While pregnant with my first son I envisioned listening to my favorite music while laboring, and letting those familiar songs take me to a far away place.  This place would have no pain of course, and I would need no drugs, only songs, to get me through.  Naive?  Probably.  Also, my husband never got around to making that awesome playlist I had written up for him.

I didn’t listen to any music.  The only background music I heard while in labor was the beeping of the multiple machines I was on, and the heartbeat of my then unborn baby, which echoed in the room.  Eventually we turned the TV on and I watched my soap opera at 1 pm while the midwife broke my bag of waters.  This is the only time marker I recall, so thank you, Day of Our Lives.

If all goes according to my plan, my next son is going to be born in comfort of my own home.  My doula came by and said our home had a warm and inviting feeling.  This made me feel even better about our decision.

Once again, I am imagining using music during my labor to “take me away” as Calgon would say.  I do believe there is a transformative power to music. As a teen music was my escape from the shitty life I had and the shitty home I lived in.  I shut myself inside my shitty room and cranked my Smashing Pumpkins to 11.  I cried to those songs and dreamed I would get the hell out of that place one day.  And I did.

Radiohead, Zwan, Smashing Pumpkins, Nickel Creek, maybe some Sigur Ros. These are artists I want in my labor playlist.  Do I sound like a product of the 90’s?  (You may be wondering where the hell Nickel Creek fits in.  The fiddle and banjo make my heart happy, so sue me.)  I went on a shopping spree last week.  Over multiple moves (high school home, to college dorm, to townhome with my then boyfriend (now husband), to apartment in NY, to duplex in NY currently) my favorite cd’s were lost or scratched beyond repair.  So, I rebought them on Half.com.

This Side, Why Should the Fire Die?, Mary Star of the Sea, Amnesiac, all came to live with me this week.  Many of my other cd’s I wish to listen to are still in my basement to be rediscovered.

I popped in my Zwan cd yesterday and felt so happy to hear them again.  It has been years.  A part of me was afraid the music would remind me of the bad times, or my younger life of concerts and traveling.  For whatever reason the cd only makes me feel hopeful and joyful.  I doubt I could listen to Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness during labor, or any other time, and not remember playing the cd every day for 3 years and feeling sorry for myself.  But Zwan came at a later point in my life when things weren’t as bad because I made them better.  I was older and had a license.  Life wasn’t as sucky.  In my new life, this morning, while washing dishes, I had tears streaming down my face just hearing my beloved Zwan.  In my former life I got 2 Smashing Pumpkins tattoos and one for Zwan. (Yeah, I have band tattoos, and non band tattoos.  I also have/had quite a few piercings.  I was a wild child!)  In my new life, Billy Corgan has disappointed me.  Thanks Twitter for shattering the god-like image I had of him.

I haven’t listened to new music since college.  I am that person who will always love the music of their youth.  Apparently, it can mean something else to me these days.  My life is nothing like it was when these songs first came out.  I have a son and a husband.  I am about to use this music (hopefully) to bring another baby into the world.  Maybe part of the reason I can listen to these songs and not remember the bad is because during the bad I was always thinking of the good.  I wanted to get married and have a family.  I pictured myself as the best mom in the world!  I don’t know that I am that, but I think I do ok.

As a person who has used the power of music to transport herself elsewhere, I feel this plan will work and I am excited to bounce on my birthing ball, let the contractions do their job, and let Radiohead put me in a trance.  (My husband hates them and says they put him to sleep)

Anyone else use music during their labor?

10 Responses

  1. I can totally relate!! I also use music to transport myself to another place, and am working on my labor playlist (this is my first baby though, so we’ll see what happens in reality). My one concern is that I will associate some of my favorite songs to labor pains when all is said and done. I listened to Mumford & Sons through my first trimester…now, whenever I hear them, I feel nauseous! Ugh! Good Luck! I hope it works for you!!

