- We crank up the loud, angry music when we leave a particularly stressful day at work.
- Tribes and military have used drums to pump up the troops for battle in the same way a marching band pumps up the crowd at a sporting event.
- We play sad bluesy or country music when we get dumped which soon transfers to “I’m stronger than this” anthem music to get ourselves pumped out for a girl’s night out.
- We sing quite lullabies to babies as we rock them to sleep.
- Everyone who has visited a spa always recognizes the sounds of ambient music or the tinkling of flowing water that soon has us in a semi-conscious, trance-like state.
Music has long been used as a way to encourage a mom in labor whether she need quite music to help her relax, singing to distract her from the pain, or intense music to inspire her to keep going when things get tough.
What is Music/Sound Therapy?
Music or sound therapy in labor is using music or sounds to relieve pain, calm, encourage, distract, and help bonding with baby and/or family.
An article by Penny Simkin and April Bolding in The Journal of Midwifery and Women’s Health states “Audioanalgesia is the use of auditory stimulation, such as music, white noise, or environmental sounds to decrease pain perception. Its use is popular for the relief of pain during dental work, after surgery, and for other painful situations. It is also used during labor; in fact, many hospital maternity departments and birth centers provide CD/DVD tape players.” They go on to say, “Choosing music that helps her relax, lift her spirits, or greet her baby personalizes the birth event and may give her a greater sense of control.”
How Does Music Therapy Work?
A dissertation at Pepperdine University* listed “Seven Foundational Processes of Music Therapy Assisted Childbirth.”
- increases your sense of well-being
- lowers anxiety
- increases confidence
- shapes the mood of the environment
- impacts the way others interact in the environment
- creates a gentle, welcoming space
- enhances relationships and bonding
- enhances cultural connection
- brings cohesiveness to your support community
- evokes a mood or memory response
- shapes the emotional tone of your birth
- substantiates your state of feelings
- prepares you to transition into parenthood
- guides imagery
- evokes transpersonal experiences
Is Music Therapy Effective?
No one fully understands the mechanics of how music affects us but what is clear is that it does have an impact.
Numerous studies have observed how using music and sound in labor significantly impacts labor and birth. This particular study states, “This study provides evidence for the use of music as an empirically based intervention of women for labour pain and anxiety” and “The findings support that music listening is an acceptable and non-medical coping strategy for labouring women. Especially, apply in reducing the pain and anxiety for women who are at the early phase of labour.”
Music is also very helpful during c-sections. A friend of mine told me of the birth of her first child. At the beginning of her c-section there was music playing over the OR speakers. The doctor asked if she had requested it. She told him no. He then asked if he could put on his playlist and she was more than fine with that. Michael Jackson came pumping through the sound system. She immediately felt more relaxed and happy. She said it was more of a party than a scary surgical procedure.
We all know, even if it is subconsciously, that music affects us in a major way. It soothes us, energizes us, makes us ready to do battle, and bonds us with friends.
My advice is to take some time and build yourself three playlists.
- One for relaxing and keeping calm
- A moderate list to keep you going, songs that make you smile and remind you of how much you love your husband and baby.
- A powerful, energetic list that makes you feel like a fighter, a superhero, like Boudica facing the Roman army knowing she will destroy them.
Use your relaxing music to practice relaxation exercises, use the moderate songs while dancing together and talk about your dreams for your baby, and use the exciting songs to imagine yourself as Wonder Woman.
Dad, suggest a couple of songs that you would like to hear as well, especially if there are a few that remind you of your wife. Tell her how these songs make you think of how amazing she is. During labor, when this song plays, she will remember of that tender moment and it will encourage her.
I would also recommend picking one song that makes you feel especially close to your baby or writing a song to your baby. Sing this song throughout your pregnancy and labor to your baby. When your baby is placed on your chest and you see his face for the first time, sing this song to him. Continue to sing this song to him while rocking him, feeding him, and anytime he gets fussy. Make this his special song just from the two of you.
* DiCamillo, M. (1999). A bio-psycho-social model of music therapy assisted childbirth: an integrative approach to working with families. Doctoral dissertation, Pepperdine University, CA.