Music in Prenatal, Infant and Pediatric Care

Music has also been found to relax the labor process, easing pain during delivery. "The Journal of the American Medical Association reported that in a study of expectant mothers, those who listened to music during childbirth did not require anesthetic. Listening to music releases endorphins and this decreases the need for medication. It also provides a distraction from pain and relieves anxiety." 1 "The fetus prefers Mozart and Vivaldi to other composers. When pregnant mothers listened to Mozart and Vivaldi, the baby's heart rates invariably steadied, and kicking declined." 2

"A project led by a researcher from the University of Western Sydney has found that music therapy can help sick babies in intensive care maintain normal behavioral development, making them less irritable, upset and less likely to cry. Dr Stephen Malloch, a Research Fellow at the University's MARCS Auditory Laboratories at Bankstown Campus, says one of the aims of this three-year project, which was carried out in collaboration with the Royal Children's Hospital in Melbourne, was to see what impact music therapy had on infants in intensive care. Infant neuropsychologist Dr Carol Newnham performed a behavioral development test twice on each infant, about a month apart. "We found that music therapy supported the infants' behavior - these infants maintained the same levels of irritability and crying that they had at admission," says Dr Malloch. Meanwhile, those babies in the Neonatal Unit who did not have music therapy deteriorated in their irritability and crying behavior - coping less with their hospitalization as time went on."

"It's likely the babies who received music therapy used up less energy when compared with the babies who did not receive the therapy. If a baby is less irritable and cries less, this has implications for rate of healing and weight gain, two significant factors which contribute to the length of a hospital stay."

These research findings were reported at the World Congress on Music Therapy held in Brisbane last year, and will be published in an international music therapy journal this year. 3

A study conducted in a newborn intensive-care unit found that playing lullabies with a heartbeat can be so beneficial to premature infants that they are discharged as much as two weeks earlier than babies who aren't serenaded. Taped sounds from within the womb combined with song also significantly increased oxygen saturation in premature infants, according to researchers at Georgia Baptist Medical Center. 4

Dr. Johann Lowey specializes in treating children by practicing music therapy in the pediatric ward at Beth Israel Hospital in New York . She points out that pediatric pain is often under-treated. Children are very sensitive to anesthetics, and doctors want to avoid administering overdoses so they are often conservative in the amount of anesthesia they give. Children also experience a mixture of fear, pain, and other powerful emotions in a hospital setting.

"I observed Dr. Lowey doing music therapy for a boy who was getting a spinal tap. She played her guitar, she sang to him, she improvised lyrics to help him understand what was going on and to help him understand he was in good hands and he would be okay. I think the music reassured him in ways that merely speaking might not have accomplished. An important point - rather than use the music to distract him, she used the music to ground him into the moment, and to empower him to be a participant. They used no drugs during the procedure. The music was the anesthetic. The boy was so comfortable, he fell asleep during the operation." 5

"Sing and Hum Bumblebee, You can overcome anything"

Written by Maya

1 The Mozart Effect, Don Campbell (review)
2 The Healing Power of Sound, Music as Medicine, Simon Heather.
3 'Music Therapy Helps Sick Babies',
4 'Sound Healing: Can you Drum your way to Better Health? Sing your way to Serenity? Tune up your Immunity with a Tuning Fork? Science takes a Surprising Look at the Restorative Powers of Chant, Rhythm and Music', Jill Neimark. Natural Health Magazine. March 2004
5 Thoughts and Observations on Music Therapy, Stanley Jordan,



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