Setting The Mood for Birth: A Doula's Playlist (Founder Friday)

March 18, 2016

As a doula, one thing I often ask is if a client has a playlist for labor.  Not only does hearing your favorite songs make you happy, but in my experience a labor playlist can also keep you focused, help relax you, help you progress with labor, and help you find your rhythm with managing contractions.  I usually recommend having a few options – maybe one that is slow and relaxing, and one that pumps you up in case you need a boost of energy.  Pandora is awesome, unless you are in hard active labor and a song you loathe comes on.  That never ends well for Pandora.


While a playlist is a nice background for some laboring women, it’s essential for others.  I myself had to have my playlist. When I was getting ready for my first natural birth, I made a stellar playlist.  I used it for walking, and running (yes, running while pregnant can be perfectly healthy), and I played it to the baby via headphones on my belly.  I used it in the car, and I sang along to it REALLY loud.  It wasn’t surprising then that during labor, I turned my playlist on, I focused on the music, and I cruised through that labor. To me labor can be similar to running a distance event. I can cruise through 26.2 miles with my playlist, but I struggle to run 3 miles without my tunes.


I also have a doula playlist.  This is what I jam to on the way to a birth.  It sets the tone.  It makes me happy.  It focuses me.  I hit play, tune out whatever else was happening that day, grab a coffee, and I am in the zone. So here is what my doula playlist looks like right now…



Brave by Sara Bareilles


This is my put your big girl panties on, and get ready to work song.  I was in tears leading up to the last full marathon I did.  I knew how much it was going to hurt, and I was scared I couldn’t do it.  I played this song anytime I got too much in my head.  The night before the race, I cried and my eight year old told me to be brave, and then the kids signed my hand.  That race was hard, but so worth facing the fear.  Going to a birth doesn’t necessarily take bravery, but going into business for myself – that took a lot of guts.  I really struggled with that, so this song gets played anytime I start to think that maybe I am not quite enough, or maybe I just can’t do it all.



Fight Song by Rachel Platten


This song makes it onto the list because of the timing.  This song became popular right about the time we decided to start Island Birth Association.  I drive about an hour each way to meetings, and I would almost always hear this song, and just go…”Yes!”  In a way, this line became my mantra; “I may only have one match, but I can make an explosion.”  I downloaded the song, and I now belt it anytime I am headed anywhere in an advocacy role.



I Won’t Give Up by Jason Mraz


This one has sentimental value to me.  I was 36 weeks pregnant with my home birth baby, and we found out that he was footling breech – again.  He wouldn’t stay head down, and we were about to lose our home birth.  You name it, I tried it.  Since my water had always broken at 37 weeks, we felt a lot of pressure to get him turned before then.  He seemed to move a lot to music by Jason Mraz, so I got Pandora going.  I fell in love with this song when it said, “When you need some space to do some navigating, I’ll be patiently waiting to see what you find.” It just made sense. That quickly went on repeat and onto my low belly, and I focused on trusting that he would choose the best birth for himself.  That kid finally flipped and stayed head down until his home water birth at 38 weeks.  At three years old, that song will still calm him down and put him to sleep.



 Glorious by Mamuse.


How do I describe this?  Birth is amazing, and I am blessed to be at every birth.  While at a birth, the momma was playing this album and this quickly became my favorite song.  I downloaded it before I even left the hospital parking lot. The most memorable moment for me was when her husband, her sister, and I were all around her, and she was singing, “I’ve got good friends to the left of me, and good friends to the right….Oh, what a day. Glorious.” That was just a surreal moment, and she kept that momentum going through the entire birth.




I Love This Life by Locash & Raise Them Up by Keith Urban

I am a secret country fan.  Big time.  For running it’s mostly 90’s hip hop, but for singing along, it’s country all the way.  With four crazy boys, and a sometimes insane schedule, these songs make the current favorite list.  They wake me up when I get a 2 am birth call, and they center me regarding what I love about my life and my work. 



Let It Be by Jennifer Hudson


When I decided to plan for a natural childbirth with Paxton, I became obsessed with this song.  It was on every playlist.  It became my contraction song, and I knew that as long as I could just Let It Be, I would be just fine.  Relax through the contractions instead of fighting them.  I practiced with walking, and a multitude of braxton hicks toward the end of pregnancy.



It was beautiful and perfect, and sums up all of my childbirth reading and knowledge in one simple sentence. It is what I hope to emcompass in my work as an advocate and doula.



Lightning Crashes by Live


Ok, this is it.  This is my absolute favorite all time birth song.  Can it get any more perfect than this chorus? I don’t think so.  I liked this song at age 16,  I fell in love with this song while pregnant with my third, and then I really listened to the words before Kingston’s births.  It was perfection.  If we ever magically have more children, this song will be playing at their births too. 




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