Let’s talk about birth playlists that don’t revolve around Enya

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Jill sent us a question about labor playlists — you know, music to birth by! She specifically wondered what kind of lists you guys have made that DIDN’T include Enya (Enya fans: she means no harm!). I never got to make one, so here’s some of the songs that I would pick if I were giving birth like, right now.

Personally, I feel like birth is WAY too unpredictable to have a perfectly organized playlist (what if you want to listen to something in a different order? Or nothing at all?), so I just tried to stick with my faves. You’ll notice this is heavy on the sixties and seventies flower-child lullabies (Dylan, George Harrison, Led Zeppelin) and singer-songwriters (I can’t help it!), but I tried to keep it diverse. Who wouldn’t want to try to dance through labor?

These are a few of my favorites songs divided up into hopefully labor-and-birthing-appropriate categories:

Happy, Fun, “This isn’t as bad as I thought it would be!” Tunes

When you need something to make you comfortable/zen you out.

“Oh, shit. Labor might be hard.”

When labor gets really hard.

“YAY MY BABY IS SO AMAZING! I AM SO IN LOVE!”

So, what (if anything) did you guys listen to? If you have a playlist saved or blogged online, link to it!

Comments on Let’s talk about birth playlists that don’t revolve around Enya

  1. I ended up with Brian Eno’s Another Green World on repeat for about 4 hours. That album, particularly the first track Sky Saw can for some reason help me float through the world and is what i needed for labor.

  2. I listened to Dead Can Dances ‘SpiritChaser’ through two labors. Helped me relax and concentrate at the same time (and as a side note I used my husbands crazy eyebrows as a focal point LMAO!)

  3. I had a planned c-section due to a hip defect… I bought along one CD of William Byrd’s beautiful Masses for 4 and 5 voices and one of my favourite pieces of all time, Vaughan-William’s ‘Fantasia on a Theme of Thomas Tallis’ for string orchestra, which they put on just as my daughter was ready to be hauled out, leading to a nice chat with the anaesthetist, who was a Vaughan-Williams fan!

    I might make a mix CD for the next one… thinking of some Lamb, Orbital, Underworld (mellower moments of!) among others.

  4. this is all awesome! i’m due tomorrow and working on my playlists tonight (oops). glad my question ran today!

  5. My daughter was born to “Rubberband Man” by the Spinners, but the rest of the playlist was pretty eclectic. There was a LOT of Morcheeba, as well as tracks from Hot Chip, Bon Iver, Vampire Weekend, Moby, Daft Punk, Bill Withers, Basement Jaxx and Portishead to name a few. I made my playlist weeks ahead of time and listened to it for a couple of days to weed out the songs that I felt would bug me. After my daughters birth my midwife and doula both told me how much they really like my playlist. I’m working on baby #2’s list right now and still listen to baby #1’s all the time.

  6. Yay! Flaming Lips for the win!

    Like many of you, my wife had the playlist all ready to go on her iPod, but when it came to it we ended up with Radio 4 (we’re in the UK. Good old BBC). Contractions started around 3am, so we switched it on and left it on right through our wonderful home-birth. You know you’re up too early when you hear Farming Today.

    Around 11:30 a new series of Ed Reardon’s Week started (a comedy programme on Radio 4). Shuffling into the bathroom for the final few contractions, my wife curses the fact that she can’t listen to it properly. That’s the woman I married!

    James

  7. I adore Muse (and have done for many years), and have all their albums which provide the perfect mix of slow/bombastic music so will have the albums on loop on my ipod. I also recently discovered (thanks to OBBT) Vitamin String Quartet who have done amazing covers of Muse songs and will probably put a pile of them in the list also for instumental music.

  8. Through the easy part of the labor I just had the Beatles playing. It kept me motivated because my daughter’s name is Penelope-Lane : ) But once the shit hit the fan, i wanted absolute silence, that meant no heavy breathing or rapid movement! roar!

  9. I didn’t listen to much until it was time to push. I remember them telling me I was fully dilated and me saying ‘Wait, wait! I need Bob Marley!’ Four songs in our baby boy was born. Three Little Birds was the first song the little man ever heard with his own ears. I was definitely super grateful that I had music with me.

    • That’s my baby’s in-utero favorite song! He loves all reggae, but he always dances like mad to that one. 🙂

  10. I listened to entire albums of Do Make Say Think; Radiohead; Clap your Hands Say Yeah; and Broken Social Scene during my labour. While I pushed and when my daughter was born I had Cat Power’s version of ‘sea of love’ Music was a key part of my process.

  11. I had HOURS of music put together. One energetic playlist (that I never listened to) full of all of my favorite songs to sing and dance to, mostly oldies. And the other was all slow stuff. I didn’t pay attention to the mood or lyrics, just whether they sounded relaxing if you weren’t really paying attention to them. So lots of Iron & Wine and the Beatles. “Perfect Day” by Loud Reed played right after Atticus was born. Nobody remembers what was playing while he was being born, though. Probably something awesome.

  12. I’m not pregnant yet, but I was able to jot down a few songs off the top of my head: Hey Jude by The Beatles, Can’t Take My Eyes Off of You by Lauryn Hill, Hand in My Pocket (acoustic) by Alanis Morissette, The Scientist by Cold Play, Hallelujah by Rufus Wainwright, and Brighter Than Sunshine by Aqualung (the song my husband and I danced to at our wedding.)

  13. My friend swears that “Alive With The Glory of Love” by Say Anything is what got her through the birth of her son last year. She had that song on repeat for 13 hours. Her fiance now jokes that only a song about getting freaky & falling in love during the holocaust could make a woman in labor feel better about her situation.

  14. I ended up heading to the hospital while on a date with my hubby and didn’t have anything with me. I had to have an emergency c-section and they had a top 40 station playing in the OR. I was worried that my son would enter the world to a Lil Wayne or Enrique tune, but the moment he came out, it was Colbie Caillet’s “Bubbly” I was ok with that.

  15. My first labor was a 12+ hour induction… the first half was mostly sleeping and television, and the second half was all dub, especially Augustus Pablo, and some Black Uhuru, etc. It was all very meditative and rhythmic, so I guess you could say it was the Enya of reggae?

    For both of my labors, I wanted nothing to do with sound from transition through pushing. No matter how peaceful the music, it felt like it was weighing down on me.

  16. I actually never had a playlist per-say. I played the Beatles constantly during my pregnancy and even put head phones on my belly playing the Beatles while I was pregnant so during labor all I did was take my laptop and play the Beatles. I also had them playing constantly while we were in the hospital after boogie was born.

  17. A lil’ bit close to Enya, but one of my mine would definitely be The Mummers Dance by Loreena McKennitt. I am one of those people who hate listening to music when I am in pain, but that one is an exception.

    Plus it has to do with the tradition of “mumming” which from what I understand took place during spring and was linked to fertility and such. Fits for me ;-)!

  18. This cracked me up because I DID have Enya on my list and somehow did not realize it was so cliche. The funny thing is, I never listen to new agey music normally, but it was perfect for laboring because it helped me get into the hypno-birthing state I wanted. I also had violin by Joshua Bell, Enigma, Mark Isham, Michael Nyman, and Solas (Irish). I would suggest a few different playlists b/c you can’t predict what you will want to hear if you’ve not been in labor before (and it might not be anything like what you normally listen to, like it was with me). Also, I suggest practicing listening to your playlists and relaxing to them because–at least for me–it created an association so that I automatically relaxed when listening to the songs during labor.

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