Listening to music increases relaxing hormones (serotonin and endorphins) which are known to improve fetal brain development, prenatal learning and baby's sleeping habits after birth. Classical music is most effective in neural pathway development due to its complexity and interchanging notes. Avoid prolonged use and keep volume levels under 50dB.
Music can not only bring innumerable benefits to a pregnant mother, but can significantly benefit the health of her baby as well. Reading, singing or playing your favorite music can help you feel closer to your baby. The healthy mental growth of a baby begins while it is still in its mother’s womb.
This has also been depicted in Mahabharata (the longest known epic poem) where Abhimanyu (the son of Arjuna and Subhadra) as an unborn child in his mother’s womb, learns the knowledge of entering the deadly and virtually impenetrable Chakravyuha, as he overheard Krishna narrating the technique of Chakravyuha to pregnant Subhadra.
Listening To Music While Pregnant Is Good For The Baby – Myth Or Fact?
Listening to music while pregnant can have a profound effect on your baby. Studies of newborn behavior show that babies get used to the music and voices they’ve heard in the womb. When your baby is born, if he hears sounds he’s heard before birth, he may respond by appearing more alert and active.
Playing music during your pregnancy is one of many proactive steps an expecting mother can take to ensure the well-being of her unborn baby. According to experts, a child, even before birth, is capable of seeing, hearing, feeling and learning, even while it is in the uterus.
Since pregnancy can be an extremely stressful time, a great way to unwind and reduce stress is by listening to music. This time of relaxation produces the happy hormones (serotonin and endorphins) which are transferred to the baby through the placenta.
Listening to calming music also reduces stress hormones, relaxes muscles and promotes a state of well-being for both mom and baby.
Over the past several years new scientific research has shown that there are several benefits to playing music while pregnant, these include:
- Positive effects on fetal brain development
- Prenatal learning
- Reduced stress levels during pregnancy
- Improving a baby’s sleeping habits after birth
- Helping to create a wonderful bonding experience for mother and child
Can My Baby Hear If I Read And Play Music?
The music-hearing ability depends on the developmental stage of the fetus:
- Your baby normally will start to hear between 23 weeks and 27 weeks and have been shown to turn their heads in response to voices and noises.
- At about 24 weeks, your baby’s outer, middle and inner ear including the cochlea (the snail-shell-shaped tube in the inner ear where vibrations are converted into the nerve impulses we perceive as sound) are well-developed. Your baby will also start to hear low-pitched sounds. These sounds will be mostly what’s going on in your body, such as blood pumping through your vessels and your breathing.
- Between about 29 weeks and 33 weeks your baby can make out high-pitched sounds too – such as a child’s cry or a car alarm.
How Does Music Influence The Development Of The Baby?
Music is involved in the neurological development of the baby. Many neurological pathways are linked with music, including the ability to visualize and interpret shapes known as spatial reasoning, memory and perception.
During embryonic development, neural crest cells (a temporary group of cells that give rise to cell lineage) migrate from the neural tube or the spinal cord of the infant. These migrations form ganglia that grow axons to target different organs including the brain.
As the pathways of neural crest cells develop, the connections they form become stronger by stimulation. The music pathways become strong and more complex when music is detected by the brain. This will help stimulate baby’s senses and improve his/her brain development.
Is There Any Specific Kind Of Music That’s Good?
All genres of music can help create new pathways in the brain, but the complexity and interchanging notes of classical music is the most effective. Neurons can be stimulated even after their connections are well-developed, so adults too can witness the effects of classical music, although the outcome is not as strong.
Researchers think the complexity of classical music is what primes the brain to solve spatial problems more quickly. Classical music has a more complex musical structure. So, listening to classical music may have different effects on the brain than listening to other types of music.
However, listening to other kind of music also helps build music-related pathways in the brain and can have positive effects on our moods that may make learning easier.
How Do I Play Music For My Unborn Child? How Loud Is Too Loud?
It is best to play music on the stereo than to use headphones on your belly since the music is up close and may overstimulate the baby.
The American Academy of Pediatrics says that the volume on your stereo should not be higher than 65 decibels (dB) (about as loud as background music at the store) because that may startle the baby.
And if you’re listening to music for prolonged periods, it’s best to keep the volume below 50 dB (the sound level in most neonatal intensive care units). Noise has the possibility to cause some developmental damage or hearing loss in a growing baby when it’s loud, prolonged and repeated.
Because research on this topic is still at its infancy, it is advisable to proceed cautiously. Also it has been shown that exposure to music and literature has a much more significant effect once your baby is actually born, than it does prenatally. If you decide to try it, remember that it is best to play music cautiously and always do so in moderation.
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6. Department of Physiology, College of Medicine, Kyung Hee University. “Influence of prenatal noise and music on the spatial memory and neurogenesis in the hippocampus of developing rats.” Brain and Development 28.2 (2006): 109-114.