Ask The Expert: Sound Birthing with Jamie Maresca
Jamie Maresca, MA, MT-BC is a Nashville local and owner of Birth, Babies, and Bach. Jamie has over ten years of experience as a board certified music therapist working in hospitals, schools, nursing homes, and hospice. She is also a Birth Music Consultant, serving families in Middle Tennessee. I had the privilege of sitting down with her this past week, and am thrilled to share what I learned.
Arielle: What made you decide to become a Birth Music Consultant?
Jamie: Well, my background is in music therapy, and that coupled with my personal birth experiences led me to Sound Birthing. When my first daughter was born, I didn’t know that birth options existed, so I had a traditional birth. When I got pregnant with my second daughter, I was introduced to the idea of Sound Birthing and used it during my pregnancy and unmedicated birth. As a music therapist, I understood the idea behind it but having the actual experience was profound. I wanted to share that with other people- a positive birthing experience that many people don’t know they have the option of having!
A: What are the benefits of Sound Birthing?
J: The biggest benefit is that it provides a positive birth environment. This service helps with pain relief during natural childbirth and assists with mother baby bonding. In the womb, babies experience warmth, comfort, and familiarity, then they are born into a bright, comparatively cold world. Introducing music during pregnancy and then using it throughout the birth and on into the postpartum period brings something familiar and comforting to baby as well as the parents to ease the transition from womb to world and add a sense of security.
A: What are the advantages to working with a Birth Music Consultant rather than simply making one’s own birth playlist?
J: Sound Birthing is so much more than playlists. It is a complete birth method. Our playlists are designed with in depth knowledge of the birth process from beginning to end, as well as musical elements and how the two interact with one another. The tempos, the rhythms, the movement is all designed to meet the birthing individual’s needs at any given time. The music is set to mirror the birth process. In addition to receiving playlists, my clients learn how to work with the music, along with specific coping techniques. They also have the opportunity to write their own songs to sing to their baby, at whatever level they are comfortable with. In the music therapy world, we have something called “piggy back songs,” which are established melodies with new words. For people who don’t consider themselves musically inclined, this is something we use to infuse their own meaning into a song for their baby. We make songs for feeding, naptime, diaper changing, and more. This adds comfort, familiarity, and security to their newborn’s experience of everyday routine. Sound Birthing is a one on one experience. So from beginning to end, learning to work with the music, cultivating a playlist to work with the stages of labor, and creating a familiar loving sound for your baby is all individualized to meet the needs of every single special family.
A: What kind of music is used?
J: The music is based on the clients’ preferences, falling within parameters of tempo, rhythm, and other musical elements. It can range from classical music to spa and meditation music. For the early stages especially, you can use more of your typical pop, r&b, rock, and other mainstream music that will help you cultivate a good mindset. As you enter deeper into labor, the structure of the music becomes more solidified as we must follow the course and not interfere with the pattern of labor.
A: What does the process look like?
J: Initially, clients will share their music preferences and background information. They get access to fifty birth playlists that they can listen to and assess what they like and don’t like. We go from there, and when we form their preferred compilation we learn coping techniques to go along with the music. We even go over what strategies we use musically depending on the direction labor takes, for example getting an epidural or having a cesarean will require a different path and a different technique musically as well. They have time to practice using these techniques on a daily basis to hone their skills, and at this point we make necessary tweaks. At this time we are also creating our own songs for the baby to use during pregnancy and then afterward to give baby a sense of comfort. The partner or doula learns how to use and control the music to help the birthing mother. Having a doula is great, because the doula can help manage the music so that dad is supported in keeping track of the music and matching it to the labor process. After the birth, I meet with them once more to help them solidify their musical routines with their baby for sleep, feeding, bathing, etc.
A: Are older siblings involved in this process?
J: That’s an interesting question. When I put together my playlist for my early labor, I was actually inspired by a lot of the music my older daughter was listening to at the time. A lot of it was love songs from Disney movies. The result was she loved listening to it as well and felt included in the process. While older children can be included, I’ve found Sound Birthing is additionally a wonderful tool for parents to focus in on this new baby, and this new special bond.
A: Where do you meet with families?
I know my clients have busy lives and don’t always have time to go somewhere, so not only do I offer my services in person, but I offer them online as well. Online services are great, because clients can have sessions from the comfort of their own home.
A: What is your favorite part of working with birthing families and music?
J: Everybody has a unique story. I love supporting them in their own personal process and then being able to hear the results. It’s also really cool working with families who have had other birth experiences, and then add Sound Birthing to their arsenal. Every time there is a very noticeable difference in the quality of experience.
A: What else should everyone know?
J: Sound Birthing is for all kinds of families, making all kinds of choices. Sound Birthing isn’t only for families aiming to have “natural” births; it’s for families who know they will utilize an epidural, cesarean, and other interventions. It also doesn’t interfere with other coping techniques if you are already using another birthing philosophy. Sound Birthing is for everyone!
Want to know more? You can find Jamie Maresca at Birth, Babies, and Bach. We are so pleased families in Nashville are offered this service!