The Soundtrack of my Birth - My Natural Labor Playlist and How Music Helped Me Cope
How Music Helped Me Get Through Labor
by former client, Lola Watson
I’ve always loved music. How it can take you back to a special memory. The soundtrack to Runaway Bride takes me back to growing up when I would listen to my walkman and make up dances on my back porch. I still can’t listen to Somebody to Love without choking up. (It was the song I walked down the aisle to at my wedding.) Other songs remind me of awesome concerts I went to with friends. Music can also help get you through hard times. As a former college DJ I knew I needed a killer playlist during the Big Event coming up.
We named it Cats and Candles after a phrase our childbirth educator used during class a lot. “And if you’re having a home birth, with your cats and candles around you…” she would say. *mental eye roll*
Back to the playlist. I knew I did NOT want any Enya or any low key mood music in the background. Labor was going to be work and I would rather rock my way through it then try to zen to the end. The song that most takes me to my happy place is 3’s and 7’s by Queens of the Stone Age. It was so fun putting together the playlist. As I listened to songs little bit would move in my belly. I knew which his picks were! As he grew his activity had lessened but when I was putting together the labor playlist, boy was he active!
My husband and I picked songs that meant a lot to us. Songs that made us happy or that we listened to a lot that summer during the pregnancy.
There was something that seemed significant about sharing our favorite songs together while bringing a new member to the family. I put lots of songs that pumped me up and some slower songs too. Every good DJ knows you need high and low points in a playlist for maximum effect.
When early labor started the contractions were strong but not regular yet. Mandy told me to try to get some sleep but I was SO pumped. Also laying down wasn’t very comfortable with how often I was running to the bathroom so the hubby set me up in the arm chair with lots of blankets and my headphones. He slept on the couch so I didn’t have to yell if I needed his help getting out of the chair.
When a contraction was coming on I knew because little bit would move around a little. So I’d start the song. There was something really fascinating about how the song and the contraction would build together. Then as it faded I would hit pause and queue up the next song. Try to shut my eyes in between. I quickly found that contractions were easier to deal with when I moved my hips to the music. Some of the songs took on weird new meaning while preparing to birth a baby. Under Pressure? Yeah my cervix was under some pressure. She Wolf? Check. The heavy breathing parts went perfectly with my labor breathing. And it’s the perfect rump shaking song. I could tell when things finally started to get regular because of the music actually.
Morning finally dawned and things had taken on a more regular rhythm so we called the midwife again. The rest of the house woke up as she arrived (my parents were already here for Christmas) and I worked on getting this baby O-U-T, out! By the afternoon things hadn’t been progressing quite like they seemed, so Mandy shook me with a homemade bed-sheet rebozo during contractions. This ramped things back up and my husband held me while I labored. We listened to some of the slower jams together. Sharing the headphones like lovesick fools. There was something about listening to songs that were special to us and meaningful to our relationship that made me feel like we were bringing our baby into the world with love. To keep progress moving Mandy broke my water and that when things really took off. I was riding a freight train after that so the playlist didn’t get much more use.
But I do frequently play these for our little guy and a lot of the slower songs ended up on our naptime playlist. They’ll always be special now and remind me of the unending support my husband gave me during labor. The hard but satisfying work and getting out our baby. I love the memories music can carry and now I have some more hallmarks to add to the playlist of life.
If you want to see the whole thing here it is on Spotify: