Editors Note: This post is brought to you by Brie Kellett. You will be seeing several guest posts throughout the next month as I adjust to life with a toddler and a newborn and get settled in our new home.
I remember a critical point in the labor of my first child. I was exhausted. I hadn’t slept in 35 hours and was so undereducated for the birth I had dreamed of. My midwife walked into my labor room and asked “Where’s the worship music?” – I spouted to her “I hate music!” Which was a little extreme, I don’t hate music. However, I did not understand it could have had the power to transform my thinking and possibly make a difference in how I labored.
Fast forward 4 ½ years, I’m laboring once again – my whole life has changed. We have been anticipating the birth of this child for years, and as a childbirth educator and doula I had been preparing for her birth since I took my first class 3 ½ years earlier. Months before her birth I had been taking note of different songs; their meaning, the tempo, the sound of the singer’s voice, the words and how they made me feel. My husband and I had practiced hours of relaxation to these songs, weeding out ones we didn’t like, adding in new ones we liked. So when I was in the middle of a contraction and I heard Kari Jobe belt out:
So loving and so true
So powerful in all you do”
My heart was right there, beating along with the words – remembering how faithful God is, how he brought us here, how he saw us through every struggle; every painful and difficult step of the way. And as the contraction rose – I heard:
“I know that you are for me
I know that you are for me
I know that you will never
Forsake me in my weaknesses”
My heart was comforted, encouraged. I knew that my team did not just consist of earthly people, but that He was right there with me – pulling me through.
Music can move the soul.
The songs on my playlist carried me through a near perfect labor. I was strengthened, encouraged and motivated to continue through till the end.
My midwife told me she once walked into a labor room that felt like a jazz café. The smooth music calmed and soothed the mother. In my childbirth classes, I play a CD with a compilation of water sounds; from waves to rain drops. I recently had a client who liked it so much she borrowed it for her labor. They had it on repeat for over 6 hours. However, another client was so irritated by the same music that we had several relaxation sessions in silence so she could really relax.
Everyone chooses different music, and that is o.k.
When choosing music you want to pick songs with a tempo of 60-90 bpm. What does that even mean, you ask? Slow, gentle music – something you can sway to. If your music tempo is too fast you’ll feel like you can’t keep up and it may force your breathing to be irregular and out of sync with your natural rhythm. If your music is too slow you’ll find yourself pausing, waiting for the music to allow you to move on. Neither will help your labor.
During early labor your music will provide a good distraction to keep your mind busy, instead of focusing on each contraction. When you are in active labor, your music can give you a good focal point something to keep you moving through the contractions; not mentally stuck at the peak. The music can bring motivation throughout transition when you want to give up and be done. And then, when it is finally time for your baby to be born, the music she has grown accustomed to hearing will be playing softly while she is welcomed into the world. Even during a cesarean, playing your music will help you relax and make your delivery more family centered.
The best music relaxes your muscles, clears your mind of negative thought and leads you to a peaceful place. It allows you to move in ways that feel good and release your body to do the good hard work of opening up to birth your baby.
My advice when choosing your music is to put together a playlist early on in your pregnancy. Then, when you have time, play your music and practice relaxing while in different labor positions. If you find that some of your choices don’t work, remove them – if you don’t like them now, you most likely won’t like them later. Make your list an ongoing one; you can add to it or remove at will. When baby day comes your body will know just what to do when the music plays.
Brie is a Certified Childbirth Educator and DONA Certified Birth Doula. She volunteers as a Childbirth Educator at a local pregnancy center and also serves on the board of her local birth coalition educating women and improving birth in her area. She has been married to her very supportive husband, Aaron, for 9 years and spends most of her days at home with her two beautiful daughters, ages 5 & 1.