That is a question I get asked pretty often when I tell people that I am a music therapist and doula, and that I specialize in Music Therapy Assisted Childbirth. “Wow! That sounds awesome! But what is that? And what exactly do you do?” Well, allow me to explain.
The short version: I educate and empower expecting parents to use music to support them physically and emotionally throughout labor and delivery. I introduce them to a wide variety of different recorded music that has been specially chosen and compiled to promote comfort, calm, and decrease anxiety. I attend their birth as their doula, and fill two roles. First, as their birth doula: providing unconditional support, help with relaxation techniques, massage, position suggestions, and continuous encouragement. Second, as a music therapist trained in Music Therapy Assisted Childbirth: continuously assessing the environment and their progress in labor, and playing music that will encourage relaxation, connection, and deep inner calm.
To go a little more in-depth, here is the full definition of Music Therapy Assisted Childbirth written by Mary DiCamillo, a board-certified music therapist and founder of the Music Therapy Assisted Childbirth program:
“A Music Therapy Assisted Childbirth program is conducted by a board-certified music therapist, and consists of a series of sessions usually offered in the last trimester of pregnancy. Some music therapists also provide labor and delivery support for the couple during the birth and postnatal visits. Couples are taught how to use music to support their physical and emotional needs throughout the stages of labor and delivery. The music therapist assists the couple in selecting and applying a special chosen music program to calm, comfort, block discomfort, and focus breathing for each mother. The music therapist may also provide instruction in imagery and relaxation techniques, movement training, singing lullabies and womb songs, and other creative arts experiences (a womb song is a special song that is written for the baby while in utero). Familiar music can help comfort the mother during the birth experience and practice with the music before the birth is essential. This therapy has been found to significantly decrease the mother’s anxiety and discomfort responses, decrease the need for analgesic medications during birth, and has contributed to overall positive feelings about the birth process.”