In a recent interview Kristen Bell told People Magazine that an unexpected event occurred during her pregnancy. The 33 year old, who stars as Anna in the upcoming animated Disney film Frozen, said “The pregnancy did change my voice. It made it deeper; there were more womanly tones when I did one recording while I was extremely pregnant. After I had the baby, I had to go back and re-record those lines so they matched.”
Bell said that the change wasn’t too obvious while she was speaking, but once she got in the recording booth it was clear her tone just wasn’t the same. “When you heard it, you couldn’t really place why it was different but it was. It was one of those hormonal things that happen, I guess,” she said.
David Bakke, Medical expert at Money Crashers, says, “Hormonal changes affect virtually every area of a woman’s body during pregnancy, including the vocal cords. Estrogen levels rise significantly and progesterone levels shift as well. It typically subsides shortly after delivery.”
Vocal deepening during pregnancy could also be the result of pressure on the vocal cords due to the extra fluid volume during pregnancy. According to Helene Byrne of BeFit-Mom, “Pregnancy increases blood volume by 50% and increases other body fluids by about 6 pounds. The effect of this extra volume is amplified in small body spaces, which is why Carpal Tunnel Syndrome during pregnancy is common. The extra fluid volume at and near the vocal cords means that they vibrate at a slower than normal rate, deepening the voice.”
As with hormonal changes in pregnancy, in general, both male and female voices change over time as our hormone levels change. “As we age, we lose coordination of the larynx to and vocal cords begin to atrophy. In women, voices usually become lower and the opposite is true for men,” says David Bakke. “Both genders experience a difficulty in raising their voice and it may become shaky as well. One of the best ways to protect your voice as you age is to limit the amount of yelling and try to raise your voice as little as possible. The more you speak in your natural tone of voice, the longer you will preserve it.”
While the voice may change during pregnancy the vocal cords will bounce back to normal shortly after the baby is born, but a certain amount of change to the sound of our voices is inevitable as time goes on. If the voice is kept strong though, it is possible to work long into one’s prime as a voice-over artist.