If you are pregnant, you have probably been given a zillion instructions. Everyone you know suddenly becomes an expert on what to eat, how to sit, how to walk, etc. You yourself may be reading up as much as possible to know more about what to do and what to avoid. While you may pay attention to your dietary and sleep habits, you may miss out an important aspect—what to listen?
Do you know that by 23-27 weeks, your baby starts hearing sounds from outside the womb? It is believed that unborn babies can hear sounds from outside the womb and the sounds are loud, similar to a train running through a subway. So, it is important to monitor what you say aloud and hear since it may have some effect on the baby. In particular, much has been written about the effect of music on the development of fetuses.
Benefits of Music in Pregnancy
Music is known to help relieve anxiety in pregnant women. In addition, music has been shown to positively influence bodily characteristics such as heart rate, breathing, learning and brain development of fetuses. These effects of music are brought about by changes in the hormone and enzyme activity of the mother. Listening to certain types of classical music within the womb improves the fetal behavior, and this effect is carried forward even after birth, into infancy. Western classical music has been shown to have a beneficial effect on the brain development of fetuses. In fact, this phenomenon has been called the “Mozart effect.” Although some scientists question the value of this effect, there continues to be new evidence supporting the immediate as well as long-term benefits of fetal exposure to various types of classical music.
Music therapy has been used in the management of several conditions such as developmental disorders in children, as well as pain and anxiety in adults. In fact, investigators continue to study the effect of different types of music and identify the types of music that may be suitable to treat various disorders. Exposure to music in the early period soon after birth, in the NICU, is also used to improve the behavior of babies after birth, especially those babies who are born early (preterm).
With the growing evidence that supports the benefits of exposure to music within the womb, attempts have been made to produce music especially to help promote the growth of fetuses. In fact, several such resources are now commercially available. It is advisable for parents to choose music according to their preferences, rather than what is latest in the market. The mother should choose the kind of music that she herself finds relaxing and soothing, and listen to it along with the baby. Making the time to sit back, relax, and listen to some good music with your baby will not only be beneficial to you and your baby but also help you bond with your baby more closely. Singing to the baby would be an even more beneficial experience for both mother and child.