine quiet sounds, dim lights, and being surrounded by trusted, patient, and kind helpers. Maybe even a place where you can snuggle and kiss up on your sweetie. Whatever gets that oxytocin flowing baby!

This type of quiet and peaceful environment are what helps get labor going and stay going.

Unfortunately most hospitals today are not designed for creating this type of tone and are often guilty of doing quiet the opposite. There are strangers coming in and out of your “birth nest” constantly. You are poked and prodded frequently, often with overtones of “let’s just make sure you and you’re baby are still breathing mmm.k?,” (hello anxiety!). Plus, the fluorescent lights and beeping of machines are a constant affront to your “primal brain.”

So what’s a “want-to-create-a-homey-feeling-hospital-birth” mama to do?

Or, better yet, how can your labor-support person best help you create a peaceful birth environment?

Well, trying to cover all my tips and tricks would be waaaaaaayyyy too long a blog post. (comment below if you think I should turn this post into a series), so, instead, I’ll just give one of my best and easiest tricks for helping with the “noise” factor in hospitals.

A nurse comes into the room and starts introducing herself (there’s just been a shift change). She is very excited and friendly and starts getting caught up on how birth’s been going by asking lots of questions to the Mom and then starts excitedly talking about how great baby’s looking. She is sweet and helpful….but she’s also LOOOOUUUUD….plus she keeps directing her questions to the mom, who at this point really just wants to be off in “labor land.”

Do you as labor support:

(A). Pull out the birth plan, and aggressively start pointing to where it says “please keep the environment quiet for mom?” Maybe add in a few exaggerated “shhhhhh” movements?

(B). Confront the loud offender with exclamations of “hey! could you keep it down over there! She’s trying to have a baby if you don’t mind?”

or (C). Diffuse the situation with a whisper and a smile?

Ding ding ding! Answer C for 500 gold stars!

Don’t fight fire with fire.

Your priority is peace. Your priority is quite.

Trying to shush a loud visitor with loud movements or confrontations will only make things worse for the Mom.

Instead, fight fire with water and kill em’ with kindness.

Watch this 2 min video that goes over just exactly how powerful a whisper can be when creating and maintaining a peaceful birth environment.

Click below to watch how easy it is to diffuse birth-room tension with a whisper and a smile.

Simplicity always wins don’t you think?


In the comments below, I’d looove to know:

  • How’d you like the video?!
  • What other challenges are you afraid of facing in the hospital?

And if you know any doulas or soon-to-be parents out there, feel free to share this video with them.

Thanks for giving me a reason to share this stuff friend. I hope you found this helpful.

Be well!

sam wright, childbirth educator

P.S.You can grab some of my best tips to having an easier and shorter hospital birth by taking my free 4-part video course on how to avoid a long labor HERE.