Yesterday my feed was BLOWING up with links to the news that Spotify streaming music service had scientifically designed a birthing playlist. Yes, that’s right a playlist designed specifically to accompany women through childbirth by New York City-based OB-GYN Dr. Jacques Moritz. The Huffington Post, Time.com and even YahooSports picked up the story.
This may be a new concept for some, but not for me. I’ve built my entire music therapy practice around using music, including streaming playlists, for the whole spectrum of pre and perinatal experiences especially, fertility, pregnancy education, labor, delivery and postpartum healing. But Spotify already knew that I’m sure. My profile is mymusictherapist and nearly 80% of my private playlists have birth related titles.
While I appreciate that Spotify is reaching out to OBs to curate playlists that reflect the birthing experience, I know, as does Dr. Mortiz that every experience is different. This is why assessment of preference and familiarity is so important. What if I played Pearl Jam’s Just Breathe at someone’s birth when if fact maybe that mom related that song to the last breaths of her loved one that died the year that song came out? You never know, unless the birthing family chooses that song and desires to use it in their birth. Again, it seems Spotify is just making the suggestions based on some sound advice:
- There IS a place in labor for slow and mellow music as well as music with a strong tempo.
- There ARE many reasons to use music with lyrics that make a women feel beautiful and connected to her birthing partner (Hello, oxytocin!).
- Instrumental music IS often a preferred selection for relaxation and bonding, so it too has it’s place in a birth plan.
- There IS a place for comforting and familiar music that puts mom at ease from the fear and hard work of labor.
- There IS a science behind how music impacts the birthing mother’s limbic system (and more!)
- Music can in fact be a wonderful distraction from the noises of some birthing environments (including the screams of other mothers who may not be coping as well or forgot to get a Spotify profile before their water broke.)
But, music for birth is more than that too. Read a few of the testimonials from my birthing clients and you’ll see. Their birth plans involved much more than just streaming music to drown out their screaming. Rather, the music was an integral part to their therapeutic prenatal preparation. Their music playlists were magical in how they connected them as a team, shaped their environment and created lifelong memories as a soundtrack to their birth. The music helped heal their past birth experiences. The music helped them anticipate their fears and anxiety and work through them by supporting imagery and reflection. The music was “theirs” and the music was therapeutic. It CHANGED their births.
This playlist announcement is kind of exciting to me as a birth expert and board certified music therapist. Why? Dr. Mortiz told the media that he sees nearly 70% of birthing families design a playlist of music during birth and spotify claims there are over 90,000 existing user playlists for pushing stages of labor. While there may be music therapists concerned about telling Spotify or Dr. Mortiz how to better do their jobs, I’m sure they did their best with the knowledge (and more likely the algorithms) they had. I’m more motivated to let the public know, there is more out there about the intentional and powerful use of music for birth!
If 70% of birthing moms really embraced the therapeutic power of music with a trained guide who can help customize, personalize and navigate with them through the birthing experience, I’m going need a few more full time employees!
If the concepts behind the Spotify birthing playlist intrigue you, than having music designed especially for YOUR birth experience with YOUR musical preferences will really blow your mind. Email me or contact me through my website www.birthmusic.net for a free consultation for birth music and music therapy assisted childbirth. Tell Spotify, “Thanks for the head start” but keep on birthing and rock it in your own way. This is just the beginning. I can’t wait to hear more birth playlists from anyone who wants to make one. After all, It’s your Birth. Be Creative.
Hey Spotify, you can email me too firstname.lastname@example.org!
Kate Taylor, MA, MT-BC