When you’re planning a celebration, a party or a wedding, at some point consideration is usually given to the music that will enhance the event. Increasingly people use their ipods to break up long journeys, and friends who have run marathons say that music ‘got them through’. In the same way it’s worth thinking about the benefits that music can bring to labour and birth and the ways in which it can help you on your big day. And in fact a recent study conducted with a group of Taiwanese first-time mothers suggests music can decrease pain in labour.
People’s musical tastes vary widely but most of us have favourite tunes which energise, relax or just lift our mood. All of these can be useful in labour. Trials show that music can lower perception of pain, help to regulate heart rate and breathing, reducing the amount of morphine type drugs needed. Music can also reduce anxiety which in turn can help you feel calm and in control.
In addition to this your own familiar tunes can help to personalise the birth space, set the tone and make the room feel like your own. These familiar tunes can stimulate endorphins and hormones which are helpful in labour acting as natural pain relief especially in the early stages of labour.
Something to relax you
Perhaps when you plan what music to pack you might think about what you would want to listen to on a long journey to pass the time; this could be helpful for the early stages of labour. Identify what music makes you feel comfortable and relaxed, some chill out music may help as labour progresses.
Something that makes you dance
Alternatively, what makes you dance? Although you may not be bopping your way through the birth, staying mobile can certainly help progress in labour, so it may be that music motivates you to stay off the bed and keep swaying, stomping or whatever else feels right at the time.
The findings of the study made in Taiwan support the value of offering music to women during the latent phase of labour to assist in reducing pain levels and lessening anxiety. Music lacks the harmful side-effects of pharmaceutical pain relief measures, and is simple to administer and control making it a relative simple practice to support in hospital settings. But of course… It depends on you! For your birth, you should think about what makes you happy and calm. If you like silence when you’re stressed, then maybe music isn’t the right choice for you. But the wonderful thing about using music as an intervention is that if it doesn’t feel right at the time, you can simply turn it off. How many things can you say that about?