I find I use music in all different ways in my life, from a wake-up playlist to a playlist from my favorite movies to work around the house. Music has a way of relaxing or inspiring people, and is a great resource for laboring and birthing people.
Using music during labor can:
- lower pain during early labor
- can lower anxiety during labor and promote relaxation
- Improves experience of labor and birth
- help boost endurance
What the science says:
The studies on the scientific results on music and pain management are inconclusive and very. However, music is personal and subjective, and using music you prefer affects the relaxation,
We know that music stimulates central nervous system that effects memory and emotion. Two sources say:
“music may provide a means to reduce social stress and temper aggression in others.”https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3741536/
“Our findings indicate that music listening impacted the psychobiological stress system. Listening to music prior to a standardized stressor predominantly affected the autonomic nervous system (in terms of a faster recovery), and to a lesser degree the endocrine and psychological stress response.”https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3734071/
And most studies indicate that music supports the people that listen to it, though the science doesn’t discern why – they just know it helps and that’s good enough for me.
Train to relax:
An interesting point to make is that people can train themselves to relax to a particular music. It’s similar to hypnobirthing or meditation. Using the same music to relax to every time, trains your body to relax when that music is then heard. This could be extremely helpful during labor and birth.
What we can do as Doulas:
Since music is so personal and playlists needs to be customized to the person listening to gain the desired affects, it is important to have a sit down with your client about music and their labor. Find out their preferences on empowering music and calming music, and encourage them to create a playlist of both. Also, identify the moments they would like to utilize their playlists during their labor and birth.
Encourage them to start using their playlists during pregnancy, their calming playlist during meditation, and empowering playlist for workouts for example. This will help train their body and brain to work together when the music is playing.
Although, it’s important keep in mind some people do not like music and can find it distracting. Not everyone will rely on music as a form of pain relief during labor and birth. I once had a client that hated calming music, she said it grated on her nerves.
Everyone is different, and so is music. And though the science may not completely agree on why or how music works, we know it just does for many things like, anxiety, pain relief, and improve someone’s labor experience; and that is a great reason to use it during labor and delivery.