As you prepare for your upcoming birth, have you given thought to what, if any, music you'll play during labor? Whether you're a music aficionado or not, you might be surprised at how adding music to the environment of your labor and birth can help change your mood, reduce your pain, and increase your comfort. In fact, music is so powerful, there is even a clinical practice called "music therapy," which is an evidence-based technique used to aid people in a variety of therapeutic goals.
The body of research available on music use during labor and birth is small, but what we do know is that music can reduce your perception of pain, improve your mood, provide an effective distraction, increase pain-relieving hormones, and make it feel like labor goes by more quickly. Couple these benefits with the fact that there are no risks of using music in labor (other than, maybe, the music becoming irritating or triggering, in which case it can be turned off or changed) and you can see why this coping strategy is an easy go-to for most people!
Of course, not all music is created equally, and music preferences can vary widely by person. As you put together a playlist for labor, you'll want to consider a few things.
Length - Ideally, you'll have 8-10 hours+ of music for your playlist.
Genre - Consider music that you love, and also consider music that you may not love but that will be soothing to you. For example, you may not have an emotional attachment to classical piano music, but you might really like the way it makes you feel or listening to it in the background. In general, more instrumental music may be better received during labor.
Timing - Consider breaking up your playlist into smaller chunks or themes. For example, include the slower, low key songs for early and active labor. Then create a more upbeat, faster tempo list for late active labor and transition. You may also want to consider music to be played around the time of your baby's birth, aka "entrance music."
Realistically speaking - Keep in mind that your birth is not a play in three acts -- it cannot be scripted against a minute-by-minute soundtrack set to play at just the right moment. Even if you have a designated DJ (like your partner or a doula) to change out the music, it's important to remember that it may not play exactly when you planned. Like anything you do in preparing for your birth, make a plan, outline your preferences, then go with the flow. If your "pushing" songs play when your baby is being born, consider yourself lucky that pushing didn't take as long as you thought it might!
Another option - Instead of creating a specific playlist, consider creating a set of channels you think would work well for labor. Of course, this will leave the song selection more open, but it's also an easy no-fuss way to get music that you (mostly) like for a good length of time. Most free music streaming services include commercials, so consider whether you want to pay for a subscription to make sure it's ad-free during your birth.
Looking for inspiration for your labor playlist? Check out these articles we found on the 'net:
My Labor Playlists (Happy Healthy Mama)
Music for Labor: Mom's Favorite Songs (Baby Center)
Four Music Playlists for Labor and Delivery (Living, Unabridged)