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.

You didn’t miss it did you? Live with Mama Tribe Network.

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I went LIVE with Mama Tribe Network on December 3rd!  You didn’t miss it did you?

You’re in luck!  You can watch it here on YouTube.

MJ from Allthingscrunchy.com and OG Mamacita out of San Diego both said they learned a ton.  I had a bunch of fun helping them both understand more about the power of music.
We talked about music for birth, creating playlists, bonding and learning through music.  MJ shared some of her own birth experiences and OG Mamacita’s jaw just kept dropping in awe.  Really.   I could tell she was really digging what we were talking about and was eager to try some of the tips for using music with her whole family!  It was a blast mamas.  Thanks for adding me to your Tribe.
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A special shout out to my friend Tina Carreras owner of VFIT San Diego for hooking us up!  Tina has an awesome 10 minute circuit video on YouTube that most busy moms and birth workers (ahem, doulas!) can fit in anywhere, anytime!
So check out the LIVE with Mama Tribe Network show and let me know what you think. Also, make sure you enter our RAFFLE before December 9th for your chance to win a FREE consult with me, Kate Taylor, owner of Creative Childbirth Concepts®.  As a music therapist and birth doula, I’d love to help you build a plan for birth or assist you in your birth based business and development needs.  Take a chance and enter today.


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Childbirth Education Re-created: An exciting new workshop for pregnancy and birth.

Join Kate Taylor, experienced birth doula and board certified music therapist as she presents the first ever Creative Childbirth Concepts®  intensive workshop in the beautiful downtown Crystal Lake Muse Art studio.

September 1st, 2015 6:30-9:00 p.m.

Open to anyone preparing to give birth, their partners or birth team members.  No previous artistic ability is required.


Come,  learn comfort measures for birth and create:  It's Your Birth. Be Creative.

  • a visual birth plan
  • birth mandala
  • meaningful nursery art piece

Experience first hand the relaxation and inspiration of coloring, painting, movement and music during this exciting childbirth workshop.   This 2.5 hour workshop will help you to begin exploring new ways of understanding your pregnancy, birth and parenting journey and offer you countless resources for pregnancy, birth and beyond.

Resources include:

I look forward to hearing from you and serving your growing family! Kate.

I look forward to hearing from you and serving your growing family! Kate.

Many couples have benefited from working directly with Kate Taylor and her unique concepts for bringing creative arts experiences into childbirth education and prep classes.  Their stories and testimonials share a glimpse into how meaningful this creative arts workshop will be for you and your birth team.  Read their stories at: http://www.birthmusic.net/testimonials.html

This is your chance to work with Kate Taylor in an exciting new creative space and small group setting so that you too can tell your creative childbirth story.  There are only 6 spots open for couples wishing to be inspired through creative arts, music for birthing and mentored with expert doula advice.  Register today at http://www.birthmusic.net/register-for-classes-or-workshops.html

It’s your Birth.  Be Creative.

Cost for couples to attend is $125.00.   Contact Kate for individual rates or fees to invite another birth team member like a hired doula to attend.  mymusictherapist@gmail.com.  Visit:  www.birthmusic.net for more info. 


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Music for pregnancy & birth: 4 tips from Board Certified Music Therapist, Kate Taylor.

When childbirth is viewed as a holistic experience, music becomes one of the best resources to reach the diverse needs involved: physical, neurological, spiritual, emotional, social, environmental, interpersonal, even transcendental.  Music for birth is just.so.awesome.   Here are a few tips you can use when considering how to use music for during pregnancy, labor and beyond: Continue reading


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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”?

 


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Add some MUSIC to your birth bag.

If I had to name just one thing that made my daily life as a music therapist easier it would have to be music, of course.  Music is a resource that can enhance most experiences, particularly childbirth.    As leaders in health care, music therapists have demonstrated how accessible and enriching music can be for improving quality of life, rehabilitation and healing.  As a doula  and music therapist, I’m entrusted to bring the music to the birth environment.   So every time my phone beeps or buzzes in the middle of the night, I make sure my bluetooth wireless speaker is charged, packed and ready to help deliver the most precious cargo in my birth bag….the music.  

