I was fascinated to hear how motherhood affects the voice for approximately a year after giving birth. From personal experience I was fully aware of how the singing voice alters pitch: at different times of the menstrual cycle; as women go through the menopause; even girls reaching puberty – where their voices ‘break’ although not as dramatically as boys’ voices.
If you are interested in reading the article, it is here.
Voices – both male and female, are affected by hormones. Both boys and girls going through puberty, have changes in their voices: obviously boys have a more dramatic change. Female opera singers going through the menopause – particularly if they are high sopranos, have traditionally changed their repertoire, or even retired from singing altogether because their top notes can disappear – nerve wracking for any soprano. Of course with HRT, this has been managed more easily for singers. There are even variations in pitch during the monthly cycle that women have. It is widely thought that the vocal folds are affected by variations in hormones; resulting in their thickness and flexibility changing.
It makes absolute sense that motherhood should also result in variations in pitch; any mother will tell you the roller coaster of hormones both during pregnancy and afterwards. There is no surprise that the voice and pitch would be affected. I was surprised they put vocal pitch affected during pregnancy: personally I would say that physiologically it is difficult to support the breath particularly for higher notes as the pregnancy progresses, hence the vocal range of singers being affected.
I am also wondering if the voice remains at a slightly lower level after birth – for apparently a year, since we should be in a calmer place – and of course the changes and drops in hormones. When we are stressed our voices go higher. I wonder if subconsciously our bodies are preparing our voices and vocal folds to have a lower pitched voice to ensure we KNOW we should be calmer.
I have contacted the research team for this paper and am hoping to have a discussion. What is interesting is that it is Sussex University’s psychology department conducted the research. I believe, like them that physiological AND environmental influences change pitch of voice. I will ask them that question and report back! IN the meantime, be aware of your pitch of voice, whatever your age!