Lullaby link to dream pregnancy
Study examines calming effect on mum and baby
THE powerful and apparently calming effects of mothers singing lullabies during their pregnancy are being studied by Irish academics.
The Lullaby Research team at the University of Limerick (UL) is a collaboration between the School of Nursing and Midwifery, Graduate Entry Medical School, Irish World Academy of Music and Dance and the Irish Chamber Orchestra.
The study involved women recruited through the Limerick Regional Maternity antenatal education classes, and the aim of the research was to look at the effect of different strategies in relieving stress in pregnancy.
According to Professor Micheal O Suilleabhain, director of the Irish World Academy of Music and Dance, the intersection of performing arts research and medical research is a rich area of exploration.
"This study is a good example of the increasingly creative relationship between arts research at the Irish World Academy and the rapidly growing Medical School at UL," he said.
"The calming effect of music may be attributable to the fact that the normal tempo of music falls somewhere between 60 and 80, when measured on the metronome. The average measure is approximately 72, which corresponds with the average adult human heartbeat.
"There is, additionally, considerable evidence to suggest that listening to music and singing benefits both mother and infant," he said.
The lullabies were taught by Kathleen Turner of the Irish Chamber Orchestra and Oscar Mascarenes, director of the BA in voice and dance at the Irish World Academy of Music and Dance.
The lullabies taught included traditional Irish and international songs that have been serenading young children for centuries, as well as more recent compositions including, 'Close Your Eyes, Sweet Love', 'The Meadow' and 'Go to Sleep My Little Baby'.
Deirdre Morrisey, from Limerick, a participant in the study who recently gave birth to baby Bowker, said she remembered the lullabies when she was giving birth.
"When I was giving birth there were two birch trees swaying in the wind right outside the window and I could hear the melody, 'Lovely Birch in the Meadow' in my head. This helped me stay calm," she said.
"Bowker is now seven weeks old and my husband and I continue to use the lullabies when rocking him to sleep," she said.
Participants are asked to fill in a questionnaire that measures stress -- while pregnant and again six weeks after birth. They are also asked to learn to sing some lullabies before the birth. Data analysis is ongoing at present and the findings will be presented in the near future.