Music and Childbirth

How music eases your labor and decreases labor pain

By Michelle Montgomery Muth, MT-BC June 27, 2014

Using music during childbirth is one way of reducing anxiety and stress during the birthing process. But, how do you choose the music that will best fit the many stages of childbirth? From relaxation, to intense rhythm, to a birthing song, how will you know what will best meet your needs and when to use it? A simple search on the internet will provide you with the "best childbirth songs EVER" and extensive playlists of music to use during childbirth. However, the internet cannot coach you while you are giving birth. It doesn’t tell you that you need to practice with the music — similar to how you might practice breathing techniques for childbirth — before you begin the childbirth process. Your playlist must have music that supports you so that you can listen to it:

  • as you relax
  • during intense labor
  • during your need to push at the different transition points
  • as you welcome your new baby

Your personal taste is important, but having someone who is knowledgeable about the therapeutic characteristics of music and how music can be used effectively in childbirth, as well as your taste in music, is what you really need. That is where Music Therapy-Assisted Childbirth comes in to play.

What is Music Therapy-Assisted Childbirth?
Music Therapy Assisted Childbirth (MTACB) is an evidence-based service provided by a Board-Certified Music Therapist (MT-BC). The music therapist partners with the birthing family to provide music, support, information and education during the pre-natal period, labor, birthing, and the immediate post-partum experience. MTACB has been shown to increase states of relaxation in the birthing process (pre, during and post), thus decreasing the mother’s anxiety and stress. MTACB also serves as an effective pain management tool, reducing the need for pain medication during the childbirth process. Additional benefits include contributing to the overall positive feelings about the birth process and bonding the birthing family with medical staff and caregivers.

What Should I Expect from MTACB and the Music Therapist?
Typically sessions are offered in the last trimester of pregnancy. The music therapist will visit the birth mother and partner prior to birth, attend the birth, and support the mother, partner, and child through the immediate post-partum period. The music therapist will:

  • provide support for the couple during the birth
  • teach how to use music to support a couple’s physical and emotional needs
  • assist in selecting and applying a custom music program
  • provide instruction in imagery, relaxation techniques, movement training, and singing of lullabies and womb songs, etc.

Women who have received music therapy-assisted childbirth have shown a reduction in pre-birth stress and anxiety and a more positive interaction between mother and child in the postnatal period. Music Therapy-Assisted Childbirth emphasizes adequate emotional preparation, patient and infant relaxation/stimulation through frequency and length of practice at home. The program integrates compatible, researched methods and strategies, as well as new methodology regarding breathing techniques and music.

The act of giving birth is one of beauty and exhaustion. There are moments of relaxation, and there are times of focus for your breathing, times of waiting, moments of possible frustration at apparent "slow" progress, and times of transition through different and very intense stages of labor, which all lead to the appearance of your little one and your first meeting outside the womb. It can be a marathon or a sprint that covers the gamut of emotions. Why not make a music therapist, trained in MTACB, part of the group of birthing professionals assisting with your childbirth? Your own personal "music" coach can create a joyful, less-stressful bonding experience for all involved as you welcome your new baby into the world.

Resources on Music Therapy-Assisted Childbirth

  • Sound Birthing Music. This is a leading provider of continuing education for birth professionals. In addition to intensive workshops for music therapists in MTACB, courses are offered for birth professionals (doulas, midwives, childbirth educators and other birth professionals) on how music can be used to support breathing and effectively manage discomfort during the labor process.
  • American Music Therapy Association – Personal Stories. Music Therapy-Assisted Childbirth Helps Moms (and Coaches) Through Labor by Mary DiCamillo, Ed.D, MT-BC
Michelle Montgomery Muth is a board-certified music therapist (MT-BC) and music educator with advanced certification in Neurologic Music Therapy. Michelle is passionate about music and music therapy. She works with her clients focusing on the whole person and the ability of music to affect change and promote wellness in their lives. She is owner of M3 Music Therapy ( and provider of Sprouting Melodies®, an early childhood music and movement program.