First let me say, music for birth can come in many forms.  I use my voice, my body, and at times various instruments through live musical interactions whenever appropriate, which can be often.  Yet, most times during the labor and delivery stage, music enters the space as pre-recorded playlists.  To deliver this experience I rely on a few important pieces of equipment.  As a music therapist, the days of lugging around a giant case book of CDs, and a boombox bungee corded to my instrument cart are over.  Music is more portable and higher quality than ever before.   I use my mobile phone/ipod or tablet and streaming or downloaded music to organize and execute the applications of music.  But without a speaker, much quality and application may be lost.   So for the birth worker, music therapists and parents out there who may be seriously considering adding music to your birth plan, I’ll share a few specifics about the speaker I’ve had the most success with and a few reasons why it may be a useful tool for you to shape your birthing experience.

Currently I’m digging the portability and look of my SoundFreq Sound Kick speaker.

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It has just the right balance between size and sound and is an excellent travel speaker with charging capabilities, aux and USB ports.  The website boasts 7 hours of charge time but honestly I’ve used it for nearly 10 without having to recharge.  I do notice the bass sound to diminish a bit as the battery life is low.  Usually I carry a USB led charge pack with me and as soon as that is connected, the sound quality seems to return to normal until I can fully charge again.

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The Sound Kick is designed with two 2.3 inch custom drivers and a XKICK™ chamber that pulls out of the back and supports the speaker.  The expansion of this rear compartment at first glance appears to be a kickstand yet it serves a more important function to enhance the lower-frequency sound giving it a much fuller range than other portable speakers.

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I recently saw the Bose Sound Link Mini in action at a outdoor party and was impressed with it’s ability to cut through the party volume.  However it seemed to almost challenge conversation at times.  I think I might explore it due to it’s extremely compact size.  Yet, I hesitate that speakers of notable brand and portable mini size “disappear” more easily from the unit or birth place if left unattended.  I tried for years to love the Sony SRSBTX300/BLK Bluetooth Wireless Speaker.  But alas, I had to leave the relationship. The kickstand kept falling when on the hospital tray would wheel and it would turn off the speaker.  The Sony bluetooth reception was spotty resulting in interruptions like a skipped CD and the weight is rather heavy for a birth bag.  Doulas, as you know, every ounce counts when packing a bag to use while hauling a birth ball in tow.  The size of the SoundFreaq Soundkick really is convenient and it’s weight is ideal.

Music Therapists, you’ll also love how light and compact the Soundfreaq speaker is.  IMAG2798_20150515101039483

I’ve always been able to discreetly set it up on the window ledge or bedside table at birthing centers.  I have even slipped the speaker and ipod into the pocket of a dad’s scrub attire as they headed into an emergency c section birth (with his permission of course).  I love the variety of reactions I get when I pull out the speaker in prenatal visits too.  In fact, one time during a prenatal education class, I pulled out the speaker, popped up the sound chamber a husband reacted with wide eyes and nervously asked, “what is that?!”  He admitted he was scared it was a contraction stimulator and that I was planning to hook him up to it for childbirth education class.   (Apparently, he’d watched too many youtube videos).  Needless to say, he was relieved when the speaker started playing his wife’s favorite Latin tunes, instead of stimulating contractions on his abdomen.

Often when I set up the speaker, I get some oohs and ahhhs as well.  Not just because of the speaker’s quality of sound, but it’s unique in aesthetics.  You see, I have branded my business with two colors: a bright fresh green grass color and a soothing teal/aqua.  Conveniently for me, the speaker comes in these amazing chromatic colors called Ocean (seen here), Sunset and Twilight.  Nurses have come to recognize my speaker in the birth rooms and associate it the effects of the music therapy assisted childbirth.   It just so happens that colors also affect our mood, memory and help with identity branding.  So browse the variety of colors and styles offered by SoundFreaq speakers and see what fits your brand and the mood you wish to create in your birth place.

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So whether you’re a music therapist, a doula or a couple preparing for birth, you can add music to your birth bag or tool kit with a small portable bluetooth speaker like the Soundfreaq Soundkick and a mobile device that streams music. Please consider that you may need some additional support in executing or implementing the most effective application of music in the birth environment.  Certainly, you, your partner or your clients will be able to help assess some good musical choices.  Ideally your preference is key to music being supportive and relaxing for you or doula clients.  But with the collaborative guidance of a well trained and experienced music therapist, your ability to apply music effectively and your confidence in using music for birth will greatly be enhanced.  Stay tuned for several more posts in response to Serenade Design’s Music Therapy Blogger Challenge and more in an upcoming series on creative resources for childbirth.  Kate

Learn more about Kate Taylor, MA, MT-BC Birth Doula at www.birthmusic.net

Or contact Kate at mymusictherapist@gmail.com