How music may support perinatal mental health: an overview

Sanfilippo, Katie Rose; Stewart, Lauren and Glover, Vivette. 2021. How music may support perinatal mental health: an overview. Archives of Women's Mental Health, 24(5), pp. 831-839. ISSN 1434-1816 [Article]

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Abstract or Description

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 diferent 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.

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Additional Information:

This work was supported by a South East Network for Social Sciences/The Economic and Social Research Council-funded postdoctoral fellowship awarded to Dr Katie Rose Sanfilippo (Grant Reference Number: ES/V010158/1)


Music, Singing, Prenatal, Postnatal, Mental health

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19 April 2021Submitted
18 August 2021Accepted
28 August 2021Published Online
September 2021Published

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Date Deposited:

07 Sep 2021 15:52

Last Modified:

19 Oct 2021 13:36

Peer Reviewed:

Yes, this version has been peer-reviewed.


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