Music is divine, music is therapeutic. We often talk about ‘music for the soul’; and according to Hindu belief the soul returns to earth, is reborn the moment a woman conceives. The fetus is thus considered very much a living being able to perceive and feel whatever is happening with the mother and her environment. Almost all religious sects of the world believe the same. And this is the main reason why most religions consider abortion a sin.
Fetus is certainly a living being because it grows and its heart beats. But how much can it sense, hear and feel is a matter of constant debate. Scientists have always been intrigued by this question and researching on the brain development and activities of the fetus. This curiosity is of particular importance in India, inspired by the often cited example from the epic ‘Mahabharat’, that of ‘Abhimanyu’, the son of ‘Arjuna’. Abhimanyu heard the war strategies when still in his mother’s womb. This knowledge remains with him till his youth when he applies it practically in the battle field.
The fetus starts reacting to sound by the age of five months. It begins to recognize the sound of the mother and other routine sounds in the mother’s environment.
A proof of this is the readiness with which the child recognizes and learns the mother tongue. Such revelations encouraged researchers to study the effect of music on the unborn child. Music certainly creates positive vibrations around the listeners. Some researches claim that music enters the womb without any distortion and so it can be used for the well being of the fetus. The fetus is said to get stimulated and shows movement when exposed to external sound. Music is said to encourage better development of the fetus and the kids born with appropriate musical exposure have better auditory, linguistic and reading abilities.
There is another group of researchers who trash these claims and say that the fetus does not feel any music as it is in a sort of comatose state in the womb.
Whether the fetus can feel the music directly or not remains a matter of debate. But one thing is sure and that is - music does soothe the heart and mind of the mother. Keeping happy and positive emotions and feeling are important for the would-be mother and her unborn child’s healthy mental and physical development. Good, soft music help pregnant women to relax and feel happy. The positive vibrations of music keep the mother relaxed and away from anxiety and depression. These positive vibrations are passed on to the fetus.
Just as an infant is attracted to and feels happy on hearing some chirpy tune, the same may be the case with the fetus. Because the direct effect of music on the fetus is still to be proved, the emphasis should be naturally on the mental and physical well-being of the mother. For this music is recommended.
Ancient Indian scriptures recommend listening to soft spiritual chants, mantras and sounds like ‘OM’. These sounds are soothing and also resemble the calmness inside the womb, which is like the void of the universe. Such sounds encourage the holistic development of the fetus.
Avoid loud music and sounds. Loud, shrill noises make the little unborn child uncomfortable.
If you listen to good music during pregnancy, may be your child too will love such music when he or she grows up.
Health benefits of music
Music has powerful effect on our emotional and biological health. Some of the several benefits of music on our mind and body are-
- Calms the mind- Slow, soft music calms the mind and brings it to a meditative state. This helps in warding of stress and anxiety.
- Wards off depression- Music has the power to make you light and happy. It makes you forget your worries and depression as it directly effects the brain cells causing positives changes in them. Music promotes positive changes in the mind leading to optimism and creativity. It adds beauty to life.
- Breathing and heart rate- Music causes changes in brainwave activity levels, which in turn effects other body functions. Soothing music lowers the heart rate and breathing rate. This not only brings about relaxation, but several other medical benefits like prevention of heart related problems, blood pressure, respiratory problems etc. Improved breathing and heart function boosts immunity.
- Concentration and alertness- The positive changes in the brain caused by music improves our power of concentration and keeps us alert.
- Eases muscle tension
- Helps in pain management- Music is used in many hospitals to ease patient’s pain.
- Promotes movement- This is one reason why exercise becomes enjoyable when done with music on.
- Promotes sound sleep.