How Music May Support Perinatal Mental Health: An Overview


Archives of Women's Mental Health




There is strong evidence that engaging with music can improve our health and well-being. Music-based interventions, approaches and practices, such as group music-making (singing or playing musical instruments), listening to music and music therapy, have all been shown to reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety. Although the existing literature needs expanding, mounting evidence suggests that music-based interventions, approaches and practices may help support maternal mental health prenatally and postnatally. The purpose of this descriptive overview is to provide a broad view of this area by bringing together examples of research across different practices and research disciplines. Selected evidence is examined, showing how music-based interventions, approaches and practices can reduce labour anxiety and pain, anxiety symptoms in pregnancy, postnatal depression symptoms and support maternal-infant bonding. The examined research includes single studies and reviews that use both qualitative and quantitative methods. Drawing on animal and human models, the effect of music on foetal behaviour and various possible biological, psychological and social mechanisms are discussed. The potential preventive effect of music-based interventions, approaches and practices and their possible use across different cultures are also considered. Overall, we highlight how music, employed in a variety of ways, may support perinatal mental health with the aim of stimulating more interest and research in this area.

Music and Health Institute Terms

Anxiety; Childbirth; Depression; Labor Pain; Mental Health; Music Listening; Music Medicine; Pain; Playing an Instrument; Psychological Outcomes; Recorded Music Listening; Recreative Music Methods; Singing a Song; Wellness and Well-Being

Indexed Terms

Anxiety; Mental Health; Pregnancy; Singing; Mental health; Postnatal; Prenatal

Study Type

Editorials, Opinions, Position Papers

PubMed ID


Document Type