Importance of Music in Developing a Healthy Bonding Experience Between Mother and Infant Introduction The relationship of mother and child Is arguably one of the most common interactions in existence among all species in the animal kingdom. This is not to say however that prevalence diminishes the value of this relationship but rather emphasizes its’ importance. It Is logical to assume that the mother-infant relationship possesses characteristics and qualities which have proven to be evolutionary advantageous due to the fact that the mother-infant relationship is an unavoidable part of life amongst the phylum mammal.
One theory in which offers a possible explanation presents the belief that “the early relationship between mother and baby has a major Impact on the child’s later cognitive, emotional and social development” (Paradise 1), in turn enriching the ability of the infant to interact within its’ respective society and therefore, proving the relationship to be evolutionary advantageous. Music is one of the many structures which facilitate the creation of this bond due to Its communicative aspects. More specifically, this phenomenon occurs in both the prenatal and postnatal environment as well as within lullaby music.
Considering the fact that responses of the infant in early stages of life are strictly behavioral (Holistic-Davis 1), communication in this case refers to linguistic, behavioral, and emotional interactions. Music as a communicative tool Is significant In developing a healthy bond between a mother and her Infant because the beneficial long-term effects it has on the psychological, physiological, behavioral, and emotional states of both aforementioned parties. The Fetal and Maternal Musical Experience
Humans are musical organisms whose fundamental systems and actions reflect aspects of music such as rhythm. A proposed explanation for this phenomena is the way in which “musical patterns are similar to perceptual patterns to which the fetus is regularly exposed before birth: the fundamental frequency trajectory of the mother’s voice, its relationship to breathing, and the rhythm of her heart beat and footsteps” (Halls 219). While in outer, internal sounds are amplified louder than external sounds therefore, the fetus becomes familiar with biological sounds and behaviors associated with its mother.
For example, the fact that the baby is partial Is not a mystery when one considers the fact that the Infant perceives Its mothers’ voice as being 8 db louder than her conversational partners (Halls 221). Although “it is physically impossible for the fetus to localize sound sources” (220), the prevalence at which the fetus is exposed to the internal sounds of its’ mother provide ample evidence that It learns to recognize these patterns even after birth-?prenatal experiences translate Into postnatal behaviors.
Given the understanding of biological rhythms found in humans as well as other species of mammals and the OFF one can draw the conclusion that “associations between sound, movement and emotion are ultimately of prenatal origin” (223). The Environment of the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICE) The womb is the natural and ideal environment in which the fetus undergoes development and learning. However, fetal development is incomplete in the event infants are born before undergoing the full gestation period, which in turn poses threats to healthy physical and cognitive development.
It is the goal of the neonatal intensive care unit (NICE) to mimic the uterine environment in order to encourage omelet cognitive and physical development within the hospital. Unfortunately, this environment is often harmful to the neonate for reasons such as inappropriate sensory stimulation and devastating effects to their sleep-wake cycle. In order to undergo any form of development the human brain must be stimulated in such a way that fosters brain growth (Schwartz 14).
Optimal stimulation is sometimes difficult to achieve when considering the fragile sensory state of the pre-term neonate however, studies show that noises common to the NICE such as those “of personnel, advanced monitoring and mechanical ventilation equipment, the [isolate] itself” have serious adverse physiological effects on the neonate (Unknown 2). Many of these stress-related effects prevent the neonate from being discharged and may include: heart rate variations, increased oxygen consumption, decreased blood oxygen levels, blood pressure fluctuations, and agitation (Schwartz 13).
The NICE environment proves to be an inappropriate environment due to the way it stimulates the auditory and tactile senses. Parents are often unable to hold or interact with their infant due to its fragile state. Canadian M. D. Jack Newman, who specializes in breastfeeding research and advocacy, recognizes the importance of Kangaroo care; this form of developmental care has proven highly beneficial, involving skin-to-skin contact between mother and child.
It is common for the pre-term neonate to experience difficulty maintaining a homeostasis bodily environment however, unless the infant suffers from respiratory distress immediate skin-to-skin contact with the mother following birth is beneficial in aiding the baby to become metabolically stable (Newman 1). Newman also advocates that this contact causes the infant to be colonized by the same type of cetera as its mother and therefore, resulting in a lower probability of the infant developing allergic diseases.
