10 Benefits of Using Music During Labor

by Lilah Pittman, MA, MT-BC

Music seems to accompany many aspects of life. It’s used for celebration, to pass the time, to increase communal bonding, to entertain, and for countless other uses.

But did you know that music can be used to support the birthing person and baby during labor and birth? It’s true! Research has shown that using music during labor can be helpful in a variety of ways.

Here are ten benefits of using music during labor and birth.

1. Music can reduce pain.

Using music during your labor can help reduce your perception of pain through a concept called “The Gate Control Theory of Pain.” Basically, this means that by using music as a stimulus, your body begins to perceive other stimuli less– including pain.

Additionally, music can help with relaxation, which also aids in pain reduction.

2. Music can distract and help pass the time.

Labor can last a long time. Using music can help pass this time, especially during early labor. What’s even better about using music is that you can customize the music you listen to to suit your needs.

Want to listen to feel empowered? Listen to some positive, empowering music!

Want to connect with your partner? Dance with them along to some slow songs!

Using music can help early and active labor seem to fly by!

3. Music can help regulate breathing.

Breathing can become unregulated whenever stress or pain are experienced, which could in turn heighten the feelings of both of these things. Taking deep, regular breaths can help to calm oneself during stressful times. Using music to support one’s breathing gives a tangible support for one to measure their breaths to.

By matching breaths to musical phrases, audio cues for inhaling and exhaling provide strong reinforcements for regulated breaths. 

4. Music can improve the ability to manage stress.

Similarly to how music can help minimize pain, music can reduce stress by giving you something to focus on outside of the stressful situation. By focusing on the music (such as the words to a favorite song) one begins to shift their concentration away from the stressful stimulus.

Additionally, listening to music has the ability to calm an individual, which can lower heart rate and blood pressure.

5. Music can influence your hormones.

Hormones play a huge role in birth! They are essentially what gets the ball rolling during labor. Music during labor has been shown to increase oxytocin and beta-endorphins which helps with moving labor forward and with pain management.

It has also been shown to decrease hormones called catecholamines, which are hormones that could actually slow labor down when elevated. Who wouldn’t want a quicker,  more comfortable labor experience?

6. Music can influence emotions and provide emotional support.

Have you ever listened to a piece of music and felt your emotions change to match the music’s emotions? This effect can be so beneficial for use during labor and birth. Whenever labor might be more difficult, you can play some empowering music.

If you are excited about the baby’s impending arrival during early labor, you can play music that will support these emotions of excitement. This is just a little of what music can do for your emotional support during labor!

7. Music can help you create an intentional mood to your birth environment.

Music can have such an impact on the environment around you. It can become the soundtrack to your birth. With music, you can influence your birth environment to become relaxed, meditative, reverent. You can even give it a positive emotional charge!

Additionally, if you plan to have a hospital birth, playing music will help drown out some of the routine hospital sounds.

8. Music offers you more control over your birth environment.

If you plan to have a hospital birth, sometimes things might become chaotic with people coming in and out of the room or parts of your birth plan not going the way you had hoped and planned. These situations could even arise outside of hospital births.

Rather than feeling you have no control or power over your labor and birth at these moments, being able to control the music and mood of the environment can help to empower you to ensure you remain an active participant in YOUR labor and birth.

9. Music can help reinforce your memories of the birth.

Have you ever listened to a song that brought you back to a specific memory or period in time? This phenomenon can be applied to your labor and birth. Perhaps you choose specific music for when the baby is being born and in the moments following when you are holding your baby.

When you listen to this music again at a later date, you might get to re-experience the powerful memories, feelings, and emotions associated with the birth and the music.

10. Music can help promote bonding with your baby or birth partner.

Lullabies or love songs can encourage closeness with your partner or baby. As stated earlier, music increased oxytocin, which produces positive feelings. These feelings help with bonding. Additionally, music can become the backdrop for activities such as slow dancing with your partner during early labor.

As a bonus, if you or your birth partner sing to the baby in the womb, the baby will recognize your voice later! You can use this to further promote bonding during and after the Golden Hour.

Want to know more about using music during labor?

Heart and Harmony has multiple board-certified music therapists trained in the Soundbirthing Method of Music Therapy. We offer both Music Therapy Assisted Childbirth for parents who want live support from a music therapist during the birth, as well as Birth Music Consultation for parents interested in using music to support labor but do not plan to have a music therapist attend the birth.

Lilah Pittman, MA, MT-BC

Music Therapist – Board Certified

lilah@heartandharmony.com