Music Therapy Assisted Childbirth

What is Music Therapy Assisted Childbirth?


Music Therapy Assisted Childbirth is:

A labor support method designed by a board-certified music therapist that uses very specific, carefully designed music programs during labor and birth. This use of music, in addition to the support of the music therapist, helps to promote a birth experience that is calm, safe and supportive for parents and baby.

Although there have been advancements in anesthesia for labor and delivery in recent years, many couples today choose to have a natural childbirth experience. It has been substantiated by research that birth outcomes for mother and baby can be greatly enhanced through the natural childbirth process. Many free-standing and hospital-based family birthing centers are popping up around the country to meet this growing need. Several nonpharmacological interventions are available to laboring mothers including: hypnosis, biofeedback, touch and massage, hydrotherapy, acupuncture, and transcutaneous electric nerve stimulation. Another successful discomfort management technique being explored is the application of prepared music programs during Music Therapy Assisted Childbirth.

In the early 1980s, Music Therapists began to explore the use of “audioanalgesia” (sound for discomfort relief) in the music therapy process in working with labor and delivery patients. Music therapists assist patients in the clinical application of music in suppressing the discomfort response, but can also work with patients in deeper psychological and emotional ways. The process of “music therapy” differs from “music medicine” based on the establishment of a relationship between therapist and patient. Music therapists specifically design and develop unique treatments for each patient based on the patient’s need and condition.

A Music Therapy Assisted Childbirth program is conducted by a board-certified music therapist, and consists of a series of sessions usually offered in the last trimester of pregnancy. Some music therapists also provide labor and delivery support for the couple during the birth and post-natal visits. Couples are taught how to use music to support their physical and emotional needs throughout the stages of labor and delivery. The music therapist assists the couple in selecting and applying a specially chosen music program to calm, comfort, block discomfort, and focus breathing for each mother. The music therapist may also provide instruction in imagery and relaxation techniques, movement training, singing of lullabies and womb songs, and other creative arts experiences. (A womb song is a special song that is written for the baby while in utero.) Familiar music can help comfort the mother during the birth experience and practice with the music before the birth is essential. This therapy has been found to significantly decrease the mother’s anxiety and discomfort responses, decrease the need for analgesic medications during birth, and has contributed to overall positive feelings about the birth process.

 

*DiCamillo, M. (1999). A bio-psycho-social model of music therapy assisted childbirth: an integrative approach to working with families. Doctoral Dissertation, Pepperdine University

*DiCamillo, M. (2000). Music therapy assisted childbirth: a case study of an emergency high-risk pre-term delivery due to pregnancy-induced-hypertension. International Music Society for Prenatal Development Review, 12, 2, 8-13.


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