being a mom

Well This Is Strange, New Moms’ Voices Get Lower After Pregnancy

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This is just fascinating! We all know that some really weird stuff happens to your body during and after pregnancy. Even weirder stuff happens to your brain and biochemistry (mom brain is real, guys). But this is a new one! A new study says that new moms’ voices actually change after having their first baby.

According to researchers, new moms’ voices get lower after having their first baby. So if you feel like your voice is a bit deeper postpartum, there’s a reason!

The longitudinal study was conducted by Dr. Kasia Pisanski, Kavya Bhardwaj, and Prof. David Reby at the University of Sussex. They analyzed women’s voices over a 10-year period, for five years before childbirth and five years after. The researchers found that new moms’ voices tended to get lower and more monotonous right after having a baby. It’s called “vocal masculinising”, and it’s not due to age or other factors, since the voice reverts back to normal pitch about a year later. The study sample included 20 mothers and 20 age-matched controls who’d never given birth. Voice recordings were obtained from archives, giving researchers the chance to analyze voice patterns before, during, and after pregnancy.

On average, postpartum women’s voice pitch dropped by over 5%. That’s equivalent to more than one piano note.

Says Dr. Kasia Pisanski, “We found that women’s voices become lower-pitched and more monotonous after giving birth. One possible explanation is that this is caused by hormone changes after childbirth. Previous research has shown that women’s voices can change with fertility, with pitch increasing around the time of ovulation each month, and decreasing following menopause. We know that after pregnancy, there’s a sharp drop in the levels of key sex hormones, and that this could influence vocal fold dynamics and vocal control.”

When in doubt, blame it on the hormones!

Dr. Pisanski believes the change can also be behavioral. She says, “Research has already shown that people with low-pitched voices are typically judged to be more competent, mature, and dominant, so it could be that women are modulating their own voices to sound more authoritative, faced with the new challenges of parenting. Additionally, new mums often experience increased mental and physical fatigue, as well as changes in mood and self-perception. This could be reflected in their voices, although given all we know about the impact of hormones and social context on vocal pitch, it’s unlikely that this effect is due just to tiredness alone.”

New moms’ voices change the most right after childbirth, and usually return to normal after about a year. So if you don’t recognize the sound of your own voice after you’ve had your first baby, don’t worry. The rest of your life will never be the same, but that will eventually correct itself.

(Image: iStock / AleMoraes244)

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