Can Music Therapy Help Ease Anxiety For Pregnant Women?

By Beth Leipholtz 12/28/18

Researchers examined whether music could work as a tool to help calm symptoms of anxiety in pregnant women.

pregnant mom dealing with anxiety

With four prior miscarriages, 42-year-old Elizabeth Larsen of Huntley, Ill., struggled with severe anxiety during her pregnancy. But Larsen says she found relief through music therapy, in which music is used to improve health.

New research indicates that mothers with anxiety during pregnancy, like Larsen, can benefit from such therapy.

“I wanted to find wellness tools to ensure that my baby and I would have a safe and wonderful birth,” Larsen told The Washington Post. “Music therapy opened up my bodily senses and helped me to relax.” Recently, researchers studied music and mental health during pregnancy. There were 409 participants, all in their third trimester of pregnancy.

None had a history of anxiety. Of the group, half underwent music therapy where they listened to a relaxing CD three times per week. The other half of the group did not do so. Upon completion of the study, researchers found that those who had taken part in music therapy were overall less anxious than the other group.

“During pregnancy, fears and anxieties about the health of the baby are very common. Many of the women in our study were anxious about the stress test, an ultrasound that examines the health of the baby,” lead researcher Jessica Garcia-Gonzalez told the Post.

She added that the study indicates that “anxiety during pregnancy can increase a woman’s risk of postnatal anxiety and depression, but music therapy can help reduce stress.”

According to Postpartum Support International, anxiety and depression before and after a child’s birth are not rare. The organization says about 6% of pregnant women and 10% of new mothers struggle with anxiety, and about 15% of women grapple with depression after a child is born.

Karen Kleiman, a psychotherapist who specializes in maternal mental health, told the Post that it is vital for mothers and pregnant women to seek treatment for such issues. “Anxiety is associated with prenatal health concerns like preeclampsia, preterm delivery, and low-birth weight, which is why it’s important for women to learn coping strategies to minimize their worries during pregnancy,” she said.

As a board-certified music therapist and birth doula, Kate Taylor told the Post she often provides music therapy for her clients. “I use music as a teaching tool,” she said. “We might analyze song lyrics or listen to instruments or music that can aid in relaxation. Songs can bring up intense emotions for women, which can help them connect with the baby, and openly share their worries and feelings about motherhood.”

For Larsen, music therapy resulted in a more calming pregnancy overall. “During our sessions, we listened to the acoustic guitar,” she told the Post. “At home, I listened to relaxing music on my headphones. The music calmed my anxiety, which helped me stay positive.”

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Beth is a Minnesota girl who got sober at age 20. By day she is a website designer, and in her spare time she enjoys writing about recovery at, doing graphic design and spending time with her boyfriend and three dogs. Find Beth on LinkedInInstagram and Twitter.