  2. I brought along my MP3 player when I was in labor with my son, but never ended up using it until after he was born. It definitely helped me fall to sleep when my roommate (who had a hearing problem) would blast here tv late at night. Hopefully for the next one I’ll feel more calm and think to actually take the player out of my bag while in labor…

  3. I actually had music on my ipod during my c-section with #1. I remember what was playing when they showed her to me over the curtain – Bob Marley! I don’t remember if it was “One Love” or “Jammin'” Either way, that reggae groove really kept me calm during a stressful time. I like the idea of sigur ros and radiohead….maybe I’ll try that for my next one due in Dec. We are trying a VBAC, and I know I will be scared and probably stressed, so anything to put me in a trance:-)

  4. Yay for Radiohead! I tried music during labor but it wasn’t cutting it for me even early on. I was induced at night and ended up laboring for 2 days straight so that didn’t help my cause. The whole time I just wanted to sleep or get in the tub. Your labor plan sounds like it’d be very conducive to relaxing, beautiful music though. Enjoy your labor and all the joy it will bring you!

  5. I thought this post was so, so beautiful. Music is and always has been a very important part of my life as well. It got me through my very tough childhood and teen years and brought me and my husband together. Although I won’t get to experience labor, I look forward to playing all of my beloved 90s favorites for my soon-to-be-adopted baby.

  6. My husband loved Smashing Pumpkins (and Radiohead) as a teen and although I was a conservative, homeschool girl that thought James Taylor was about as rockin’ as I could stand, my sweet music loving husband (then just sweetheart) made me CD after CD of sweet complilations that reminded him of me. Every one of them have a Smashing Pumpkins song on it, and I love all of them. I am now married to this music lover (we have a portion of our budget each month that goes to music). I have never “figured out” music. I like listening to lots of stuff, but I have never been good at picking out music for my mood. I get bored quickly with music, but I could listen to audio books or listen to experts talk about interesting subjects on the radio all day long.

    During labor, my husband (at request of the midwife) put on one of the CDs he made me during our dating years. It was pretty soothing, but not pain-numbing (too bad!). I did remember latching on to the phrase (probably not helpfully) of some singer in some song (sorry, I’m bad with music), “Nobody said it was easy, but nobody said it would be this hard.” Ha! My sentiments exactly!

    Next labor, I will try some different things (maybe hypnotherapy?) and one of them might be music. I bet some faster upbeat, maybe more primal or beat based, music might be encouraging during lulls, and maybe some sweet, sweet violin or piano music might be good to curl up into during the intense parts. My mother was listening to praise music when my brother was born, and they looked into his face as the music played, “You are beautiful beyond description, too marvelous for words . . .” Too sweet.

    One thing, I think my midwife would say, is that when you are in labor, many people get to a more primative place and sometimes you face or deal with things that you hide away. Maybe music from your past would help with that, maybe it wouldn’t, but it’s something to be aware of. I guess if you’re crying while listening to it, you already know that!

  7. I used a playlist comprised of Jewel, Shaun Mullins, Nora Jones, a couple Lizzy West songs, a couple of Celtic Women songs, & Your Song by Elton John with my first daughter. It did seem to help. I was in labor for so long that the batteries ran out in my MP3! My son didn’t give my the opportunity to listen to music — we barely made it to the hospital in time!

  8. i think i could have written this post. i dont think i listened to anything but smashing pumpkins while i was a teenager. i let my idiot friend tattoo the smashing pumpkin heart on my back, only to find out that when it was finished that it was backwards! thats what i get for being a dumb 17 year old emo kid. 🙂 i never would have dreamed that billy corgan could be so desperate to stay famous that he would date tila tequila, or jessica simpson. awful!

    i also was naive and thought that labor would be painless, LOL. so wrong.

  9. Radiohead on your labor playlist?? Absolutely…2 thumbs up! What first got me started thinking about a labor playlist was when I was sitting at Borders while I was last pregnant and they were playing “House of Cards.” I remember just feeling like I go into a trance-like state during that song, which lead me to thinking that I should add more “atmospheric” RadioHead songs to a labor playlist! Something else that was kind of a litmus test when i was considering what songs to add: what were the lyrics? Were they obviously negative/angry/etc? If so, I didn’t want that vibe coming through my music.

    I discovered your blog just recently as I’m embarking on a second try at cloth-diapering. (Used them for about 6 weeks with my son. Didn’t know what I was doing. Ended up ruining all my wraps with whitening agent. Last pregnancy I ordered a bunch from a person who I thought was reputable…ended being a scam and I didn’t have enough money at the time to order more. Sooo, now my youngest is 13 months and I’ve decided to go for it!) Your blog will be a great resource for me. And many blessings to you as you prepare for a homebirth! 🙂

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