Prenatal and Labor Music Playlist Guidelines

You might have heard it’s good for babies to listen to music in utero, or you just might like music yourself and are excited about sharing it with your babies!  Either way, some of our music therapists have created some tips on how to create playlists specifically during pregnancy and labor.

This is also a great way for partners and other family members to help mom! 


  • To help you relax during pregnancy, pick music that helps you feel settled and comfortable. It does not have to be familiar, and remember – it’s okay for your taste in music to change over time—songs that used to help you relax previously might not have the same effect, so revising your playlists is fine!
  • To help you bond with your unborn baby, choose music that helps you imagine what it will be like to hold and cuddle your baby. Lullabies and songs with a “rocking” feel may help. It also might help to sit in a rocking chair while listening to this music, and sing or hum along.

During Labor:

  • As mentioned above, this might be a great task for your partner to be in charge of. Remember, your partner will most likely be the one to change the music as needed during labor.  
  • Create several playlists, based on the stages of labor:
    • For early labor: music that will distract
    • For early-active labor: music that she positively connects to, that helps her feel valued and loved, that helps her notice and let go.
    • For hard active labor: usually music without lyrics is best; meditative, and music she isn’t deeply connected to, that helps her move into a deep internal focus
    • For transition time (typically when moving from 8-10cm dilation): typically no sound/music is preferred during this stage. Partners should stick to yes/no questions and be mindful that mom may not want to be touched.
    • For pushing: music for a fresh restart, that is energizing, motivating, and is something she will want playing during the birth
  • Also, create one playlist of music that she will not know at all, and include different types/kinds of music. This is for when she needs and asks for something different. Remember that labor might change what she wants to hear at that moment, and she can change her mind anytime she wants to.

For more guidance on any of these tips, consulting with a board-certified music therapist (MT-BC) is advised. has a “Find a Music Therapist” feature, and board-certification can be verified at


Suggestions for using music with newborns:

  • Babies prefer their mother’s or other close caregiver’s voice over others. Babies recognize and respond to mom’s voice more quickly than voices of strangers.
  • Lullabies are the best type of music to help babies rest. All cultures have their own lullabies.
  • Lullabies are simple—one or two voices or instruments, volume is soft and steady, speed is slow.
  • Heart rate and breathing can slow down while listening to slow music—for babies and moms!
  • Live singing is more effective than a recording—baby can feel your calm breathing, you can make eye contact, & you can change the music based on baby’s needs.
  • If you are not comfortable singing with your baby just yet, talking and reading to baby is just as important—baby just needs to hear your voice!

Try this:

  • Take a relaxing breath for yourself.
  • Hold your baby chest to chest if possible—baby benefits from this closeness and can feel your breathing and loving care.
  • Sing a favorite lullaby. Your baby won’t mind if you don’t know all the words.  You can even try singing about what you’re doing as you go throughout the day.
  • Humming without words can be really helpful for helping a baby stay calm and go to sleep, too. Humming is more simple, and simple is calming.
  • If able, gently pat baby’s back or bottom to the slow beat or gently rock as you sing or hum.

For a link to lyrics to common lullabies and a link to listen and learn them, click here

For a link to lyrics to some lullabies as well as play songs for older babies, click here 

Source: Liesel Stephens, MT-BC, Children’s Mercy Hospital