Creative Childbirth Concepts

Music Therapy Assisted Childbirth. Doula Services. It's Your Birth. Be Creative


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Streaming music instead of screaming for birth.

0001(2)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 mymusictherapist@gmail.com!

Kate Taylor, MA, MT-BC

 

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Professional doula seeking supervision: serious inquires only.

I’d love to see a series of “want ads” like this. Personal ads placed by professional doulas who are serious about their business of being a doula, aware of the depth of their work, seeking structured and professional supervision.   Why would a doula need supervision?

Just this week, a question came across a very popular doula forum about “debriefing” or “venting” with other doulas about traumatic or difficult birth scenarios.  Let’s be honest, as doulas we are creating a market revolution of supportive, continuous, compassionate care in very savvy and innovative ways. And this is great because it means more and more families will experience what professional doulas have to offer. More and more care providers will start to see the benefits.  More and more demand for us. Which means more births to attend, more systems to navigate, more paper work, more placentas to encapsulate…

Anyone’s palms sweating yet?!

Deep focused Breathing. Feel your breath flow in and out. You’ve prepared for this surge in business. You’ve been trained, perhaps certified to handle the stages of labor and provide support throughout. You’ve honed your skills in touch and talk, bearing witness and reflective listening. You’ve advanced your business skills, done your market analysis and now you can warm chat the hell out of anyone. You know your ideal client. You’re booking 4 births a month and earning a living as a doula, doing your own taxes…Wait, my palms are sweating again.

Breathe.

Some doulas may head into this level of “busi-ness” with eager anticipation only to get knocked back a bit when suddenly the births they’ve been so well trained to attend start to wear us down.  Perhaps start to take over emotions a bit.  It may start as a reflection of how beautiful a birth was, or how strong that mother was.  Perhaps something happened that was different than what was “expected” and as a doula you witness something that hits hard.  Maybe you witness a mother experience an unwanted intervention or a difficult transition and suddenly, you find yourself remembering it all.the.time.   Feelings surface.  Lots of BIG FEELINGS SURFACE.

Now, I’m not saying all your feelings are negative or even as deep as a trigger for your own trauma.  No, not all. But some maybe.  Even just one emotion that still lingers as you read this.   What if just that one feeling  impacts you at your next birth?  What if you have a hard time staying “present” because that one feeling is still part of your thoughts?
The simple act of being present, especially in birth, impacts us, in that moment in time and in our future way of living.  I experienced these impacts early in my career.  First, I experienced it as a heart aching compassion for the parents of the children living with autistic spectrum diagnosis.   Next, by the penetrating grief of working with hospice families facing the deaths of their loved ones.  Currently, what I experience is a mix of oxytocin rush,  the dynamics of my own relationships and the ever present push to grow my birth business for world doula domination!   (Ok, maybe just big enough to pay all my bills and give back a little.)  Really, I’m a whole mess of emotions most of the time, so in some ways WE may not be that different from one another.  One difference I do see is that I can attest, from personal and professional experience, my doula friends, is that you should consider that you need more than just a “place to vent about a birth” or “someone to decompress with.”  You should consider for the sake of sustainablity as a professional doula that you too may need some skilled support.   I did.  After years of trying to bear it all myself, and process it all myself, hanging out with other doulas venting over Venti Mochas I realized,

I needed ongoing, structured and creative supervision in order to best fulfill my role as a birth worker. 

For me, the answer to my unspoken “want ad” for serious support came in the form of a colleague asking me to participate in peer supervision.  After my first two hour online peer supervision session everything felt lighter.  I felt more connected, creative and aware.  My movement felt fluid, my work more manageable.  My motivation had returned.  My work had more purpose.  

We recently published some of the results in the New Jersey Association of Music Therapy’s first ever online journal Music Therapy Clinician.  Since then, I have not looked back, never been busier or felt more balanced.    The road to maintaining that balance and achieving wellness as a birth worker feels less bumpy now and I see a few more “fueling” stations along horizon then before.  I know I can always turn to supervision for a hospitable respite, re-framing or a recharge before heading back down “Doula Road.”

This is why I offer structured, supportive supervision for doulas and other birth workers, music therapists and even consultations for parents seeking balance and mental wellness.  I believe there is a need for confidential and competent supervision in the childbirth profession.  I can relate to what you’re experiencing.  I can offer you an assessment to help you determine what you may be experiencing.  I can listen.  I can reflect.  I can try to understand and I can try to help you understand.  I can offer you unique and creative ways of processing what you witness as a birth worker, what you need as a professional and where you’re headed in life as a doula.  As a MT-BC, I adhere to a scope of practice and function under a code of ethics both of which consider the confidentiality of anyone I’m working with with the utmost importance and respect.  Therefore, what you process with me, stays with me.  What I offer is supervision, not socialization.  So while I may be sipping a venti mocha while we engage in your supervision and the caring I offer feels like a trusted friend, I am not a friend.  I’m a professional supervisor and you will be safe to share any and all reactions you have, judgements you make or feelings that surface from all aspects of your birthing business.

Please contact me, Kate Taylor, MA, MTBC at mymusictherapist@gmail.com  or visit www.birthmusic.net for more information.   Online group services for pre and perinatal music therapists are now available through the exclusive PPMT Supervision Group co-sponsored with Interlude Perinatal Support Services.

