Simply Sing! Babies and lullabies.
by Susan Moore Daniels CNM, MSN
There is a lot of research coming out about the importance of therapeutic applications of live music for healing in humans. From premature babies starting life in NICU to hospice care at the end of life, live music has vibrational healing qualities in medicine that we are only just starting to measure. I have had experiences as a musician in both circumstances. I express gratitude every day for the healing influences of music and sound in my life.
At times, live music for healing purposes is made more complicated than it needs to be: through the choice of certain instruments, through our striving for musical perfection, perhaps through some performance anxiety or stage fright, or even through thinking we just aren’t “talented” enough.
The act of simply singing to your babies is so important in helping their little brains build better neural pathways for calming — and it’s so easy! Lullabies are among the most primal of communication modes. They are simple rhythms and tones that lull. They have been used across our planet for nearly all of human time, passing through generations, mostly to aid in helping babies drift off into a restful sleep.
After the birth of my first child I became quite enchanted artistically with collecting lullabies, and then later, I became a little scientifically obsessed with studying and analyzing certain aspects of lullabies — both as a midwife and as a musician. The musician in me felt the primal and powerful healing vibrations of the rhythms, when matched up with the simple chords and melodies that make up the majority of lullaby music. The midwife in me became a little creeped out when I studied some of the lyrics typically sung to our babies.
So, let’s just get the creepy stuff out of the way. Some lullaby lyrics are pretty awful… they can be dark and macabre. I will spare you examples from around the globe, but there is, of course, the habitually famous “Rock-a-bye baby, on the tree top, when the wind blows the cradle will rock. When the bough breaks, the cradle will fall, and down will come baby, cradle and all.” WHAT?! Did the baby get hurt? Die? What just happened? There are actually lots of studies about the words that are sung to babies, and how many of the cradle songs from almost all cultures can sound like tragic murder ballads. It has been hypothesized that some lyrics were “lyrics in metaphors,” to covertly convey views that needed to remain culturally hidden by those under oppression. I have often wondered about some of the dark subjects in lullaby lyrics serving as a simple release of a “darkest fear.” There is quite a lot to process here, with many possible corollaries and echoes of postpartum depression and anxiety singing down through the ages. To cut to the chase, my goal is to get you singing to your babies… and the truth is BABIES DON’T CARE ABOUT THE WORDS!
Babies don’t need perfect pitch or performance-level singing either. What they need is just a little rhythm and your gentle familiar tones. A fetus inside the womb begins to hear sounds at about 24 weeks of pregnancy. The sounds first heard are the steady rhythms of the mother’s heartbeat and gentle sounds of respirations and voice. Yet as fetuses, we all vibrate on a cellular level to this primordial rhythm even before we have ears that hear. So, rhythm is quite important. Fortunately it is instinctive, especially when you picture in your mind all the ways people walk the floors with a crying baby: gently bouncing, swaying, dancing, or maybe sitting in a rocking chair and just rocking. The lyrics of the song you pick to sing will also provide rhythmic quality. Even if the lyrics are creepy, it is the poetic beat of the sounds of the words that works here — tiny babies can’t understand the words. In fact, some lullabies have “nonsense” words and syllables on and off throughout, which are very effective in rhythmic soothing, such as “baloo baleerie” and “toora, loora, loora,” from a couple of old Irish lullabies.
This time of year many holiday traditions include more music for us to enjoy in the form of old familiar festive folk songs, carols, and the “oldies” style rock-n-roll holiday songs. Many of these types of song offerings very similar to lullabies in their simple rhythms, chords and melodies. I remember when one of my children was 2 years old, quite ill over the winter months, I spent many-a-night rocking her while singing “Frosty the Snowman,” repeating and repeating at her request, probably over 5,000 times! The part with the nonsense words that goes “thumpity thump thump, thumpity thump thump, look at Frosty go” was the most comforting to her. That part became therapeutically meditative as a thumpity little mantra for me as well.
Most lullabies from around the globe are pretty simple with regard to the pitches or chords used to make up the musical properties. The pitch of the melody has gentle rises followed by the pitches lowering, similar to the rise and fall of relaxed breathing. Newborn babies know the pitch of their mother’s voice from the womb, hearing those vocal sounds and feeling the vocal vibrations. Sometimes, babies who have been sung to in the womb by someone other than the mother will turn their head after birth towards the familiar singer and their sounds. Lullabies help babies form neural pathways for calming, with sounds and vibrations familiar from the womb.
So sing to them. Sing from your heart, and your lungs, and your cells, in vibration with the history of human time. Don’t worry about perfect pitch, or who‘s got talent. You can even make up your own words—telling your family’s story or using nonsense words with pleasing rhythms. Find your own melody, and share the gift of your song with your baby. Let it be healing and soothing for both of you.
