Posted by on 04/11/2016

natural childbirthMany couples today choose to have a natural childbirth.  Research suggests that birth outcomes for mother and baby can be greatly enhanced through the natural childbirth process.  Family birthing centers are popping up around the country to meet this growing need.  If giving birth naturally is something you are considering, there are several nonpharmalogical interventions are available to laboring mothers including: hypnosis, biofeedback, touch and massage, hydrotherapy, acupuncture, and transcutaneous electric nerve simulation.  Another successful discomfort management technique being explored is the application of prepared music programs during Music Therapy Assisted Childbirth.

What is Music Therapy?

In the early 1980s, Music Therapists began to explore the use of “audioanalgesia” (sound for discomfort relief) in the music therapy process in working with labor and delivery patients.  Music therapists assist patients in the clinical application of music in suppressing the discomfort response, but can also work with patients in deeper psychological and emotional ways.  The process of “music therapy” differs from “music medicine” based on the establishment of a relationship between therapist and patient.  Music therapists specifically design and develop unique treatments for each patient based on the patient’s need and condition.

A Music Therapy Assisted Childbirth program is conducted by a board-certified music therapist, and consists of a series of sessions usually offered in the last trimester of pregnancy, can be done in person, or via Skype or FaceTime.  Some music therapists also provide labor and delivery support for the couple during the birth and post-natal visits.  In these sessions, you will:

  1. Learn how to use music to support your physical and emotional needs throughout the stages of labor and delivery.
  2. Receive assistance in selecting and applying a specially chosen music program to calm, comfort, block discomfort, and focus breathing while giving birth naturally
  3. Obtain instruction in imagery and relaxation techniques, movement training, singing of lullabies and womb songs, and other creative arts experiences.  (A womb song is a special song that is written for the baby while in utero.)

Familiar music can help comfort the mother during the birth experience and practice with the music before the birth is essential.  This therapy has been found to significantly decrease the mother’s anxiety and discomfort responses, decrease the need for analgesic medications during birth, and has contributed to overall positive feelings about the process of giving birth naturally.

15 Functions of Music when Giving Birth Naturally

A recent article on Ecocentric Mom’s blog suggests that music will keep your mind off the pain of childbirth and can help redirect your focus. Hopefully you lucky March subscribers have been using your WavHello CD as practicing with music before birth is essential. But why is childbirth elevated when listening to music?  Founder of Sound Birthing Music, Dr. Mary DiCamillo, lists 15 functions of music in labor:

  1. Supports breathing
  2. Induces a calm relaxing state
  3. Facilitates movement/position change
  4. Enhances comfort
  5. Evokes imagery
  6. Builds energy
  7. Creates or changes a mood
  8. Helps to express feelings: hope, sadness, frustration, joy, fear
  9. Fills the space with pleasant sounds, making it feel safe
  10. Helps you to pass the time
  11. Reminds you of pleasant memories
  12. Connect with baby
  13. Connect with birth partner
  14. Helps you to let go
  15. Makes birth a beautiful and enjoyable experience

The great thing is that music doesn’t just impact the couple and baby, but can change the feeling in the room and effect the entire birthing team.  After my daughter was born, the nurse commented on the appropriateness of the music we had playing for bonding immediately post partum.  Hearing “Isn’t She Lovely” put into words the feelings everything my husband and I felt after meeting our little girl.

This is a guest blog by Lauren Hines, owner of SongBirth NOLA (songbirthnola.com).  During Lauren’s own pregnancy in 2014, she founded SongBirth NOLA to teach moms how to use music to support their physical and emotional needs throughout the stages of labor and delivery.  Lauren is passionate about using music to empower and educate others. She studied Music Therapy at Berklee College of Music in Boston, MA, then moved to New Orleans for an internship at Children’s Hospital.   She has also worked as a Music Therapist at East Jefferson General Hospital, Jefferson Parish Schools and Hospice Associates and taught piano and guitar to children of all ages.  Ecocentric Mom’s April Pregnancy Box subscribers will receive an exclusive discount to her services.

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