Email ppmtsupervision@gmail.com for more information about joining our next online series.


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Last week I was challenged by Julie over at Serenade Designs to consider my favorite quote and write about what it means to me.  I didn’t even have to think for more than a second before I pushed back my office chair, rolled across the floor to my bookcase and grabbed the small hand drum that contains my favorite quote.   This small hand drum has been in my grasp since the 1995 World Congress of Music Therapy held in Washington D.C.   On the hand drum is printed a quote from Dr. John Diamond the founder of the Institute for Music and Health which reads:

One day, well into the future,

Music will at last become

the Great Therapy.

And the drums of this present age

will then be acknowledged

as the first instruments

that helped Music

to ultimately fulfill

It’s long-anticipated promise.

Now, I’m not sure about you, but I see the words “music” and ” the Great Therapy” and I get pretty excited.  What’s more exciting is that since 1995 we have gained a much broader awareness and in depth understanding of the applications of music as therapy across the entire spectrum of life.  Originally, the author states, “one day, well into the future.”  Well, 20 years the future is already upon us and we, as individual music therapists and collectively as a profession, are marching toward the light of day when this future is a reality.  Each of us marches to a beat that provides us passion toward this ultimate goal of helping the world better understand the power of music and it’s role in healing and wellness.  We hold a large part of the responsibility of bringing that beat back to the forefront of everyone’s awareness.

On his blog on music, John Diamond, M.D.  has some interesting things to say about his approaches that rely on the use of music and arts for wellness, healing, and life enhancement.   The goal of the enhancing well-being or holistic health in individuals and communities is one that music therapists may find beneficial to review within their own theoretical and philosophical approaches to music therapy.   I personally find this holistic approach very useful in my own resource oriented music therapy practice especially how I integrate all of the creative arts when working with a population that is primarily “well”.  See, at Creative Childbirth Concepts® pregnancy and birth are not viewed as illnesses to be treated, but rather are as a very normal and natural part of development for many people around the world.  In fact, childbirth is one of the most universal experiences across humanity.  For even if perhaps we never bear children ourselves, we were all at one time born.  So, I’m thrilled when I find resources that challenge my understanding of music as therapy or music as a tool to unlock creativity and support multiple dimensions of wellness like psychosocial, spiritual, physical and emotional.  When I was reviewing the information available on Dr. John Diamond for this blog post, I stumbled across one of his books that I can’t wait to explore (pictured here).   I’m constantly teaching about the role of voice and song during pregnancy and the benefits lullaby at the time of birth.  I was just asking the question to a peer supervisor recently about the clinical role of “love” and “motherly nurturing” in applications of lullabies.  I do hope the text Music and Song, Mother and Love will expand my understanding of music and song in the context of mothering and love so that I can apply new understandings into music therapy for childbirth.  I’ll have to post a review once I finish.

Book by John Diamond, M.D.

Book by John Diamond, M.D.

While the specific approaches at the Institute for Music and Health may not match everyone’s specific “definition” of music therapy, it is very important in the context of our discussions as music therapists that we are aware of how the holistic healing professions are using music.  This way, we can continue to aspire towards the day in the (not so distant) future, when music therapists will be the ones who help show the world at long last that music IS the great therapy.   These words remain a constant inspiration for me to learn, to integrate what others have learned, and to always be willing to redefine how music can be used therapeutically to support universal experiences like childbirth.  So now you know how this quote inspires me as a music therapist.  How does this quote inspire YOU?  How can you help music fulfill it’s long anticipated promise to become the “Great Therapy”?

 

Music and a doula in the operating room can calm your c-section birth experience.

Music in the operating room and a doula by your side can make your c-section calmer, more memorable and family centered.  Although brief, this article mentions the importance of music in the operating room for creating a calm, relaxed and patient centered environment.  As a music therapist, I’ve witnessed the power of music during transformative moments like this. Imagine:  you are a first time mom, about to go into the OR for a c section.  You are anxious about surgery, what to expect as a parent.  You do not know what to expect.  However, you know that your partner is by your side.  You know that your doula is your family advocate.  You hear some music begin to play as you are wheeled into the operating room.  The music is familiar.  You know this music will support your emotions and physiology.  You have practiced relaxing to this playlist before.  You know what song is next.  You and your music therapist designed this playlist and used it to prepare for birth.  Music therapy was used to prepare for this exact moment when you become “mother.”    You breathe deep and the cello plays andante.    A new life enters the world.  His cries echo with the female voices chanting.  A drum beat mimics his beating heart.   

This moment, the music, the baby, the parents:  all bonded together.  I’ll be so bold to hope that through an expansion of family centered c-sections or gentle c-sections like the ones mentioned in the Fox News link here, that perhaps a new level of mindfulness may come to those staff involved in surgical births also.  A new level of awareness of environmental music therapy perhaps.  I believe in the power of music at the moment of birth, the prenatal experience that promotes bonding through creativity and using music therapy to process fears, address anxieties and embrace the transformative power of birth. 

For more information about music therapy for childbirth, creative arts birthing or doula services visit:    http://www.creativechildbirthconcepts.com


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Kate Taylor will be at the International Birth Psychology Conference this week!

AAAPAH Birth Psychology International Congress

As a master trainer in Sound Birthing Music methods, Kate will be presenting data on our most recent survey of the Creative Arts Birthing process. Stay tuned for photo updates and all the exciting new info!