Pregnancy is a lifetime experience that also brings various physiological, metabolic, and anatomical changes in a woman’s body, right from the time they conceive to birth and even after delivery. But have you ever noticed a woman’s voice change during pregnancy? If you enjoy singing but have found it difficult to do so after becoming pregnant, or if you observed a change in your voice after conceiving, there is no reason to panic as it’s quite normal. Pregnancy alters the quality and pace of perturbation of the voiceiXCyclic changes in frequency and intensity of voice observed while sounding words , especially during the third trimester (1). Moreover, due to fluid retention during pregnancy, your vocal cords may also swell up, resulting in voice change (2). Continue reading to learn more about how your voice may change when pregnant.
Causes Of Voice Change During Pregnancy
Voice change during pregnancy can be caused by any of the following reasons:
1. Hormonal changes
During pregnancy, the rapid rise of progesterone and estrogeniXA sex hormone responsible for the development of female sexual characteristics. levels affects the woman’s entire body, including the vocal cords (3) (4).
2. Increase in body fluids
3. Edema or swelling of the vocal cords
Just like the other parts of the body, the vocal cords also swell during pregnancy. It causes heaviness in the vocal folds, altering the singing range. Pregnant women lose top notes but gain notes at the bottom. Do not strain your throat to reach the top notes. The blood vessels are extremely fragile during this time and may rupture if you strain to reach the top notes. It may also cause the vocal cords to tear.
4. Shift in voice range
During pregnancy, the blood vessels dilate across the whole body, including the vocal cords resulting in vocal changes. In addition, the fragility of the vocal cord can also lead to a change in voice.
5. Decrease in lung capacity
You may experience difficulty in breathing during pregnancy. It is because the growing baby in your womb pushes the diaphragmiXThe large muscle located beneath the lungs that aids in breathing, passing of urine and stool, and prevention of acid reflux. and every other organ upwards. It results in a decrease in lung capacity, endurance, vocal fatigue, and a decrease in phonation timeiXThe duration of time a person takes to sound each vowel. (2).
6. Prone to LPR
During pregnancy, hormones lead to Laryngopharyngeal reflux (LPR)iXA condition in which the stomach acid comes back up through the esophagus into the larynx or throat. . It results in the relaxation of the sphincter, which keeps the food in the stomach and prevents it from coming to the larynx. When the stomach capacity reduces, you are more likely to regurgitate acid. You may experience excessive throat clearing, postnasal drip, and altered voice (2).
7. Decrease In Nasal Resonance
8. Change In Posture
During pregnancy, there is a shift in the pelvis, back, and chest. It alters the entire support mechanism of a woman’s body, so much that she may not be able to sing in her last trimester (2).
Cherish Tuttle, a mother of three and a singer, explains how her voice range changed during pregnancy. She says, “I was pregnant I found that my voice just seemed really tired all the time, it’s kind of a little bit raspy, more raspy than I had ever experienced in the past. I’m a vocal instructor, and so when I was pregnant, I found that I couldn’t sing as high as I normally can. I had a hard time demonstrating my vocal warm-ups when normally it was so easy. But, I found as soon as I had my baby everything kind of went back to normal, and I could sing at the same caliber that I was before, so really it just requires time and patience with yourself (i).”
When To Consult A Laryngologist
You should seek medical help in the following situations:
- If you notice a sudden change while speaking or singing or after sneezing or coughing.
- If you feel pain while speaking or singing.
- If you notice a significant loss of voice during pregnancy.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. Is there any way to prevent voice changes during pregnancy?
While vocal range changes during pregnancy cannot be prevented, a few measures can be taken to preserve vocal health to ensure proper prenatal care. These include keeping your vocal cords lubricated and well-rested, limiting caffeine, doing vocal stretches, avoiding smoking and drinking, and avoiding irritating the throat by either frequently clearing it or forcing a pitch (8).
2. How can I treat voice changes during pregnancy and improve my voice quality?
Home remedies such as hydration, steam inhalation, use of glycerine-based cough drops, and avoiding foods that trigger heartburn can help treat voice changes during pregnancy and improve voice quality You may further seek help from your obstetrician if you have any other concerns regarding your vocal or maternal health (9).
3. Can a change in voice during pregnancy be permanent?
Voice alterations during pregnancy, in most cases, are transient and go away after delivery (10). Once hormone levels return to pre-pregnancy, the voice usually returns to normal within a few weeks to a few months.
4. Is a change in voice a sign of pregnancy?
No. Even though the vocal cords can experience alterations due to hormonal changes during pregnancy, it is not an indicator of pregnancy.
5. Can stress or anxiety cause voice changes during pregnancy?
Stress and anxiety may cause voice changes during pregnancy. Hormonal changes and physical and emotional strain during pregnancy can affect the vocal cords and the muscles used for speech production (11).
6. Is it safe to take medication for voice changes during pregnancy?
Voice changes during pregnancy are common and seldom a cause for concern. However, if the voice changes are causing significant discomfort, your doctor may recommend some medications for symptomatic relief. The doctor will suggest medicines based on the mother’s overall health and the severity of the voice change.
Voice change during pregnancy is not uncommon and is seldom a reason for concern. The sudden shift in hormonal levels, vocal cord swelling, change in breathing patterns, and other medical reasons may lead to a change in your voice while pregnant. This change is more prevalent as you reach the last trimester. Moreover, your voice will return to normalcy in most cases soon after your baby’s birth. Nonetheless, it is important to consult a specialist if you have intense pain, detect sudden changes while speaking or singing, or have considerable voice loss during pregnancy.
Infographic: Causes Of Voice Change During Pregnancy
Owing to the myriad of inevitable changes when expecting, you may face peculiar conditions, including changes in the quality and pace of voice. Read on as we detail the possible causes of voice changes during pregnancy in the infographic below.
- During pregnancy, the pace and quality of voice perturbation can change.
- These changes are due to rapid changes in hormones, including high progesterone levels that cause the vocal cords to become swollen.
- Other factors that affect natural voice quality during pregnancy include nasal congestion, increased fluid, and shifts in posture.
Curious about the onset of a change in your voice while pregnant? Watch this video for answers to possible questions that you might have regarding the same.
Personal Experiences: Source
i. Singing while pregnant: Voice change during pregnancy.
- Pregnancy and voice: changes during the third trimester.
- Pregnancy and the voice.
- Effect of pregnancy on vocal cord histology: An animal experiment.
- ENT changes of pregnancy and its management.
- Cardiovascular physiology of pregnancy.
- Weight gain during pregnancy.
- Zamponi V et al.; (2021); Effect of sex hormones on human voice physiology: from childhood to senescence.
- 10 Ways to Keep Your Voice Healthy and Strong
- Voice care: Sorting fact from fiction
- Women’s voice pitch lowers after pregnancy.
- Mental health and Dysphonia: which comes first, and does that change care utilization?