It might sound crazy but singing to your baby bump really can be good for your unborn child
00:27 GMT, 19 November 2012
The women huddle in a circle. Eyes closed, they are singing a melodic folk song in three part harmony. As they gently sway most instinctively rub their pregnant bellies.
We’re not in a new-age birthing centre, but a busy London NHS hospital.
These women are taking part in a new mum-to-be singing workshop at the Chelsea and Westminster Hospital; one of a growing number of classes using singing to help women prepare for birth.
In tune: Mums-to-be sing along with Maya (centre) at the Chelsea and Westminster NHS hospital
This particular course — called Wombsong — is the first of its kind to be offered free to NHS patients (funding comes from the hospital’s arts charity rather than the NHS), but private classes are also offered across the country.
Advocates claim singing not only helps mothers relax (singing increases levels of endorphins and the happy hormone serotonin) and bond with their unborn child (it helps the baby recognise the mother’s voice) but the breathing techniques learnt in singing classes can alleviate pain during labour.
Maya Waldman, the teacher responsible for Wombsong, says: 'Singing will help control and slow the breath.
'Using those techniques to breathe deeply and slowly in labour can really calm your muscles and body.'
The class begins with exercises to warm up the voice and body before the class launches into a Polynesian rowing song — chosen for its simplicity and soothing melody.
'The songs are generally easy to learn and you don’t have to feel confident about singing in order to come,' says Maya.
The resulting sound is impressive. During a tea break, the class — mainly consisting of professional women — agree Wombsong is a good way to relax and focus on their unborn babies.
'It has really helped me enjoy my pregnancy,' said one first-time mum.
From a practical point of view, it could make life easier when your baby is born.
'A baby’s hearing develops very early in pregnancy,' says Maya. 'So you can use the same songs when the baby is born. If they’re upset or agitated they will be calmed by songs they recognise.'
For more information visit chelwest.nhs.uk