Music: Can It Help Ease Your Birth?

I would like to know if music during delivery can have a positive effect on the birth? My husband is a musician and is convinced that music would help me.

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Peg Plumbo CNM

Peg Plumbo has been a certified nurse-midwife (CNM) since 1976. She has assisted at over 1,000 births and currently teaches in the... Read more

In the book, "Creating A Joyful Birth Experience" by Lucia Capacchione (1994), Fireside Publishers, the author says, "As you listen to various styles of music, you may notice that the rhythms, pitch, and tempo have different effects on your body. High pitched, faster, more vibrant music creates a playful and happy mood. Low pitched, quiet and slower rhythms create a feeling of calm. Music activates the flow of memories stored in the right hemisphere of the brain. During labor if you play music that is associated with pleasant memories, your body will automatically respond favorably. Your baby can also express her likes and dislikes about music. Therefore, she will respond with less stress if you are playing her favorite music during labor." Capacchione recommends experimenting during the antepartum time to see what your baby responds to.

As far as I know, there are no randomized controlled studies on this - indeed it would be rather difficult to do. Everyone would have a very subjective idea of what a favorable response to music would be. Some people might feel that an active fetal response would indicate fetal well being while others may feel that a calm baby indicates a favorable response.

Because pregnancy is an event of consequence for the couple not just for the mother, your husband's input may be important. Some partners feel very powerless in the face of labor and are unsure of their role. It may well be relaxing for HIM to hear familiar music as well.

I remember bringing music with me during labor, but not really being aware of it - mothers become so focused on other things. A friend of ours played the classical guitar to our baby in the hospital the day after she was born. We took a picture and while she obviously does not remember the music itself, the photograph reminds her of our love for her and how our friends welcomed her at that time in our lives.

"It can't hurt".

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