Earlier this week, The Metro got in touch with Katharine for a comment on their article about the rise in pregnant people using music to soothe and guide them through their labour.
The article describes how research has shown that music can actually alter the way the brain perceives pain, in particular, the parts of the brain associated with emotions and memory.
Familiarity with a certain song or album can distract the brain with memories of a certain time or place.
Katharine had this to say:
“Many women find music soothing when they give birth and draw up a playlist of music to play during labour. Probably the main benefit is that music is calming and, when the mind is calm we produce the hormone oxytocin. There are oxytocin receptors in the uterus so the uterine muscle work better with a calm mind so labour is shorter. Also, when the mind is calm, we are not in the freeze/flight/fight mode (sympathetic nervous system) so we are not planning to run or fight therefore all the blood supply remains in the internal organs, i.e. the uterus. The uterus is a bag of muscle, some of the most powerful muscles in the body, and muscles need a good supply to oxygen in order to function – athletes collapse with cramp if they do not have a good supply of oxygen – so a calm mind facilitates this.
It is interesting to note that farmers often play music when their cows are calving – so they have discovered that there is a commercial advantage to this. Do we treat cows better than women when they are giving birth?!”
You can read the article in full on the Metro site: https://metro.co.uk/2021/09/17/how-birthing-playlists-can-help-with-pain-relief-when-giving-birth-15274627/