The effects of mothers' singing on full-term and preterm infants and maternal emotional responses.
J Music Ther. 2008;45(3):273-306. PMID: 18959452
The purpose of this research was to determine the effects of mothers' singing on their adjustment to and bonding with their new infants as well as use of music in the home environment in the first 2 weeks after their infants' birth. Preterm mothers were assessed for coping with their infants' NICU stay, and premature infants' length of hospitalization was evaluated. Fifty-four full-term infants and mothers and 20 premature infants and 16 mothers were randomly assigned to experimental or control conditions. Mothers in both experimental groups were recorded singing songs of their choice for use at home. Recordings of each preterm mother's voice were played 20 minutes per day, 3 to 5 times per week, at a time when she was not able to visit her infant in the NICU. All full-term and preterm mothers in experimental and control groups completed a posttest survey 2 weeks after infants were discharged. Comparisons revealed that experimental preterm and full-term mothers indicated less adjustment to their baby and lifestyle changes and less bonding compared to control mothers, though this difference was not significant. Preterm and full-term experimental mothers reported the greatest number of postpartum medical complications, which might explain their poor adjustment and bonding scores. There was a significant difference between mothers' value of music, with preterm experimental valuing music more. Preterm and full-term experimental mothers used music with and sang to infants more compared to preterm and full-term control mothers, but not to a significant degree. Preterm mothers reported a mean score of 4.75 (with a 5 indicating that they strongly agreed) for the following item: knowing my infant listened to my singing helped me to cope with my infant's stay in the NICU. Furthermore, preterm infants who listened to the CD recording of their mothers' singing left the hospital an average of 2 days sooner than those in the control group, though this difference was not significant.