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Choosing Music to Be Born to...


Updated April 29, 2014

Pregnant Woman Listening to Music
Photo © iStockPhoto

When I teach my childbirth classes about using music in labor, we play a really fun game. I've got a playlist on my iPod that is entitled childbirth class. In there I have a very unique selection of music. The instructions are to raise your hand if it's something that you might consider listening to for your birth. Then I start the music.

The class gets to hear song selections from Beethoven to Prince, Sarah McLachlan to Hot Chocolate, and Amy Grant to the Mamas and the Papas. Some songs are slow, some are fast, some are merely ocean sounds or drum beats set to a baby's heart beat. There is never one song that everyone loves or everyone hates. It just goes to prove that music choice is much more personal than many believe when it comes to labor.

When asked what music is best for labor most women and men will give you answers that entail soft selections, peaceful and calming music or nature sounds. While these might be great for some women, they are not perfect for others.

To use music as a source of pain relief and relaxation in labor, you must feel a sense of connection with the music that is playing. If you choose the right music, you can increase your body's production of endorphins, nature's morphine-like substance used to combat pain in labor. So, what song does that?

The song that will help you fight the pain of labor and make it more comfortable is the music that makes you turn up your radio and sing even if people in the car next to you are staring at you. It's the music that makes you move in your seat, even when you know you should sit still. It can be music that you danced to at your wedding, it can be your favorite songs form high school, it can simply be music that you currently just really, really love. This is why it's different for everyone.

In my years as a doula, I've seen women give birth while listening to John Tesh and turn around and attend another birth where Pink Floyd was on tap. The bottom line is to choose music that you like. I do encourage you to find a selection of fast or moderate paced music for early labor it helps you bring out the dance and sway that helps rock the baby down into your pelvis. Then add some slower music for a calming effect in later labor or transition.

The use of an iPod has really revolutionized how music is brought to labor. No longer do you have to haul around 40 CDs or tapes to get a few songs on each CD. I'd also recommend that you have a small set of portable speakers in your labor bag.

Readers Respond: What music do you want for your labor?

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