University of Limerick
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A pilot study of maternal songwriting to support bonding during pregnancy: “I could feel her rise and fall with my breath while singing”

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journal contribution
posted on 2023-08-16, 07:10 authored by Gemma O'Reilly, Pui Sze CheungPui Sze Cheung, Tríona McCaffreyTríona McCaffrey

Introduction: Attachment is a lasting psychological and emotional bond that impacts a child’s social, emotional, and cognitive development.Maternal-fetal attachment is a precursor to this bond that is regarded as a predictor for mother-infant relating postbirth. Although previous studies have investigated use of music interventions to support maternal-fetal attachment, no study to date has investigated the use of maternal songwriting to support this bond during pregnancy.

Methods: Four pregnant women were recruited to this pilot study. Each woman participated in 2 songwriting workshops with the aim of writing an original song to their fetus. Following the workshops, experiences of using songwriting for the purposes of supporting bonding were investigated,through individual semistructured interviews and analyzed using thematic content analysis.

Results: Analysis of semistructured interviews with pregnant women revealed 3 main themes: song singing promotes physical connection with the fetus; songwriting encourages open communication with the fetus; and songwriting can create a musical legacy within families.

Discussion: To the best of our knowledge, this study is the first of its kind that investigated maternal songwriting to support bonding during pregnancy. Findings indicated that songwriting has the potential to support such attachment due to its capacity to enhance physical connection and open communication with the fetus, while also creating a musical legacy that can be used and passed on among other family members. Overall, songwriting may support pregnant women to draw on their inner resources to create such a bespoke musical gift to their unborn child. Further research around this topic is warranted



Journal of Midwifery Womens Health, 2023, 68, pp.205-209


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  • Irish World Academy of Music & Dance

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