Monday, January 3, 2011

Playlist for childbirth

Well. Happy 2011, everyone. 2011 is also known around these parts as The Year of the Baby. And also, January is known as the Month of the Baby. (Unless he is so late that I have to be induced, which could theoretically happen as late as February 1. And while I would like to avoid being induced if at all possible, at least if he comes in February his birthstone will be an amethyst, am I right?)

Anyway! It's my Due Month, and in fact my due date is just over two weeks away, and that means that at some point in the next few weeks, there will be, you know, a baby here in our house. But before he can come to our house in his car seat, he'll have to get out of my uterus. As in, I have to, you know, give birth.

I actually feel somewhat prepared for this. We did a Bradley class, which was immensely helpful for both of us. I am hoping to have a natural, unmedicated birth, but am also keeping in mind that a lot of what will happen during the birth is well beyond anyone's control, and that the important thing is to adapt to the situation and make the best possible decisions for our individual circumstances. Assuming there are no unexpected complications, there will be a birthing tub involved. Torsten and the midwife (and the nurses) will be the only other people there. I know I'm probably insane, and I understand that this will be one of the most intense and challenging experiences of my life, but I am actually excited about giving birth. Like, I'm looking forward not just to finally meeting Piglet (though that too, believe me), but to the actual process of labor. Really, I am.

We've written a birth plan and shared it with our midwives, who are totally on board with it and say that it is quite feasible and attainable. We've packed the hospital bag. The nursery is done (and photos are forthcoming! I promise). So now we're on to the small details. Like the music. And that's where you come in.

I do not have particularly sophisticated or in-depth musical taste, even just for, you know, listening in the car. We do have a subscription to Rhapsody, and that is usable in the hospital, which means that we will have access to almost any music you can think of, giving us lots of flexibility in case I take violently against something and demand to hear something else that I have never listened to before in my life. I also know that perhaps I will hate the music and insist that it be shut off entirely.

But assuming that I don't hate the music, I have no idea what kind of music I will actually want to hear. I want to put together a playlist, or maybe multiple playlists? Like a more energetic one and a more soothing one? I don't even know. Having never given birth, I have no idea what kind of music is best suited to labor.

Of course, I assume that the answer to that question is that it depends very much on the individual, but I still want to benefit from your collective knowledge. So tell me, what did you want during labor, music- and atmosphere-wise? Did you want music at all? What kind? Any specific artists or songs? Was there anything you just couldn't stand? If you put together a playlist in advance, did it end up being what you wanted to hear in the middle of it all? Should we bother making a playlist, or more than one? And if so, what should we put on it (them)?


  1. I didn't put together a playlist, and I *think* that that was probably ok. There were people to talk to and the olympics were on TV, so we watched that if anything (although I didn't do much watching because I was concentrating on getting through the contractions). I will say that toward the end they still had the Olympics on and people were watching that while I was getting ready to push and I made them turn it off; I wanted people to focus on helping me, not be distracted by whatever was going on on the TV.
    If I had had music on, I think I would have wanted something soothing and that was just in the background.

  2. I put together a mix of songs for my BFF when she had her daughter. It wound up being 4 cds worth of music and it varied from rocking stuff to very soothing and quiet stuff. CD1 was the loudest -- CD 4 was the quietest and it progressed through the 4. She still says it was one of the best parts of her birth experience.

  3. I think music is a powerful tool in the labor room for making the room "yours." When you are playing music in your room, every person that enters that room (midwives, dr's, nurses, other staff) are immediately immersed into the tone that YOU want to set.

    That said, I didn't care AT ALL what was playing, nor do I remember what was playing. We did play music, because we did want control over that aspect of our environment, but what it was? No clue. Though my musical tastes are not very sophisticated, either, so it was probably just a bunch of Indigo Girls with some Enya thrown in.

  4. I brought an iPod with music I thought I would want to listen to on it. Songs ranged from some of my favorites to mostly music I found soothing. I attempted to listen to three different songs, but it just wasn't what I wanted during late labor and transition (when I tried to listen to music). In my mid labor, I did watch some TV, in between talking to nurses, while I rocked in a rocking chair.

