Exploring Music's Complexities

Music for a Healthier Pregnancy

Pregnancy with Music

Kristin Padilla, RN, BSN, RNC


For most pregnant women, pregnancy is an exciting time filled with the anticipation of the upcoming delivery and holding their bundle of joy for the first time. The bond between a mother and her baby is both literal and figurative during pregnancy. It is essential that a pregnant mom-to-be does her very best to live the healthiest lifestyle possible because this has a profound effect on not only the ease of the pregnancy and decrease in complications such as gestational diabetes, but for the health and well-being of her baby, both in the womb and after birth.

In the Ob-Gyn office, emphasis is placed on teaching a woman how to keep her body as healthy as possible during pregnancy, such as getting regular exercise, no alcohol, taking prenatal vitamins and avoiding certain foods. This is extremely important but there is also the mind and spirit of a pregnant women that can be overlooked in traditional Ob-Gyn offices. The mind and spirit components of a women that make up the whole need to be nurtured during this time as well and contribute greatly to the health and well-being of both mother and baby.

Thankfully, in Western civilization we have begun to embrace alternative therapies (many of which have been used for hundreds of years in Eastern cultures) along with traditional medicine in our care. For example, many moms-to-be are using music therapy as a component of their care during pregnancy with very positive effects on the mother during the prenatal period and labor leading to positive outcomes with their babies.

Studies have shown that babies cannot only hear sound in the womb but this begins at a relatively early stage in the pregnancy. Any pregnant mother will tell you that babies will react with varying movement in reaction to different sounds. In a study at the Queen’s University of Belfast, Dr. Hepper and Shanidullah showed via ultrasound that babies as young as 19 weeks will respond with movement when presented with auditory stimuli. Several other studies have shown accelerations (increases) in fetal heart rates when presented with music, their mother’s voice and other noises. When music therapy is a part of holistic care of a pregnant woman, the baby responds and benefits as well.

Timeless Motion


Recognizing the bonding created and the benefits of “music, movement, poetry, and color” in the nurturing of mothers, babies and family during and after pregnancy, the Center for Prenatal and Perinatal Music, in Austin, Texas, was created and is run by Giselle E. Whitwell. She is a Board Certified Music Therapist, Birth Doula, Childbirth Educator and Prenatal Parenting Instructor. Ms. Whitwell states that the Center for Prenatal and Perinatal Music was “created in order to assist mothers, teenagers and couples in realizing their journey through pregnancy and birth in a holistic and supportive environment.” Several services are offered and tailored to the needs of the pregnant women and her family. These include individual prenatal music sessions, group sessions by trimester, couple or family sessions, even private home or hospital sessions. Music Therapy Assisted Childbirth and Sound Doula Support are services offered as well. In Music Therapy Assisted Childbirth, the goal is “aiding mothers in the attainment of a natural birth (most often free of drugs)” through creation and practice with a music program designed by the client and music therapist for use in the Labor and Delivery setting. In working with her clients, Ms. Whitwell has used Dr. Daniel Kobialka’s album “Velvet Dreams” as well as others to create the soothing sounds to assist women in their labor. The Sound Doula Support allows clients to receive continued labor support utilizing the music chosen previously along with the support of a Doula (a birth assistant that stays with the laboring mother throughout the labor and birth, as well as during the immediate postpartum period).


 photo courtesy of Giselle Whitwell

Giselle Whitwell notes many benefits of Prenatal and Perinatal Music Therapy such as stress relief, early bonding, support of emotional, spiritual, physical and mental well-being, “creating a transition from the baby’s inner environment of the womb to the outer world through lullabies and the womb-song” and individual preparation for labor and delivery. The many testimonials of mothers and couples that have had positive birthing experiences though music therapy speak for the positive effect that music can have in a positive birthing experience and bonding with a baby, both before and after delivery.

For more information, please visit the Center for Prenatal and Perinatal Music website at http://www.prenatalmusic.com.  For information regarding the music referenced  visit http://www.wonderofsound.com


Hepper P, Shahidullah B. Development of Fetal Hearing. Archives of Disease in Childhood. [serial online]. September 2, 1994; 71(2):F81-7. Available from: CINAHL Plus with Full Text, Ipswich, MA. Accessed March 4, 2010.

Whitwell G. Center for Prenatal and Perinatal Music. 2009. Available at: http://www.prenatalmusic.com. Accessed March 4, 2010.Note:

The Posts provided are for informational purposes only and are not intended to diagnose or treat any condition.

For more information, please visit the Center for Prenatal and Perinatal Music website at www.prenatalmusic.com.

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