Music Therapy for Pregnancy, Birth, and Parenting
“It helped me to withdraw when I felt I needed to take the opportunity to sleep… I think it did comfort me when nothing and nobody else could.” -Mother who used music therapy during labor and delivery of her child (Browing, 2001)
“’I couldn’t have made it without the music.’ ‘The music really made a difference.’ ‘The music made it feel so much more like home.’ ‘We were all brought together in a musical celebration of life.’ -Mothers and coaches who experienced music therapy during delivery (Hanser, Larson, & O’Connell, 1983)
“It was a way of connecting and maintaining that bond at a really difficult time… and especially in the early days, that was the only way I felt I could bond with him.” -Carol, mother of a child in the NICU who received music therapy. (McLean, 2016)
We have all experienced the power of music. Many of us belt out our favorite songs in the car, play an instrument, sing lullabies to our kids, and go to concerts. Music can bring us connection with others, help us to express ourselves, and transport us to different times and places in our lives.
Music therapy is an established allied health profession in which a credentialed professional (the music therapist) uses these positive aspects of music in a therapeutic environment. Music can be used to enhance communication, facilitate self-expression, and assist in wellness and healing.
Perinatal music therapy is simply when music therapy techniques are applied during fertility, pregnancy, birth, and postpartum. Research shows that music can be used to lower stress levels, reduce pain, and provide emotional and relational support to mothers and families, as well as enhance self-regulation and relaxation for infants.
As in all therapies, perinatal music therapy sessions are different for everyone. Some mothers seek music therapy because they need extra emotional or relational support during the perinatal period. Others are looking to enhance their birth experience through music. Some are struggling through the transition of postpartum, and others go to a music therapist because their baby needshelp with this adjustment!
Music therapy has been shown to assist in many ways during the perinatal period:
• Supports relaxation and gives emotional support for mothers and families experiencing infertility (Birth Music Therapy, 2017)
• Provides a family-centered way to prepare everyone for the arrival of a new baby.
• Provides a comfortable environment, reduction of pain and tension, mental focus, emotional comfort, and rhythm for organized movement during labor and delivery (Hanson-Abromeit & Gerweck, 2010).
• Fosters family and partner support (Hanson-Abromeit & Gerweck, 2010)
• Assists in bonding the mother with her child (especially through use of song and lullaby)
• Aids in breastfeeding support (Loewy, 2016)
• Provides a stabilizing, uterine-simulating environment through sound (Standley & Walworth, 2010)
• Increases oxygen saturation and decrease agitation for babies in the NICU (Schwartz & Ritchie, 1999)
• Provides developmental stimulation for infants who are indicated (Loewy, 2016)
• Provides emotional support after loss of a baby
• Music therapists can provide heartbeat recordings to music for family keepsake At Music Therapy Services, LLC, we can work with parents in a variety of ways.
For expecting parents, our Prenatal Music Therapy Package could be a great option if you are looking to incorporate music into your birth in various ways. The package includes four sessions that cover:
• Self-Care • Assessing needs during pregnancy
• Tools and techniques
• Creating a care plan for pregnancy
• Lullaby Creation • Choosing “Song of Kin”
• Creating a personalized lullaby
• Recording lullaby
• Music-Assisted Childbirth Plan • Choosing music for birth
• Integrating music into birth plan
• Review of coping skills for labor
• Postpartum Support • Integration of “Song of Kin”
• Creation of new lullabies
• Processing birth experience
For parents who are interested in just one of these areas, we also offer single sessions to address your specific area of need. In addition to this package, we also can schedule individual parent-only or parent-child sessions to support emotional wellness, bonding, expression, etc. We are here to support any needs that may arise during this time through music experiences.
If we can assist you in any way, or if you would like more information on music therapy, feel free to reach out to us via email, phone, or visit our website! We provide free, 30-minute phone consultations and would love to speak with you.
Birth Music Therapy. (2017). Fertility.
Retrieved from http://birthmusictherapy.com/fertility
Browning, C.A. (2001). Music therapy in childbirth: Research in practice. Music Therapy Perspectives, 19(2), 74-81.
Hanser, S.B., Larson, S.C., & O’Connell, A.S. (1983). The effect of music on relaxation of expectant mothers during labor. Journal of Music Therapy, 20(2), 50-58.
Hanson-Abromeit, D., Gerweck, J.S. (2010). Obstetrics. In D. Hanson-Abromeit & C. Colwell (Eds.), Medical Music Therapy for Adults in Hospital Settings (pp. 21-96). Silver Spring, MD: American Music Therapy Association, Inc.
Loewy, J. (2016). First sounds: Rhythm, breath, & lullaby [RBL] trainer compendium. New York, NY: Satchnote Press.
Mclean, E. (2016). Exploring parents’ experiences and perceptions of singing and using their voice with their baby in a neonatal unit: An interpretive phenomenological analysis. Qualitative Inquiries in Music Therapy: A Monograph Series, 11(2). Retrieved from https://www.barcelonapublishers.com/resources/QIMT11/McLean_Parents_Experiences.pdf
Schwartz, F. J., & Ritchie, R. (1999). Music listening in neonatal intensive care units. In Dileo, C. (Eds.), Music therapy and medicine: theoretical and clinical applications (pp. 13-22). Silver Spring, MD: The American Music Therapy Association, Inc.
Standley, J.M., & Walworth, D. (2010). Music therapy with premature infants: Research and developmental interventions. Silver Spring, MD: The American Music Therapy Association, Inc.
Who are we?
Cincinnati Birth and Parenting, LLC was founded by Molly Murray, a birth and postpartum doula and childbirth educator. Through this growing company, Molly connects parents with information, resources, and support while also staying committed to building up fellow professionals and connecting them with the people who need their services most.