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Sunday, 12 May, 2002, 00:03 GMT 01:03 UK
Singing through the pain barrier
Mrs Fernandez and her children
Mrs Fernandez used her voice to cope with childbirth
Giving birth has been described as one of the most intense pains a woman can experience. BBC News Online's Jane Elliott talks to one woman who broke the pain barrier simply by using her voice.

During her first pregnancy professional singer Barbara Fernandez suffered a slow and excruciating 16 hour labour.

The second time around she was determined to be more in control of her own body and so used her voice as a natural pain relief.

Apart from three mouthfuls of gas and air Mrs Fernandez needed no additional pain relief when her daughter Adara was born 19 months ago and described the whole birthing experience as a "wonderful and empowering."

"It was amazing. It enabled me to enter into a different state of mind. It let me become more connected with my body and able to listen to it.

This is too wonderful not to share it

Barbara Fernandez


"I can now understand how women in primitive tribes get by without using pain relief."

She said Adara's birth could not have been more different from that of her brother Arcadio.

"I will never forget her birth it was one of the best experiences of my life.

"I wish I had known about it the first time around."

Although a professional singer Mrs Fernandez admitted the noises she made were more like primitive grunting than recognised songs.

"It was not like singing arias. It was very primitive. There were some very raw sounds, but I was not running away from the body or my pain.

"I was in a primal and primitive state."

Mrs Fernandez, of Cambridge, said she had booked into a private maternity unit and admitted that the noise levels would have made both an NHS or home birth rather difficult.

Pain relief

She was so impressed with the whole experience that she now plans to look into teaching others the techniques to help ease their birth pains.

"I have the skills to be able to help other women to be able to do it and I would like to be able to do that, it is so empowering. But I will need to do more research.

"This is too wonderful not to share it."

Sue Jacob, of the Royal College of Midwives said they were always interested in exploring new ways of dealing with pain relief.

She said giving birth was a natural process and that where possible natural pain relief should be used and that these methods were becoming more diverse.

"We know women who are using a whole range of natural remedies from massage to acupuncture and we support any technique that supports the natural process of child birth."

Mrs Fernandez can be contacted

See also:

18 May 00 | Medical notes
Pain relief during labour
05 Jul 01 | Health
Doubt over birth pain relief
11 Sep 00 | Health
Women 'afraid of giving birth'
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