Benefits of listening to music during labour
Some women choose to use music during labour, either as a way to motivate them or keep them calm during contractions. For some women, controlling their birthing environment helps them to feel empowered during labour. While you can’t redecorate the birthing suite, you can do things to make it feel more like home. Music is a great way to change the ambience, and will distract from the background sounds of the labour ward.
Listening to pleasant music can release dopamine into the brain. Dopamine is strongly associated with feel-good activities such as sex and food, and may act as a form of pain relief. Scientists believe music can lessen patients’ experience of pain at the dentist, so why not give it a go during childbirth? As well as triggering the release of chemicals, music can act as a distraction from the discomfort. If you are focused on the music, you will be less focused on any discomfort you may be experiencing.
Music has been found to relieve the physiological symptoms of stress. During labour, these symptoms can act to impede labour by triggering the fight or flight response. Music can lower blood pressure, slow breathing down and ease muscle tension, all of which could have a positive effect on labour.
Most hospitals and birthing centres have CD players or music docks available, but it is worth checking in advance. If your hospital does not offer this service, they may allow you to bring your own in. Some women choose to listen to the music on headphones instead.
If you are having an elective cesarean, whether you are allowed music playing will depend on your surgeon. Some are happy to allow patients to choose music, but others may find it distracting which isn’t really ideal for operating! Speak to the hospital in advance, and find out what to expect on the day. Unlike with a vaginal birth, you should know in advance exactly how long the birth will last, and can plan a playlist accordingly.
What to listen to
If you want to use music during labour, you should create a playlist including your favourite songs. Try to cover all the bases – emotional, upbeat, angry and calming – you’ll probably experience a variety of emotions during childbirth.
It’s impossible to predict how you will feel on the day. You may find that after spending hours producing the perfect mix playlist for labour, you then want to sit in stoney silence throughout. If you usually like calm, sensual music, you may find yourself yearning for some loud, angry heavy metal for the pushing stage of labour. Be prepared, and take a mix of music types, so that you have something to suit every mood.
What songs have you got on your labour playlist?
Written by Fiona (@Fiona_Peacock), mother, writer and lover of all things baby related.
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a trained medical doctor. Health & Parenting Ltd disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information, which is provided to you on a general information basis only and not as a substitute for personalized medical advice. All contents copyright © Health & Parenting Ltd 2017. All rights reserved.