If you noticed any difference in your voice shortly after having a baby, you might’ve been onto something. Of course, it’s hard to focus too much attention on how you sound during such a busy, exciting time, when your little one’s coos and cries command all the attention. But after your child has grown up a little (or a lot), you might be interested to know that women’s voices do actually get lower after a pregnancy, according to a recent study. But don’t freak out: This pitch drop is only temporary.
The May 2018 study, published in Evolution and Human Behavior, found that women’s voices dropped one whole piano note after giving birth to a child, but then went back to their previous frequencies about a year later. To come to these results, psychologists analyzed more than 600 interview clips of 20 mothers and 20 age-matched women who had never given birth over a 10-year period. This decade included five years before and after childbirth for the moms. Although the new moms’ voices became both lower-pitched and more monotonous, the good news is that their old voices were not gone forever.
So why does this odd temporary change happen to a new mom’s voice? The researchers have a couple of theories.
“One possible explanation is that this is caused by hormone changes after childbirth,” said lead researcher Kasia Pisanski, PhD, in a press release. “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.”
Dr. Pisanski added, “This effect could also be behavioral. 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.”
As strange as it is, we have to admit this research is pretty fascinating! Motherhood really does change everything, doesn’t it?