If this is your first pregnancy and you wonder why so many mums spend time listening to or playing music to their unborn babies, science has an answer for you: it actually works! A groundbreaking 2011 study published in the journal Psychological Science found that as a foetus grows, it constantly receives messages in the womb from the mother. It hears her heartbeat, hears the music she puts close to her belly, and receives chemical signs about the mother’s mental state through the placenta. Music can lift the mood, boost communication, and enhance concentration—which is why it plays an important role in many types of therapy.
Keep Stress Levels Down with Music
Listening to or playing soothing music reduces stress, anxiety, and depression. One study published in the Journal of Clinical Nursing showed that music had this effect on a group of pregnant women. In the study, 116 pregnant women were divided into two groups: a music and a control group. Those in the music group showed much greater improvement in their mental state. The researchers stated that music therapy had great value and that healthcare professionals should keep this in mind when treating pregnant women.
You Don’t Need to Be a Pro
If you want to play music to your baby in a way that enhances their ability to hear it, a good idea is to use a digital keyboard and computer to record your special songs for your baby. You don’t need to be skilled at the piano to create or play simple compositions. There are so many online resources teaching beginners to play the piano, electronic keyboard, and indeed any instrument that tickles your fancy. When checking out courses, choose those with a repertoire of relaxing music. Research has shown that some of the most soothing sounds can be found in the music of the composers Pachelbel and Vivaldi.
Benefiting Your Baby’s Brain
Playing music to your belly can do more than put your baby in a relaxed mood. It can also encourage early brain development. Music fosters neuronal connections in the brain, increasing brain plasticity. Studies have shown that musicians have improved word memory and more complex neural brain patterning. They also boast improved organisational and higher-order executive functioning (i.e. reasoning and problem solving). Simply listening to music can benefit you and your baby in many ways but to enhance these benefits, try to take a more active role and play music as well. Doing so will challenge your brain since it will involve all your brain regions—including the auditory, visual, sensory, motor, and other areas. Playing an instrument is one of the most complex things human beings can do but also one of the most rewarding.
If you are pregnant and you have always turned to music as a hobby or a way to relax, make sure you continue to listen to and play music throughout your pregnancy. Doing so will benefit you by helping you relax and by providing a fun, challenging activity for your brain. Music will also benefit your baby, who is in tune with your state of mind at all times. Music also encourages brain development, making it a handy tool to rely on during your pregnancy and beyond.
ABOUT OUR CONTRIBUTOR:
Sara is now a freelance writer who pens pieces on parenting, and lifestyle but prior to this she worked as an holistic therapist and took a keen interest in diet and fitness. She lives with her partner and their daughter and a menagerie of pets