Holiday Hours Reminder!
To allow staff time to celebrate with their families, we will be closed on Monday Dec. 23rd-Wednesday 25th and Monday Dec. 30th-Wednesday Jan 1st. The Wednesday morning Breastfeeding Support Group will be cancelled on Dec. 25th and Jan. 1st.
Midwives are available 24/7 through the on-call line for labor and urgent medical questions.
Thank you and Happy Holidays!
Calling all Pappies!
You thought it was gone, but we are bringing it back! Did you and your partner have a baby or will soon? Do you like to drink beer in a safe, responsible way? Do you want to drink beer in a safe, responsible way with other dudes who have ALSO had a baby with their partner?!? If you answered yes to these questions, then Pappy Hour may be for YOU!
Join Albuquerque transplant Ryan Stairs for a couple hours a month at a rotating, local brewery for beer, conversation, and perhaps a little sportsball. Kiddos are welcome, but lightly discouraged from attending (life is weird, so it might have to happen, we get it). We as Pappies love our partners very much, but they should consider staying home for these events. These groups are free and open to our extended community, not just DAL Dads!
Saturday, January 11, from 4-6 p.m.
La Cumbre Brewing Co. 3313 Girard NE
Saturday, January 25, from 4-6 p.m.
Location to be announced
RSVP HEREDar a Luz does not advocate or encourage the abuse of alcoholic beverages. Please drink responsibly and in moderation.
To register for classes visit our website calendar pageHERE
Birth Center Tours
- Saturday, Jan 11th
- Saturday, Jan 18th
10:00 to 11:30 a.m.
Interventions and Hospital Transfers
Learn what happens when birth doesn’t go as expected. Hear from midwives, doulas, counselors, and a past family who transferred. Free dinner! YOU MUST register for this class. Click HERE to register.
- Wednesday, Dec 18th
5:15 to 8:00 p.m.
Doula Teas with the New Life Doula Collective
Come & join us for some tea, and meet our doulas. We’ll help you learn more about doula care, so you
can explore your options. RSVP for tea HERE to let us know you’re coming (drop-ins OK too) or to learn more about doulas visit Doula page on our website HERE
- Saturday, Jan 11th noon
- Monday, Jan 27th 5:30 p.m.
Breastfeeding and New Moms
Facilitated by our Lactation Consultant Robin Hayter with support from the nurses and midwives.
- Wednesday mornings, 10:00 to noon
Postpartum Mom Group
Our staff counselor Kimberlee Maresma, LPCC will hold a therapeutic group that supports the new mother for the first year. Email Kimberlee HERE with any questions.
- Friday, Jan 3rd noon
Fathers Mindful Group
Thursday, Dec 19th at 6 p.m.
The Postpartum Partner Group has a new name! Please join Jose Maresma for an evening of an emotionally safe exploration of the differences our partners face after the birth of a new baby. This Workshop is for fathers. Suggested donation: $10-20
…and counting! That’s over 2870 gallons! Go, Mamas, Go!
Disclaimer: Most of the special events below are set up and led by community members — not Dar a Luz staff members — and as such, they don’t necessarily reflect our beliefs as an organization. Dar a Luz is not responsible for their content, and does not necessarily endorse every aspect presented.
Pelvic Floor: Changes During Pregnancy and Postpartum Recovery
Wednesday, Jan 29th at 6 p.m.
Learn about how the amazing female body changes to accommodate pregnancy and delivery. Genevieve Richter, a local pelvic floor physical therapist, will educate you on these changes and provide exercises that you can do during pregnancy and postpartum to help optimize recovery, and prevent injury. Space is limited for this class! Save your spot by signing up below. $10 donation requested (sliding scale available). These usually fill quickly. Sign up HERE
Babies beyond the Basics
Part 1 Sunday, Feb 16th 10 a.m.
Part 2, Sunday, Feb 23rd 11 a.m.
Exciting changes to this series for 2020 including more time, topics, and guest speakers! Sign up HERE
Infant Child and Adult CPR
Tuesday, Feb 25th at 6 p.m.
Firefighter Kris Romero leads this certification course in infants, child and adult CPR. Learn the basics for life-saving measures, what to do in an emergency, and feel more prepared for a sudden, unexpected event. Cost: $40 per person- PRE-PAY 100% NON-REFUNDABLE at the time you sign up. Space is VERY limited so register today. Register HERE
Name: Ruian, Ezra, and Nolan
Birthdate: April 24th, May 5th, June 16th
Fun Fact: These adorable boy’s Mamas got to know each other in classes prenatally and postpartum .
You can have your baby featured by emailing usHERE a picture of your cutie and we’ll put them in a newsletter! Please include permission to use the image, your little one’s first name, date of birth, and a fun fact.