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What is a Birth Playlist? Designer Music for Mom

What is a Birth Playlist? Designer Music for Mom

Music is very important in my family.  I come from a family of musicians, and my husband and I are both musicians. We even play gigs together, in lieu of “date nights,” on a regular basis. So for me, laboring without music was unthinkable. I had used music to manage pain and loss in many situations, so I knew (which science also supports) that music would help me manage labor pains.

I was right.

I used music throughout the entire labor of all three of my births. It truly saved me – it gave me a steady confidence in myself and my body’s ability to birth (which is critical for women), kept me focused and calm, and overall, made it possible for me to labor and deliver naturally.

When it came time to deliver my first child (after 36 hours of difficult labor), my husband made sure (we pre-planned this) I had a continuous play of meditative, calm solo piano music wafting through the room.  Why? I wanted flowing, low, and quiet music playing so I could hear my baby’s first breath, first sounds, first cries. I will never forget that moment, welcoming my child into the world in a room silent, except for my baby’s breath and the sounds of Gabriel Yared’s arrangement of Convento Di Sant’Anna.

I can attest that in my first birth the music helped to calm and attune everyone, including the medical staff. Nurses and hospital staff dropped into my room just to hear the music, even though I was not assigned to their caseload. “I just had to come hear the “calm” everyone was talking about at the nurses station!” they’d say as they popped their head in the door of my postpartum room.

During my third birth, I chose to birth to the soothing sounds of Native American music, part of my Cherokee Indian heritage. I will never forget the moment (or the music that was playing) when each of my three sons was born. Each of those days was the greatest of my life. Music helped solidify those memories by giving them a “theme song.”  Now when I hear those songs play I get to relive the moment that I became a mother, the moment when I truly began to know the capacity and all-consuming power of love.

Music Set Up Details

These days setting up a stereo requires no more effort than carrying your smartphone to the birth facility. However, relying on just your smartphone or iPad speakers may not be enough to fill the space of your labor room. I am a musician and great lover of music, having grown up with it all my life.  So during my birth, naturally (no pun intended) I wanted the best sound.  My hubby went right out and bought a tiny set of speakers for $30 or so and connected them to (at the time) our iPod.

Since you will be, ahem, “busy” during labor, make sure the partner ‘unit’ takes care of music setup, like mine did. In fact, setting up music was the first thing he did when we got settled into our room. Of course, if you are home birther, no transport is necessary, just plug and play! For more “how-to’s” on planning music for your birth, see my blot post on Secrets for Easing Labor Pains.

The Magic Pain Soother

Perinatal Nursing supports that music can be an effective means for managing both pain and stress during labor. Using music during childbirth, in a 2000 study, shows the planned use of music by mothers during labor has a significant effect on their perception of pain (Browning 2000).

Another second study in 2000 revealed perinatal physicians, nurses, and caregivers became more relaxed, slowed their activities, and demonstrated increased respect for laboring mothers when music was used (Difranco 1998). Music was also found in a (Wiand 1997) study, when combined with progressive relaxation, to be more effective in inducing relaxation in laboring mothers.

In the months before each of my sons were born, I started creating my “Birth Soundtrack.” When the big day came, wafting from my labor room like a sweet breeze, were sounds of “designer music” from my birth playlist.

Sounds that both soothed and motivated me to work diligently and gracefully toward delivering my sons into this world. To make my playlists, I scoured my music library and uploaded artists sounding out from across centuries of music… from Mozart’s Serenade for Winds to Sam Cooke’s That’s Where It’s At.

So to help a mama out, I’m sharing a few of the songs from my own playlists, edited, honed, and carefully planned out over a period of 7 years, 3 pregnancies, and 3 births.

Baby Dance Playlist – I used this playlist for months and months after my babies were born. I would scoop them up and dance with them, pray over them at naptime, and watch them joyfully play and grow, with this playlist.

  • Baba Yetu [feat. Soweto Gospel Choir] 3:30 Christopher Tin Calling All Dawns World
  • A Change Is Gonna Come 3:13 Sam Cooke Portrait Of A Legend 1951-1964 R&B
  • Cheek To Cheek 3:47 Ella Fitzgerald English Patient Classical
  • Dali, Ingavuka And Mashlalela 4:00 University Of Johannesburg Choir The Road Home Other
  • Emakhayeni 1:28 University Of Johannesburg Choir The Road Home Other
  • Emarabini 1:35 University Of Johannesburg Choir The Road Home Other
  • Gqobhoka Lomfana 1:38 University Of Johannesburg Choir The Road Home Other
  • I Wish 4:12 Stevie Wonder Songs In The Key Of Life [Disc 1] R&B
  • If 1:58 Dominic Miller Second Nature New Age
  • Malaika 2:50 University Of Johannesburg Choir The Road Home Other
  • Ndandihleni 2:45 University Of Johannesburg Choir The Road Home Other
  • Ndisondela Kuwe 2:31 University Of Johannesburg Choir The Road Home Other
  • Oh Happy Day 3:52 University Of Johannesburg Choir The Road Home Other
  • Over the Rainbow (Instrumental – Combo Group) 5:08 – This one I used so I could sing along to baby!
  • Sega 3:11 Ry Cooder & Ali Farka TourÈ Talking Timbuktu Traditional
  • Signed, Sealed, Delivered I’m Yours 2:40 Stevie Wonder Stevie Wonder: The Definitive Collection R&B/Soul
  • A Soulful Hallelujah 5:27 Montreal Jubilation Gospel Choir I’ll Take You There Christian & Gospel
  • That’s Where It’s At 2:38 Sam Cooke Portrait Of A Legend 1951-1964 R&B
  • When You Come Back Down 3:50 Nickel Creek Nickel Creek Country
  • Where Or When 2:19 Shepheard’s Hotel Jazz Orchestra English Patient Soundtrack
  • With My Own Two Hands 3:00 Jack Johnson Feat. Ben Harper Sing-A-Longs & Lullabies For The Film Curious George Childrenís Music
  • You Are Not Alone 3:57 Mavis Staples You Are Not Alone – Single R&B/Soul

