If you’re preparing for labour, you’ve likely got a thousand and one things on your mind: Book a pedicure and wax pre-water breaking; Pack that chic headband so I can keep hair off my face while I’m pushing… Well, we’ve got another item for your list: Have you selected the tunes you’ll be listening to in the delivery room? It may seems like a not-so-necessary luxury compared to all of your other to-dos, but there’s good reason to pack your iPod into your delivery bag.
How music helps your health
Distraction is a known pain reliever. Just think back to times you were hurt or broken-hearted — the more you sat around thinking about it, the more depressed and in pain you likely felt. And, concomitantly, if you packed your sked with fun things to do, you likely felt better, sooner.
A new study in The Journal of Pain has concluded that listening to music is one of the most effective ways to distract you from any painful situation — including physical pain like the kind you’re likely to experience during labour. Researchers claim music helps to shut down the part of your central nervous system that generates pain sensations — like anxiety, stress, panic and fear.
Another study in the U.K.-based Journal of Advanced Nursing found that simply listening to music can reduce pain by up to 21 per cent and depression by up to 25 per cent. It can also help you handle unexpected and upsetting situations with greater ease than you normally would (say, for example, if you had prepared for a natural delivery, but are forced to have a C-section instead).
Does the kind of music you listen to matter?
The research is still divided on this one. There are plenty of scientists who believe in the so-called Mozart effect, which suggests listening to certain — mostly classical — forms of music increases focus and promotes relaxation. Proponents of this theory believe listening to tunes by someone like Amadeus increases one’s ability to problem-solve (which could come in handy if you run into any bumps along your labour route).
That said, a study from the University of Illinois found listening to any form of music — classical, jazz, hip-hop, rap, pop — will increase your mental capacity and keep you calmer than if you opted to forgo tunes altogether. The key is that you enjoy what you’re listening to.
Which means, when coming up with your personal pregnancy playlist, anything goes. Stick to the tunes that make you happy and calm, or the ones you rock out to on a regular basis. You’ll be more likely to focus on the music instead of the pain you’re feeling, and experience a more relaxed labour as a result.