What do music and breastfeeding have in common? You may have guessed it! Oxytocin.
What is oxytocin? It is a mama’s favorite hormone, that’s what! It is produced by the pituitary gland and is responsible for reducing stress, anxiety, causes muscle contractions, which helps during child birth and is connected to forming healthy relationships, i.e. bonding and trust.
Listening and playing music increases serum oxytocin levels; thus reducing stress and anxiety. Breastfeeding stimulates the release of oxytocin. Put these two and two together, and you have a happiness cocktail for your brain, and your baby gets the healthy milk they need and want! In fact, there was a study that showed when moms listened to music, recorded visualizations and looked at pictures of their babies, they produced more and fattier milk.
In general, studies have shown that music lifts our moods and promotes feelings of connectedness, whether performing or listening to music together. You may be wondering, what is the best music to play? It really is your preference, though you will want to consider keeping the volume at a comfortable level. Soothing and instrumental classical music is great, but feel free to spice it up too. Playing African rhythms, Mediterranean music or other culturally diverse music can be wonderful and gives your baby exposure to a variety of music styles and rhythms.
There are many ways to get the benefits of music and make it a way of life for your baby and you. You don’t have to be a trained singer or musician either. Music is for everyone! In fact, babies are born musical, so incorporating music into their lives early on is key to helping them stay connected to this inherent quality, as well as nurturing it.
Singing to your baby is wonderful and tends to come natural for mothers. Simple everyday familiar tunes, like Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star, ABCs, or You Are My Sunshine creates the opportunity to connect, bond more, and you guessed it, increases oxytocin! Playing soothing music in the background, while playing with or rocking your baby will help boost oxytocin and joy! Dancing and movement is also a nice way to expand music into your every day. Mommy and me activities like a music and movement class is a great way to go deeper into the music experience, while supporting your baby’s musical development in a safe and fun space.
Here are three simple musical activities to get you started:
1. Play any of these songs, by Vaughan Jones, while you’re breastfeeding.
2. Dance and sway to this instrumental piece, “Scarborough Fair,” before bedtime or naptime
3. Sing “You Are My Sunshine” to your little one while they are awake and alert.
Now you know what music and breastfeeding have in common! Adding music to your everyday will support you and your baby on your breastfeeding journey.
So what are you waiting for? Pump up the music!
Tammy Keorkunian, Founder of Children’s Music Express