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Listening to the right music during pregnancy

At Eden Private Staff we understand that expectant mothers will want to do everything in their power to support the development of their unborn child; from scheduling frequent check-ups with their family doctor to supplementing their diet with pre-natal vitamins. Consequently, if you have been investigating the various ways in which you can support your child’s physiological, intellectual and emotional development throughout your pregnancy then you may wish to consider listening to certain types of music. According to Dr Alexandra Lamont, a member of the Music Research Group at the University of Leicester;

“We know that the foetus in the womb is able to hear fully only 20 weeks after conception. Now we have discovered that babies can remember and prefer music that they heard before they were born over 12 months later”.

Subsequently, over the years many parents and scientific research panels have suggested that listening to certain genres of music during pregnancy can have a positive impact on both mother and child.

Therefore, if you are currently expecting a new addition to your family, and have been considering the ways in which you can support your baby’s development, our Eden Private Staff team have created the following guide which will help you to choose the right type of soothing music which can positively impact your baby’s mental and physiological advancement.

 The benefits of listening to music during pregnancy

Since the publication of a scientific paper by Frances Rauscher in 1993, which revealed that students who listened to Mozart seemed to show significant improvement in their intellectual capabilities, both the scientific community and parents across the globe have been intrigued by the link between listening to classical music and heightened intelligence. Often referred to as the “Mozart Effect”, many scientific research journals have suggested that listening to certain types of music can significantly benefit your mental well-being and the development of your child in the womb.

For instance, a separate study published in the Music Educators Journal which investigated the effect of exposure to music in the prenatal period revealed how;

“Some participants were given music in the womb, either sedating or stimulating musical selections. After the birth of the baby, the parents and infants visited the researcher, and a range of activities and responses were observed by researchers. The study found that exposure to music in the prenatal period seemed to be linked to increased attention, more sound imitation and earlier vocalization in the baby”.

In addition to this scientific study, many parents have independently advocated the benefits of playing music whilst the baby is prenatal. These parents noted how their babies seemed to react when certain music was played. Consequently, it has been suggested that playing music whilst pregnant can improve your baby’s hearing and motion capabilities as well as their brain functions and subsequent reaction times. After all, as Wilfried Gruhn, Professor of Music Education at the University of Music in Freiburg, once reported;

“Music stimulates the growth of brain structures and connects many activated brain areas. Learning is based on the plasticity of the brain, which is the most powerful in the early years; however, it keeps going over the entire life span. Brain development is basically determined by its genetic disposition, but its individual structure depends on use. The brain develops according to how we use it. All experiences are stored in the brain and influence its neural structure”.

In this manner, if babies listen to music as they develop within the womb then their brains will begin to learn how to receive, concentrate upon, and react to different sounds at a much earlier stage which could in turn lead to heightened intelligence once they are born.

As well as positively impacting your baby’s physiological development, it has been suggested that playing music during pregnancy can help to form some of your baby’s personality traits. It has been hypothesised that the ways in which babies respond to different types of music whilst in the womb can present itself once they are have been born. For instance, some mothers have stated that when they play music that they used to listen to whilst pregnant then their baby will calm down This familiarity and close association to being in the womb can lead to certain types of music serving as better lullabies for your child later in life if you played them whilst you were pregnant.

Consequently, although many of these theories have not yet been substantiated by definitive proof, both the scientific community and parents across the globe have strongly advocated that playing certain types of music can support your baby’s physical and sensory development throughout your first, second and third trimesters.

How to choose the right type of music

During your pregnancy your baby will be exposed to a wide range of sounds and sensory stimulants as you go about your daily life. However, as matters stand, the majority of scientific research carried out into the benefits of listening to music during pregnancy has suggested that the best type of music you can play for your unborn child are classical compositions which incorporate a wide range of repeated notes. As an article published in the Telegraph explains;

“The music most people call “classical”–works by composers such as Bach, Beethoven, or Mozart–is different from music such as rock and country. Classical music has a more complex musical structure. Babies as young as 3 months can pick out that structure and even recognize classical music selections they have heard before…Researchers think the complexity of classical music is what primes the brain to solve spatial problems more quickly. So listening to classical music may have different effects on the brain than listening to other types of music”.

Consequently, it has been strongly suggested that playing classical music can have a have a calming effect on your unborn baby due to the melodic, lullaby sound.

In this manner, both scientific researchers and parents also tend to agree that playing harsh, erratic music such as rap and heavy music can induce a negative response from babies within the womb. This is due to the fact that this type of loud, discordant music can startle your baby. Unlike the melodic sounds and lullaby effect of classical music, this harsh, discordant music can disrupt your baby’s peaceful state, elevate their blood pressure and have a negative impact on their mental well-being and physiological development. In fact, some studies which have been carried out on animals have even suggested these types of erratic music can negatively affect the brain development of the foetus.

However, that is not to say that classical music is the only type of music to which babies positively respond during pregnancy. In fact, many parents and scientific researchers alike have noted that unborn babies respond well to their mothers’ favourite music. As development psychologist Janet Di Pietro advocates;

“When a woman relaxes, that’s good for the foetus and that’s an indirect effect of music on the foetus”.

In this manner, it has been surmised that if the mother enjoys listening and singing along to certain types of music then their baby will form similar associations to these melodies within the womb and after birth. Consequently, in the same way that music can help you as a mother to relax, fall asleep or improve your mood, by playing soothing music during your pregnancy you can support your baby’s emotional and intellectual development.

Safety precautions for listening to music whilst pregnant

Regardless of the particular type of music to which you listen during your pregnancy, it is pivotal that you listen to these melodies in a manner which is safe for your baby. If your unborn baby is exposed to loud music for a prolonged period of time then this can have a detrimental effect on their hearing capabilities and stress levels.

As a rule, most pre-natal practitioners concur that you should avoid placing headphones directing on your belly when playing music for your child. Although it may seem that you require loud music or headphones in close contact to your womb in order for your baby to hear it, this type of close contact can overly stimulate your baby. As Janet Di Pietro states;

“People tend to turn up the sound because they think it needs to be loud to penetrate the abdomen…But amniotic fluid is actually a good conductor of sound.”

In realty, simply listening to music on your stereo throughout the day will be sufficient enough for your baby to hear and respond to music. Moreover, if you usually listen to music on a high volume then it is important that you reduce it to a lower decibel level during your pregnancy to avoid startling your baby. As a report published by the American Academy of Paediatrics showed;

“foetuses who were exposed to loud noises during a long time frame were more likely to have lower weights at birth and be born prematurely as well as an increased risk of having higher frequency hearing loss when born. Most of these studies involved the children of pregnant women who worked in areas with high noise which is different from exposing your child to music”.

Subsequently, if you listen to music throughout your pregnancy then you should endeavour for the volume never to exceed 65 decibels (dB). By listening to music below this decibel level your baby will be able to safely enjoy calming melodies. In this same manner, if you intend to listen to music for a prolonged period of time, such as over one hour, then you should consider reducing the volume level to below 50 decibels.

How Eden Private Staff can help

Fundamentally, if you are an expectant mother who would like to learn more about how to actively support your baby’s development throughout each stage of your pregnancy then you can receive targeted support and individually tailored guidance by consulting with an Eden Private Staff maternity nurse. Regardless of whether you are expecting your first child, or if you already have several children but would benefit from some personalised support and additional reassurance, we are here to help.

As matters stand, our Eden Private Staff search consultants collaborate with a vast networks of maternity nurses, nannies and consultants who have amassed over 25 years of experience within the childcare industry. The conscientious candidates within our maternity division have accrued a wealth of academic accreditations and have worked for many years within the childcare profession as maternity nurses, post-natal carers, maternity practitioners, day and night nurses, maternity nannies paediatric nurses, health visitors, midwives, nurses, nursery assistants and certified carers. Subsequently, you can rest assured that you and your unborn child’s needs will be accommodated for by a personable, dedicated and extensively qualified childcare professional.  Irrespective of whether you require temporary, part-time or full-time support during your first, second or third trimester, at Eden Private Staff our team of maternity nurses and nannies will be more than happy to support your family as you welcome a new arrival to your household!

January 5, 2016

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