  5. OMG you must be getting so excited. you have been talking about this for YEARS. I hope the day goes well and the birth is quick ... and I hope you're awake and aware the whole time. LOL

    Welcome 2011 and Baby Jess/Tort!

  6. I didn't do music, so I'm no help there. (I watched "Say Yes to the Dress" during my last labor. haha)

    I do want to say, though, that I was SCARED out of my MIND for labor/delivery with child #1, and although it was challenging (each time), labor has ended up being one of my favorite parts of the pregnancy/parenthood experience - believe it or not!

    I look back at it fondly and with a great sense of accomplishment. (And I had 4 different experiences, but each one was special.) So excited for you guys!

  7. Squee! Baby! Soon!

    Here's what I remember about music playlists in our case:

    Case #1, nine and a half years ago: we brought Bach's cello sonatas. I'm pretty sure they never came out of the bag. I can't remember now if that was because I made a choice not to have music or (more likely) I got distracted and forgot.

    Case #2, 6 years ago: my main focus at this birthing event was to try not to be in the position of having to pack the new baby in order to go to the hospital. In other words, she came fast. We neither brought nor missed music.

  8. I don't think you're insane for being excited about giving birth. It was certainly one of the hardest things I've done, but also definitively one of the best. It's an awesome experience.

    I didn't do a playlist, so I don't have great suggestions; we took Seinfeld DVDs to watch, actually. LOL. However, I always cry at that episode of "Everybody Loves Raymond" where they tell the story about playing "Here Comes the Sun" when their daughter was born... oh, there are the chills again! So I'd use that one.

    I think a variety would work best, though, because my mood changed a lot throughout the 24 hours it took to get her here. Luckily with iPods that's not a problem for most people.

  9. When I gave birth the first time, in 2004, we had just gotten a digital camera. The thought of having a playlist with one of them ther new-fangled iPods or whatnot never crossed our minds. I actually watched TV through all of my births. Sitcoms. Well, I guess not with Lu because she came so fast, but with Bud and Liv, the TV was oddly soothing.


  10. I also didn't use a playlist. I was induced (not as bad as people make it out to be) and had an epi. The only thing that got me through that epi was singing/humming every single Jack Johnson song I know. It took my mind off of what was happening.
    I think it would be awesome to have "Eye of the Tiger" on your playlist though. I think that would be very motivating!!

  11. I put together a playlist of songs that I liked at the time and thought would be good to listen to. I didn't end up using it during labor but loved having music for once we moved to our room. It was so relaxing as I'm not really a tv person. I can't believe it is almost here! Whee!

  12. I am SO excited for you! Having babies is the best thing ever.

    When I am in labor, I kind of disappear into myself. I didn't want any sort of noise-not music, not talking, nothing. I labored alone with my first and didn't wake my husband up until we HAD to leave for the hospital, and then she was born about 10 minutes after we got to the hospital. My second was born at home (on purpose) and horrified my husband when I told the midwife to stop talking to me.

    Good luck! You'll do awesome.

  13. My sister and BIL had a playlist they created (they are really into music) during the birth of Finn. It was meant to be that when Finn came into the world and breathed his first breath outside the womb, Blackbird by the Beatles was playing. They used to play it for him when he was in the belly and he'd always move or kick when it was on. So sweet!

  14. So, so excited for you!

    We did not play music at all for any of the three births. We are music people (well, hubs is, and so vicariously am I), but this was back in the day before ipods, so just the THOUGHT of packing and dragging around a CD player with everything ELSE in the hospital bag seemed quite daunting. By the time ipods did come about during labor #3, I was used to not having the music and did fine without it. I can't honestly say if it would have helped me or not.

    I remember having the TV on during labor #3, and I remember watching part of Conan and being amused/annoyed at the same time, but then I was in the tub, and then it was time for baby....

    I'm sure "Enya" would have played a big role in any compilation we put together, tho.

  15. Add me to the list of no playlist ladies. I ended up with a c-section anyways, but for me the toughest part of my labor was at home (I had insanely intense back labor), and I needed it silent to try and focus through it. Once I got to the hospital, music probably would have been nice, but it would have had to be soothing, non-distracting, almost non-noticeable.

