Music Therapy and Labor & Delivery

Music Therapy works across the lifespan, so I’m going to focus a few articles on how it works with the different populations.

Many years ago, I attended some presentations at music therapy conferences on how music therapists work with pregnant women. I learned that music therapists wanting to work in this area really need specialized education on the birthing process and how music may affect that. I don’t have that specialized education, so I’m going to share some general information and some resources for finding music therapists who specialize in that area.

According to an article by Dr. Fred J. Schwartz, music can help
+speed up labor
+decrease pain perception in labor and delivery.
+decrease the stress response to labor, benefitting both mother and newborn
+allow some control over the labor & delivery environment
+express both the struggle and joy of birth
+celebrate the special occasion.
Music can be beneficial whether the delivery is natural, with anesthesia, or C-Section.

You may select your own music to use during the birthing process. If you do this, I recommend selecting music that helps you to relax and slows your thoughts and your breathing. I also recommend listening to this music and relaxing to it regularly throughout your pregnancy, so that you will be more likely to have a “relaxation response” when you listen to it during labor and delivery. Select a time each day to listen to your selected playlist while sitting or lying down and clear your mind. Focus on your breath as you inhale and exhale. When your mind wanders, just notice that you had a thought and gently bring your attention back to your breath.

If you would like more support and guidance, choose a music therapist and birth doula. My sister used one for her first pregnancy and it was an amazing experience to witness. As the aunt-to-be, I felt better from the waiting room knowing that my sister had this support. I imagine my sister felt even better than I did having that support! To find out more about music therapy and birth doulas, check out Giselle Whitewell’s Center for Prenatal and Perinatal Music.

I do not recommend putting headphones on your belly when pregnant, however. Babies can hear sounds and music without the speakers being placed directly on the mother’s tummy, so these headphones are unnecessary and may overstimulate your baby.

If you’d like some help finding a music therapist/doula, contact me.