• Hermi Viljoen

Post-partum breastfeeding: Music Therapy for new mothers adjusting to motherhood and breastfeeding

This blog is written for mothers who want to understand a different emotional aspects of breastfeeding. In no way is it suggesting that breastfeeding is the only or correct way of bonding with your baby. There are other methods that can be used if a mother is not breastfeeding that are sacred and special. Whatever method you choose to feed you baby is correct (as long as your child is receiving proper nutrition to develop fully of course). Let’s respect and celebrate all types of feeding methods!

Being a new mother is exciting but can also be a daunting event in a woman’s life. First time mothers are overload ed with information which leaves some feeling anxious about this new chapter in their life. One of the most important factors of an infant’s psychosocial development is to develop a strong and healthy attachment to the mother. Infants exhibit two primary emotional responses at birth: attraction and withdrawal. They show attraction to pleasant situations that offers them comfort, joy, stimulation and pleasure but will withdraw from unpleasant stimulation. Soon after an infant will exhibit social engagement by smiling and making vocalizations (babbling sounds and laughter) in response to positive attention from the mother.

Breastfeeding is a very natural method during this developmental phase of mother-infant attachment and bonding. However, the emotional and mental wellbeing of the mother plays a vital role during breastfeeding as well. Research studies suggests that music therapy groups in NICU’s can be beneficial for new mothers. It can affect the bonding with their infants in the following ways:

  • Group music therapy assists with stress management and anxiety relief for mothers breastfeeding for the first time.

  • Mothers smile and talk more to their infants during and after the music therapy group sessions.

  • Mothers experience more joy during feeding by means of vocalized sounds such as laughter and talking to their infants during breastfeeding.

  • Mothers experience more satisfaction during their breastfeeding experiences, which results in them wanting to breastfeed for longer periods of times.

  • Sessions taking place in an NICU allows new mothers short periods of time that is exclusively dedicated to herself and her infant, with the absence of medical personnel. This provides her with the opportunity to reflect on the joys of becoming a mother and to reflect on her breastfeeding experiences.

  • Mothers express positive emotional responses as evidence by crying, smiling, laughing and talking about personal life events. This promotes healthy emotional bonding and attachment with her infant as well as with the spouse (if one is present) during the session.

  • Mothers who attend longer music therapy sessions feel more relaxed and comfortable whilst breastfeeding. This results in some being able to breastfeed for longer amounts of time. This improves the feeding score of the infants.

  • New mothers who have a positive experience adjusting to the feeding needs of her infant will be able to breastfeed with confidence, and also have a more relaxed and successful experience during future breastfeeding attempts.

Music Therapy sessions taking place before breastfeeding can be powerful tool when providing for the emotional needs of new mothers. It holds the potential of lowering the risk of postpartum depression. It is vital that the mental health and wellbeing of the mothers are cared for as it can potentially affect the experience of breastfeeding for both mother and infant in a negative way. Music therapy has the potential to strengthen healthy bonds and attachment for both mother and infant.


McMurry, D. E. (1992). Prenatal breast feeding education: its effect on

Mothers postpartum anxiety levels. Unpublished masters thesis, The Florida

State University.

Procelli, D. E. (2005). The Effects of Music Therapy and Relaxation Prior to Breastfeeding on the Anxiety of New Mothers and the Behavior State of Their Infants during Feeing. Unpublished masters thesis, The Florida State University.

Reyes, E. (1983). Predicting breast-feeding success. Unpublished masters thesis, The

Florida State University.

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