Baby Labor Playlist – Let’s get serious. Dancing and cooing over baby is fun, but labor and delivery is an ultra-marathon-like endurance event. Music for L&D as its called in the medical world, better call up some serious concentration and self-confidence. A “you-can-do” attitude is what this playlist needs. In some births, I used more affirmative music and in some, I preferred calming, surrender-type music native to my Cherokee origin. Here are some of the tunes I used in the past:

  • Agnus Dei (Adagio for Strings) 9:31 Trinity College Choir, Cambridge Barber’s Adagio Classical
  • Cadoc’s Blessing 6:22 Johnson, Jeff & Brian Dunning Byzantium World
  • Sea Wolves 3:22 Johnson, Jeff & Brian Dunning Byzantium World
  • Over Kells 3:20 Johnson, Jeff & Brian Dunning Byzantium World
  • Theng 4:53 Johnson, Jeff & Brian Dunning Byzantium World
  • Byzantium (Golden City) 6:48 Johnson, Jeff & Brian Dunning Byzantium World
  • Eagle Dream 2:29 Johnson, Jeff & Brian Dunning Byzantium World
  • Caliph’s Mines 4:26 Johnson, Jeff & Brian Dunning Byzantium World
  • Kazimain’s Gift 5:01 Johnson, Jeff & Brian Dunning Byzantium World
  • Eleison 4:48 Johnson, Jeff & Brian Dunning Byzantium World
  • Vows 10:53 Johnson, Jeff & Brian Dunning Byzantium World
  • Agnus Dei (Adagio for Strings) 9:31 Trinity College Choir, Cambridge Barber’s Adagio Classical
  • Her Sacred Spirit Soars 5:08 Stephen Layton; Polyphony Cloudburst and Other Choral Works Classical
  • Spirit Wind 3:58 Dean Evenson & Cha-Das-Ska-Dum Native Healing Native American
  • Elysium 2:42 Hans Zimmer & Lisa Gerrard Gladiator Soundtrack
  • Honor Him 1:20 Hans Zimmer & Lisa Gerrard Gladiator Soundtrack
  • Now We Are Free 4:14 Hans Zimmer & Lisa Gerrard Gladiator Soundtrack
  • Still Water 3:10 Lifescapes Meditations: Native American Flute Native American
  • Home Wind 6:37 Lifescapes Meditations: Native American Flute Native American
  • In The Glory Of The Sunset 4:48 Lifescapes Meditations: Native American Flute Native American
  • Laughing Water 4:51 Lifescapes Meditations: Native American Flute Native American
  • Land Of Ghosts And Shadows 6:08 Lifescapes Meditations: Native American Flute Native American
  • Blessed Islands 4:15 Lifescapes Meditations: Native American Flute Native American
  • Whispering Forest 6:07 Lifescapes Meditations: Native American Flute Native American
  • Dream Flight 6:35 Lifescapes Meditations: Native American Flute Native American
  • Purple Mists Of Evening 4:40 Lifescapes Meditations: Native American Flute Native American
  • Fire Before The Doorway 6:52 Lifescapes Meditations: Native American Flute Native American
  • Morning Peace 3:43 Lifescapes Meditations: Native American Flute Native American
  • Summer Storm 3:53 Lifescapes Meditations: Native American Flute Native American
  • Deus Anim Rorem (Instrumental) 2:56 Rosa Lamoreaux, soprano/Hesperus Luminous Spirit – Chants Of Hildegard von Bingen Religious
  • Vos Flores Rosarum – (Responsory) 5:50 Rosa Lamoreaux, soprano/Hesperus Luminous Spirit – Chants Of Hildegard von Bingen Religious

I also made a “Giving Thanks for Baby” playlist and a “Baby Rest” playlist. Stay tuned to future blogs where I will share those with you!  Best of luck on your journey to motherhood and the amazing and wonderful experience of birth.

Sources

  • Using Music During Childbirth
  • Di Franco, J (1988). Relaxation: Music. In F.H. Nichols and S. Smith Humenick, Childbirth education practice, research, and theory (pp.201-215). Philadelphia: W.B. Saunders.
  • Wiand (1997). Relaxation levels achieved by Lamaze-trained pregnant women listening to music and ocean sound tapes. Journal of Perinatal Education 6(4), 1-8.