Singing in pregnancy has numerous benefits for you and your unborn baby. Most people realize that singing is good for our health. But did you know it can help reduce pain, increase your oxygen levels and give your unborn baby a relaxing ‘sound massage’. These are just a few of the benefits that I’ll tell you about.
Have you seen the special earphone music systems that are sold for Moms-to-be to wear on their belly to transmit music or languages or other sounds to their unborn baby? You do not need these expensive hi tech bits of equipment and maybe we should be questioning how safe or desirable they are. Your baby can hear and feel the vibration of your voice without the need for extra amplification.
Singing & Baby’s Hearing Before Birth
At first singing and other sounds are felt as a vibration by your baby. The amniotic fluid he or she is surrounded by is a great conductor of sound vibration. Imagine listening to music or people speaking when your ears or head are below water (e.g. in the bath, swimming pool or ocean).
Many scientific studies that have tried to investigate fetal response to sound generally give 18 - 20 weeks as the time babies begin to respond to sound. By that time the structure of the ear is complete, although development of auditory nerve pathways continue.
According to one study, a few babies can respond to loud low-pitched sounds as early as 16 -18 weeks of pregnancy. By 27 weeks, most babies can hear low-pitched sounds but not high pitched ones. The hearing continues to develop and be refined as your baby matures.
Giselle E Whitwell writes about prenatal hearing and sound in this article. It seems that early child development, especially speech development is greatly effected by hearing music and other sounds prenatally.
Many studies have also found that your baby will start to listen and learn (memorize) words, songs and sounds from approximately 23 weeks gestation onwards. So be mindful of what you're saying and what sounds your baby is being exposed to throughout pregnancy.
It’s not only the sounds heard while in the uterus (womb) that are thought to be learnt by your unborn baby. It’s believed they remember tastes and flavors too, as your pregnancy diet flavors the amniotic fluid your baby is surrounded by in pregnancy.
From early on in your pregnancy your baby’s hearing has developed sufficiently to hear sounds outside the womb. All the way through pregnancy your baby will hear your heart beating, your intestines gurgling and you talking. When he or she is born they’ll recognize your voice first and foremost. Followed by the voice of his or her Dad, or whoever has been with you the most during pregnancy.
I've also heard of babies recognizing the noise of the family dog or other pets after they are born.
Following on in this theme, whatever music you listen to regularly or TV program that you watch routinely… your baby will recognize and visibly relax (or kick like mad if he doesn't like it!) when you put on this tune or music. Keep this in mind for when you’re trying to settle your baby and nothing seems to be working! Here are some of the baby-benefits of singing in pregnancy:
* Connects you and your baby in a special way.
* Calms and relaxes your baby.
* Gives baby a ‘sound massage’ which I imagine is very pleasant.
* Increases oxygen flow to baby.
* Sends lots of endorphins to baby via placenta.
* Helps speech development.
* Reduces your chance of catching minor infections, thus protecting your baby too.
MIDWIVE’S TIP: I would always recommend that parents-to-be make a recording of their favorite music or TV theme tune during pregnancy. You can then either make it into a Baby Lullabies CD, tape or mp3 for when the baby has arrived. This is an invaluable tool for ‘soothing emergencies’ when you don’t feel like singing. Make sure you add plenty of lullabies and classical music too.
There have been many research studies done on the benefits of singing. In pregnancy you will enjoy those benefits and more. Professor Graham Welch, Chairman of Music Education at the University of London, UK has been studying the positive effects of singing.
Research has found that Singing:
1. Improves your mood and gives you energy by raising Endorphin levels.
2. Is an effective way to reduce tension and stress.
3. Improves sleep. 4. Has pain-relieving effects due to the Endorphins.
5. Improves your posture.
6. Is a good immunity booster.
7. Increases your lung capacity and therefore your oxygen levels.
sinuses and respiratory tubes.
9. Increases your confidence.
10. Improves your memory and concentration.
11. Singing tones your facial muscles and abdominal muscles.
If you have suffered with prenatal depression in previous pregnancies and are concerned about it happening again, try to get into a routine of singing whenever you have a chance. Consider joining a Choir or Prenatal Singing class in your area. Read more about your
Emotions during pregnancy.
Many of us think that we can’t sing or that we are tone deaf. But this simply is a negative thought pattern that can be changed. Our vocal cords and larynx (voice box) are just like muscles that need exercising. The more we sing or use our voice, the better we become.
Try singing in the shower or as you drive or walk somewhere on your own. Gradually you feel able to sing when others are around. Singing in pregnancy is one of your first gifts to your unborn child. The benefits of this gift will last a lifetime.
See if there are any classes in your area that cover singing in pregnancy or prenatal singing. Most of these classes would provide the following or similar:
· Relaxation and deep breathing exercises
· Simple vocal exercises and chants
· Overtone chanting
· Group Improvisation
· Traditional pregnancy exercises
· Songs and lullabies from around the world
An easy exercise to start with if you don’t have much confidence is this:
Just sound out the vowels A, E, I, O, U….making them sound for as long as you can: eeeeeeeeeee, oooooooooooo, uuuuuuuuuuuuu, aaaaaaaaaaa. Then play around with the sounds and have fun. Then try some lullabies or nursery rhymes.
Singing in pregnancy is a fun, relaxing thing to do. I hope you enjoy singing and re-learning nursery rhymes from your childhood in preparation for your baby's arrival.
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