SALT LAKE CITY — A local doula offers a unique service by pairing her expertise and her passion.
Music therapist and doula Beth Hardy said she assists parents through labor and birth using personalized music.
"As far as music therapy goes, I had always been really interested in music and involved in music my whole life. … I just knew that I wanted to somehow use it to help people," Hardy said.
Hardy studied music therapy at Berklee College of Music in Boston and first began working with veterans. A few years ago, she decided to combine her two passions of birth and music by training in a program called music therapy assisted childbirth.
Last May, Hardy moved from California to Salt Lake and started her business Heart Tones Music Therapy and Birth Services.
One of the main things she focuses on with her clients is using music they personally resonate with.
During the months leading up to labor, the music therapist works with her clients to understand their music preferences and to help them practice by using music in their daily routines.
Using music during birth can help the moms relax and feel calm, but can also help mask some of the environmental sounds in the hospital and make the environment as comforting as possible, Hady said.
According to "Using music during childbirth," a study conducted by researchers at the Wilfrid Laurier University, 11 pregnant women chose preferred music, listened to it every day and were instructed about focused listening. The women were interviewed within three days after giving birth regarding the music as a coping strategy during labor.
Each of the participants used the music to distract them from their pain or current situation. The study concluded that "the planned use of music by mothers and caregivers can be an aid to prenatal preparation and an important adjunct in pain and stress management during labor and birth."
Hardy helps her clients create their own personalized playlists, and the doula also gives them access to more than 40 playlists that are each at least one hour long. The music is typically instrumental and includes classical, new age, rhythmic drumming, guitar and more.
Before a baby's birth, Hardy speaks with her clients, and they tell her of their love for their baby and their desires and hopes for their baby. Hardy then incorporates those words into an easy-to-learn "womb song" that she teaches the parents before the birth.
Anyone can play music during their birth, but as a music therapist, Hardy said she is trained to know which music is appropriate for different times.
In another study published by the Journal of Clinical Nursing, 236 pregnant women were assigned to either music therapy or control groups. The women in the music therapy group underwent two weeks of music intervention, and the control group got general prenatal care.
For the study, the women's psychological health was assessed with three self-report measures including perceived stress scale, state scale of the state-trait anxiety inventory and Edinburgh postnatal depression scale.
After two weeks, the music therapy group showed a more significant decrease in each of the self-report measures.
Following the baby's birth, Hardy also offers postpartum doula services. In addition to assisting with the baby and housework during the first months of the baby's life, she also incorporates music into the first weeks of the baby's life by helping the parents write an original lullaby.
Hardy said music can help people process through big changes in their lives.
"Any time in our lives that is like a huge change like if we get married or if a person that we love passes away or if we have a baby, we're going to remember that time for the rest of our life," Hardy said. "And so to have specific music that we can play later on to recollect back to those times can really help us to kind of keep that special time in our hearts and be able to think back on it with fond memories by listening to that music."