  16. AAAH YOU ALMOST HAVE A BAABYYYYYY!!! i'm not helpful - i'd only be able to recommend silly things like "push it" and "push" and "here comes the sun" except if i was writing the playlist i'd call it "here comes the son" because I AM A CHEESEBALL.

  17. The Big Question I Want Answered...who will blog/tweet for you while you're in labor?


    With all the gagillion friends I have that have had babies, don't know any of them that had a playlist.

    Please share your list once you decide on one!

  18. The thought of playing music during labor never crossed my mind. Maybe that's because I was in the hospital over two months early. Ha. If I think about things retrospectively, I think I would've liked to have music without words ... maybe some jazz, maybe some classical ... something to add to the atmosphere ... then again, maybe I'd want something to rock out to (maybe even sing to) so that it took my mind off the incredible pain I was working through ... who knows, but I love that you're putting thought into it.

  19. I think Jonniker might have had a playlist. You could ask her for suggestions.

    We had the news on in the background all day because it was the day after Election Day, and we were really excited about Obama. But I couldn't really watch anything, nor did I want to. I wouldn't have cared about music at the time either.

  20. I totally understand being excited for labor. It IS a challenge, and each time I get nervous beforehand, but it ends up being one of the most special, memorable days of your life. It is totally excitement-worthy. Just because it's painful doesn't mean it doesn't merit excitement.
    As for music, I ended up not messing with a playlist, even though I planned to. Our doula has a labor playlist on her own ipod that she used during Eli and Jameson's births, and I found it soothing both times. Just a lot of Enya and lullabies and stuff like that. It played on an endless loop for literally HOURS AND HOURS during Jamie's birth, and it was kind of nice, actually, the repetition. So I guess my only advise would be get something you're used to and find relaxing, so that you can tune it out if you want to, and relax into it while still listening to your body, if you DO find yourself paying attention to the songs.

  21. I totally understand being excited for labor. Even though I was basically in labor for a month before I had the girls, it's an experience that I really feel sad about missing out on.

    I didn't get to have music, but I would have loved some Dar Williams!

  22. I listened to a lot of Chet Baker, which was nice. But be careful not to THINK about Chet Baker while listening, because eeewww.

    Oh, and Nat King Cole and Louis Armstrong.

  23. We had a playlist of a lot of songs most of which had a classical or celtic theme. It was on very softly and once the labor got really going, I didn't even notice it. But I think it was a good way to set the mood. For me, that's the important part of having music during the labor...setting the mood. Especially if you're going to do it naturally. I found it very calming but if you don't find music calming, you might not want it.
    Another thing I really wanted during the birth was the lights low so things were quiet and not too bright.
    Bring some essential oils or nice-smelling room spray if you like that sort of thing. My friend who is a doula made these socks full of rice and lavendar that you can put in the microwave use as heating pads. They smelled really good too and that helped me during labor.

  24. The best - IMHO - is a collection of classical acoustic guitar. Glorious. I listened to one CD over and over and it seemed after a bit that I was straining and reaching and working WITH the music, especially breathing through the crescendos! Good luck!!

  25. Just now reading this and HEY! We took a Bradley class, too! Between that and the books we read (and a fabulous nurse), we were well on our way to a natural, unmedicated, water birth! Hope you get the same experience. The class was super helpful. I can't imagine just taking a 2-week class after our 12 weeks!!

    On the subject of music: I got a bunch of CDs from the library with ocean sounds and instrumental stuff and burned it all to my laptop. Between that and my regular music, I figured I'd be set. I ended just wanting to listen to this one hour instrumental CD over and over again during my intense labor. The ocean sounds actually made me yelp, "Please! Turn that off!" Our labor nurse even learned to navigate the playlist and restart the music over and over for me. I don't know why we didn't have it on repeat, come to think of it...Hehe. (I watched Friends between contractions during my at-home labor.)

    Good luck! Let me know if you ever want to talk birth. ;) Ha. I'm sort of a junkie now! It's such a crazy awesome experience. It was traumatic, but now I am so, so proud and confident of myself and my body. Not in a cocky way, at all. Anyway, you'll be awesome!