Listening to Music during Pregnancy

Listening to Music during Pregnancy

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There is no doubt that music is a mood enhancer. Listening to your favourite music whenever you are feeling down is sure to lift up your spirits a good deal. But what about babies in the womb? It has long been believed that unborn babies can indeed hear things like the sounds of fluid in the womb and the pulsing of their mother’s heart. It is widely believed that by the second trimester, the baby can also hear external sounds such as the mother’s voice, music, and other loud noises.





Does Listening to Music Affect Foetal Development?

Research has been ongoing to determine if playing pregnancy music for baby has an effect on foetal development. Some studies state that the foetus reacts on hearing sounds, but the difficulties in observing an unborn baby have made it hard to come up with conclusive proof. A study published in the Public Library of Science (PLoS) does indicate that babies familiarize themselves with external sounds while in the womb. It claims that babies who heard a particular song while in the womb appeared to calm down when they heard the same song after birth.

When Can an Unborn Baby Hear Music?

It is believed that unborn babies can hear music in the second trimester, but they start responding to noises and sounds only in the third trimester. The formation of baby’s ears begins as early as nine weeks of pregnancy. By eighteen weeks, babies start hearing, and their sensitivity to sound starts improving each day from this point onwards. When you are about 25 to 26 weeks pregnant, your baby is likely to start responding to external noises and sounds. By the third trimester, your baby will be so familiar with your voice that he or she recognizes it immediately.




Does Listening to Music Make an Unborn Baby Smarter?

There are two schools of thought on this, with one side claiming that babies who listen to music in the womb turn out smarter than their peers while the other states that this is not so. Though there is no study or report to prove that listening to music when in the womb makes babies smarter, it is recommended to play music for your unborn baby. Brain development may or may not happen, but this will certainly encourage your little one to develop a liking for music early on.

How to Play Music for Unborn Child?

The best way to play music for your unborn baby is to connect your audio device to some speakers while you do your chores. Using headphones on your belly might result in over stimulating the baby since the music would be too close and loud. Amniotic fluid does not muffle the sound, contrary to popular belief. So, if you must use headphones, ensure that you do it only for a short while each day.





Playing music for unborn child

Benefits of Listening Music While Pregnant

Despite the lack of concrete evidence to support the benefits of playing music during pregnancy, there can be no doubt that music is uplifting and serves to cheer you up every time. The positive vibes thus created will be passed on to your baby also. Here are some other possible benefits of listening to music during pregnancy:

  1. Hones auditory senses: Music will appear to be rhythmic sound waves to your baby. The baby concentrates on these, and this stimulates cognitive skills and auditory senses while improving reflexes.
  2. Promotes personality development: It is believed that the type of music you listen to during pregnancy can help formulate the personality of your child as he or she grows up. Thus, soothing music might encourage a calm and quiet demeanour while loud music might bring aggressive traits to the fore.
  3. Eases stress: Music relaxes you and calms you when stressed or anxious. This, in turn, soothes and calms your baby too. It is thus an effective way of dealing with stress during pregnancy.                                                                                                                                                                                                               Music Eases stress                                                       
  4. After birth lullaby: Researchers believe that the familiarity with a particular tune or music stays with the baby after birth and it might come in handy when trying to calm your child.

How Much Music Should You Make Your Unborn Baby Listen?

As with everything else, too much is not good when it comes to music for pregnant women. When using headphones to enjoy your favourite music, make sure you do not use them for more than one or two hours each day. And if you like placing your headphones on your belly, then be sure to do it only for five to ten minutes at a time and not for more than an hour or so across the day. If playing music on a speaker, you can do it throughout the day at a normal volume and not on high. It is important to remember that your baby needs to sleep and rest at regular intervals. So, by playing too much music, you might be causing an interruption in your unborn child’s sleep patterns.




Should You Listen to Only Soft Music?

Experts say that simple tunes are ideal to play to your baby. But as long as you like something and enjoy it, it is suitable to play to your unborn baby. The type of music you play will depend on your mood at a particular time. You can also play pop numbers if you like that type of music as these have a particular rhythm and pattern which makes it easier for babies to recognize and recall. It is thought that the baby’s breathing pattern changes in accordance with the beats and sounds that it hears. So, loud or jarring music genres might not be suitable for your baby except for a very short duration as it can lead to unwanted stress.

At any time you find yourself at a loss for good tunes, check out the popular music websites where you will find playlists compiled exclusively for pregnancy.





Can You Listen to Classical Music?

The classical genre is not just soothing music for pregnancy, but it is also thought to have certain complexities which prompt the brain to solve spatial problems much faster. Thus, listening to classical music is thought to have more advantages for the brain than other types of music. A study carried out on the impact of Indian classical music on pregnant women indicated that there was a positive impact of the music on both the mother and the unborn child. It was found to have improved the baby’s reflexes and responses as also mental faculties while having a calming effect on the mother. Thus, it is evident that it cannot hurt to listen to classical music at a normal volume while pregnant.

How Do You Know If the Music is Too Loud?

Anything over 80 decibels is likely to be too loud, such as the sound of a ringing phone or a toilet flush. If playing music for a long time, it is best to keep the volume around 60 decibels. Unborn babies can get startled by loud noises, and you will feel your baby jerk inside the womb when this happens. An occasional loud noise or a rock concert will not do any harm to your baby. But consistent exposure to music louder than 70 decibels can have an adverse impact on the baby and you. It can cause you to develop hypertension while it may slow down your baby’s motor skills and learning skills.




Sound Level to Keep in Mind

Using headphones on your belly can make it very loud for your baby. You should aim to keep the volume of external sounds in the 50-60 decibel range. This would be the decibel level of a regular conversation taking place. It is important to adhere to these volume levels because there are many noises reaching the womb, such as your heartbeats, the gurgling of your tummy, and the sounds of respiration. Loud music or noise on isolated occasions is fine but ensure that it does not happen on a regular basis when pregnant.

Mozart Effect Music

There is a theory which holds that listening to music by Amadeus Mozart can have a positive effect on intelligence even before birth as it increases neuron pathways in the brain. This theory was pioneered in the 1990s by Frances Rauscher and some other contemporary scientists. It postulates that those who hear Classical Era and Baroque music in the womb go on to be more musically-inclined as they grow up.





Tips For Your Baby’s Musical Nourishment

Irrespective of whether or not music helps increase your baby’s IQ levels, you can always create a musical environment for your unborn baby.

  1. Choose soothing music: Relaxing with some soothing music is good for both you and the baby. Keep the volume low and avoid loud music that can do more harm than good.
  2. Sing or hum: Make it a point to sing or hum to your baby frequently. You do not have to be a great singer to do this. Just hearing your voice will relax and calm the baby.
  3. Get the family to join in: Ask your partner and other members of the family also to talk and sing to the baby regularly. Their voices will sound familiar to your baby after birth.                                                                                                                         Husband talking or singing to baby                              
  4. Mix up music styles: Expose your child to different styles of music to make it an eclectic mix – from reggae to salsa to classical.

Remember that pregnancy is the time when you get to exclusively bond with your baby. After birth, there will be the entire family and relatives or friends wanting to know your baby. It will also be difficult for you to spend some truly quiet musical time with your baby. So, make the best use of the opportunity while it lasts. The key is moderation, and by listening to music you love for short periods of time throughout the day, you can ensure your well-being as well as that of your child.




Disclaimer: 

This information is just a guide and not a substitute for medical advice from a qualified professional.