Given that the entire premise of new horror film A Quiet Place rests on the characters being quiet, a huge source of tension is that one of the characters, Evelyn (Emily Blunt), goes into labor during the climax of the movie. Even when her water breaks, Evelyn has to remain completely silent or risk certain death at the hands of monsters that hunt by sound.
To say the least, it's not the typical labor scene you get in movies — where a person giving birth is free to scream as much as they'd like. Thanks to a distraction that Evelyn's son sets off, she's able to let out at least one satisfying scream as she gives birth. But, even so, the movie raises the question: Is it possible to give birth in complete silence?
Malaika Alert, a certified birth doula in Washington, D.C., says that she's actually been present at several births where moms were silent throughout — including one mom who she says was so quiet, it was hard to tell whether or not she was having contractions.
While Alert says it's totally normal to scream, yell, and generally make a lot of noise throughout labor and birth, she says some people might also do so because they're influenced by how much pain they anticipate.
"A lot of the time, people see in movies and TV that moms giving birth are screaming. Or, they're told by family and friends that birth is going to be really painful," she says. "You think that you're supposed to be screaming."
But, for those who do need to scream it out, Mariel Lugosch-Ecker, a certified doula for Open Hands Doula Care, says that making sounds during birth, especially low moans, might be a way to cope with pain, and can actually be a way to help labor along.
While it might help one person to scream through labor, that might not be the case for everyone.
"The natural instinct to make noise — which I think a great majority of people have — serves a physiological purpose, which is helping the pelvic floor relax so that dilation can happen and labor progression can happen," she says.
Vocalizing your pain, Lugosch-Ecker adds, can help you feel more comfortable and aid in the flow of hormones like oxytocin, which induces labor.
That being said, there's no one way to give birth, and while it might help one person to scream through labor, that might not be the case for everyone.
"Just like most of life, labor and birth can look like so many different things for so many different people," Lugosch-Ecker says. "I've seen births where it really helps someone to roar through, and they feel really powerful and warrior-like, and I've seen births where the person wants to lie in bed and gets really internal and maybe only moans a little throughout."
For what it's worth, Alert says that the labor sequence in A Quiet Place was fairly realistic (given the circumstances): from Evelyn's breathing during her contractions to the scream that she lets out once the noise-monsters are distracted. The perfect storm of tension in that labor scene is not just an acting feat from Emily Blunt, it's also a reminder that women are strong as hell, and yes, silent labor really is possible.
As Lugosch-Ecker puts it, "Throughout history, people have given birth in some really trying situations. Babies are born in war zones, and women are so strong."
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