How Does Music Affect Prenatal Babies?
Prenatal music stimulation can offer numerous benefits to both an unborn baby and mom. Music not only helps to enhance stimulation of a fetus’ growing brain, but can also promote a positive state of wellbeing for both baby and mom through relieving stress and creating early bonding experiences.
By 26 weeks, the inner ear of a fetus is fully developed. At this stage, most babies respond to sound stimulation with an increase in heart rate. Many studies have found this change in heart rate is a positive sign that the baby is stimulated by music, and is linked to increased attention, more sound imitation and earlier vocalization in the baby after their birth.
Combat Stress & Promote Development
Pregnancy can be an extremely stressful time especially for first-time mothers, and these high levels of stress have been associated with an increased risk of premature delivery, low birth weight, and behavioral problems in children.
According to Professor Vivette Glover from the Perinatal Psychobiology at Imperial College in London, prenatal stress increases the likelihood of a child developing attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, cognitive delay, anxiousness and depression.
Exposing an unborn baby to music is an effective measure to counter this. Prenatal music helps in stimulating the growth of brain structures and senses, and connects many activated brain areas. Calming music also creates a relaxed atmosphere and can help reduce mom’s stress levels.
Bonding With Mom
A study in 1993 found that babies are able to remember music, voices and sounds after birth, and are particularly responsive to the internal noises and voice of their mother such as their breathing or singing. This can help later on in calming or comforting a restless infant, as they are better able to recognize their mother’s voice. Singing along with music gives the baby an opportunity to hear mom’s voice and form an early bond even before birth.
Furthermore, Dr Alexandra Lamont from the Music Research Group at the University of Leicester claims that babies who hear the same music that was played while in the womb fall asleep faster and sleep longer than babies who did not hear music. Playing the same music after birth can help establish a better sleeping pattern for a baby, which in turn lets parents get more sleep.
Overall, prenatal music positively affects both mom and baby in many ways and is a proactive step moms can take to encourage bonding with her little one and ensure his or her wellbeing. However, mothers who use prenatal music stimulation should be careful not to turn the volume too loud, as this could overstimulate a fetus or possible damage a developing ear. According to Baby Center, the ideal level is around 70 decibels, which is also a comfortable volume for moms to be.
- Agnes Yoon