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Friday, August 5, 2011

Using Music Therapy During Birth

I just came across an article talking about the benefits of music therapy for those who are ventalated.  While good quality research is still lacking, itt appears to reduce stress, heart rate, and respiratory rate.  Of course I got to thinking about how this might help women in labor. 

Music therapy is more that just listening to your favorite calming song.  According to the American Music Association, "Music Therapy is an established health profession in which music is used within a therapeutic relationship to address physical, emotional, cognitive, and social needs of individuals. After assessing the strengths and needs of each client, the qualified music therapist provides the indicated treatment including creating, singing, moving to, and/or listening to music. Through musical involvement in the therapeutic context, clients' abilities are strengthened and transferred to other areas of their lives. Music therapy also provides avenues for communication that can be helpful to those who find it difficult to express themselves in words. Research in music therapy supports its effectiveness in many areas such as: overall physical rehabilitation and facilitating movement, increasing people's motivation to become engaged in their treatment, providing emotional support for clients and their families, and providing an outlet for expression of feelings."

From that same website is this example of using music therapy in labor:

Music Therapy Assisted Childbirth Helps Moms (and Coaches) Through Labor

Everyone knows that labor and delivery can be a painful and sometimes anxiety producing experience for the mother, the coach, and even the hospital staff.  Music therapists can help reduce these negative aspects of childbirth by providing music therapy before, during, and even sometimes, after the birth of a child.  The following summary is evidence of the positive effects of Music Therapy Assisted Childbirth.
In 1983, Hanser, Larson, and O’Connell studied the use of music to enhance relaxation and decrease pain responses in mothers during childbirth. The music therapists used music to cue rhythmic breathing, assist the mothers in relaxation, prompt positive associations, and help focus attention on the music as a diversion from pain and hospital sounds. A small sample of seven Lamaze-trained mothers was used and subjects served as their own controls. Two individual music therapy sessions were conducted with the subjects prior to the birth experiences.  In the first session the music therapist established rapport and determined the musical preferences of the mother.  Prior to the second session the music therapist developed an individualized music program for each mom.  During the second session the mothers were familiarized with their music programs and instructed in relaxation and breathing techniques.
The music therapists attended the births and monitored music during the experience.   During labor each mother experienced periods of music and non-music and were observed under both conditions.  Observations of tension and relaxation in various parts of the body were made and recorded.  Two other relaxation behaviors, breathing and verbalization were observed and recorded as positive, negative, or neutral.  During the delivery phase the music therapists played music that was specially selected by each mother and her coach. 
One week after the delivery each mother was given a post-delivery questionnaire and was asked how the music helped her concentrate, relax, and whether it helped with rhythmic breathing. Results indicated that all of the mothers had fewer pain responses in the music vs. no-music condition, and that music aided concentration, relaxation, cued breathing, and diverted attention from pain.  
Coaches and hospital staff also responded well to the music, indicating that the music made a positive contribution to the labor and delivery experience. 
Submitted by Mary DiCamillo, Ed.D., MT-BC.  Mary DiCamillo, Ed.D, MT-BC, is a Pre- and Peri-Natal Music Therapist/Doula at The Sound Birthing Program in Rancho Santa Margarita, California.  This summary is based on the following article published in the Journal of Music Therapy, which is the research journal of the American Music Therapy Association.  Hanser, S., Larson, S.C. & O’Connell, A.S. (1983).  The effect of music on relaxation of expectant mothers during labor.  Journal of Music Therapy, 20 (2), 50-58. 

Oddly enough, I just met a music therapist and asked her about the use of this therapy during labor.  I'm hoping to get some good insight from her and will be posting more about this later. For those interested here's a few more links to others experiences with music therapy during labor and birth:

http://www.lesley.edu/journals/jppp/9/Hanser.html
http://www.prenatalmusic.com/pages/benefits.php

2 comments:

Dr. Mary DiCamillo said...

HI this is Mary DICamillo. I wrote that journal article posted above review years ago. Since then I have helped many women experience the birth experience they desired through the Sound Birthing Music Therapy Assisted Childbirth process. Additionally, I birthed all 3 of my children in this amazing process all without the need for pain medications. It really works and every time I hear music that was played during labor it takes me right back to those moments and that empowering experience. : ) MD

Rachel said...

Dr. DiCamillo-

I am so excited to hear from you. I am now started a certification company for doula students and I would be really interested in looking at more of your research or techniques to use in the course I now teach. YOu can see it at www.trainingdoulas.com. Music therapy in one thing I introduce, but would love to delve more into it. I would love any info you could give me:)

Birth is a Journey: Does it have to be life changing?


  • One woman might have to climb on an overfilled boat, risking her life and nearly dying as she escapes over the ocean to come to this land. This experience could certainly be life altering. It may very well color the rest of her life, positively or negatively. (I overcame this amazing struggle and here I am triumphant! OR Holy crap, that was SO hard I don’t know if I can go on! By the way, neither response is “right”. No one would judge the woman with the 2nd response.)
  • One woman may buy an airplane ticket, sit on a comfortable 747 and fly to America with a nice smooth flight and landing. She is happy to be in America. Those welcoming her are glad she is here safe and sound. She may only travel by plane 2-4 times in her life, so it is pretty memorable. But the journey itself probably wouldn’t be life changing; it would simply be a journey.
  • One woman may learn to fly an ultra-light plane to lead a flock of geese into America teaching them to migrate. This experience could certainly be empowering and life altering.