Does Singing Help Labor Pain?

A recent NY Times article by Jessica Delfino made me smile. She describes her experience of singing during labor to help relieve labor pain. And for her, it seemed to have worked.


Music is a gift. It unifies, delights, and delivers. For centuries, women have been singing in churches, on plantations, Native American reservations, synagogues, African villages, and other public venues. Physicians play it in the operating room, and sometimes it is the last thing patients hear before receiving general anesthesia.


One of my most memorable deliveries occurred early in my career as an intern. A patient’s husband brought a dim lamp and a cassette player (yes, we’re talking old school) into his wife’s room. The mood was mellow.


 To my utter surprise and delight, the music of Anita Baker flowed from the speaker. He turned his wife’s labor experience into a romantic setting. Although the couple was Caucasian and I was Black, we all grooved to the same music.


On another occasion, I was on the Pidge Ridge Native American reservation in South Dakota, and the power of music emerged again. I took over a delivery from a midwife who assumed the patient would need a C/Section. Mom was having difficulty pushing. The grandfather was outside of her room, and every time he played his harmonica, the baby would start to move further down the birth canal. I asked the grandfather to continue playing the harmonica, and within the next 15 minutes, the baby emerged. No C/Section, but admittedly, I did have to use a vacuum extractor, and both mom and baby did well.

Delfino does an excellent job citing several scientific studies that tout the benefits of music during labor. Music distracts a mother from pain and reduces anxiety. Relax the mother, relax the baby. 


So, should a mother sing while in labor? Yes, absolutely. What better way for a baby to enter the world than to hear the beautiful voice of its mother. 


Check this out: Woman Sings While In Labor


And this: Couple Sing 'Push It' While Waiting For Birth



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