Infants, both pre-term and full term, who were exposed to such contact were reported as happier, had a stable body temperature, heart rate, regulated breathing, and increased blood sugar (Newman 1). By removing the inhibiting effects of stress the bond between the mother and her infant is able to blossom on its own. Also, by exposing the infant to Kangaroo care causes it to become more familiar with the body of the mother and therefore, it is more likely to e able to indicate when in need of feeding (Newman 1).
Kangaroo care has several beneficial physiological effects on the neonate and encourages bonding between the mother and her infant however; machines such as incubators in the NICE prevent this valuable bonding experience in the first few weeks of life. Stress responses pertaining to the environment of the NICE, such as decreased blood oxygen saturation and an irregular heart rate, disturb the sleep-wake cycle and (Holistic-Davis 1). It is important to recognize that behavioral responses are the sole means of communication of which the neonate is capable.
Since infants require greater amounts of ERM sleep than adults, it is logical to conclude that important development occurs in these states. In support of this claim, “movements during active sleep – twitches, startles and rapid eye movements – may be needed for the development of neuromuscular and sensory systems” (Holistic-Davis 2). A decrease in the amount of time spent in ERM sleep results in adverse effects on the “infant’s immediate response to stimulation [and] the functioning of the central nervous system, [which has] been found to be related to developmental outcomes” (Holistic-
Davis 1). Since the disturbance of sleep-wake cycles induced by the environment of the NICE negatively affects cognitive and motor development, it also has proven to be detrimental to mother-infant interaction. In one particular study infants who were deprived of adequate ERM sleep displayed an increase in the amount of time their eyes were closed while interacting with their mother as opposed to those who received adequate sleep (Holistic-Davis 3).
The significance of “[these] findings indicate that sleep-wake patterns relate to the psychosocial development of preterm infants both directly, through effects on infant responsiveness and brain development, and indirectly, by influencing the types of social stimulation that preterm infants receive” (4). Research also found that when neonates in the NICE were isolated from the external auditory environment using earmuffs, they experienced increased oxygen saturation, more time in the sleep state, and earlier discharge from the hospital (Schwartz 15).
Furthermore, mother-infant bonding is enhanced when negative physiological responses from the NICE environment are not present; when music was introduced into this setting however, negative physiological effects which inhibit successful bonding between the mother and child were alleviated which in turn positively influenced the aforementioned relationship. Experimenting with Music in the NICE A study conducted on the effects of mothers’ singing in the NICE analyzed the relationship between music and the length of time which the pre-term infant spent in the NICE as well as the emotional and psychological state of the mother.
Music was introduced while in the hospital as well as within the first two weeks of life at home. In this study mothers of pre-term babies in the experimental group were able o create a CD of their singing which was played three to five times per week in the hospital for approximately twenty minutes at a time when the mother was unable to visit her child. Once the infant was discharged, the mothers were asked to play the CD they had made in the home as they deemed fit. The mothers of pre-term infants who had the chance to make the CD reported using it in order to calm the fussy infant as well as while putting the child to sleep.
The results of this study reflect music as having positive effects in the NICE due to the fact that the mean weight gain or infants who were exposed to their mothers’ singing in the hospital was 17. 70 grams per day whereas the mean weight gain for pre-term infants whose mothers did not create a CD, the control group, was 16. 96 g per day. While these results are not substantial they do suggest that the CD of the mothers’ voice played a positive role in development. Also, “Infants in the experimental group left the hospital 2 days days” (297).
These positive developmental effects on the infant directly correlate with a more positive mother-child interaction. It was Carling who proposed the idea that maternal sensitivity to behavioral espouses are dependent on the developmental status of her infant: Mothers of premature infants spent less time overall with their infants, smiled less and evinced less positive affect when interacting with infants, were less sensitive if they had a very low birth weight infant, and did not hold their infant as close to their body during the infants’ first two 2 years of life compared to mothers of full-term infants. Coevals 275) The mothers in the Coevals study also reported they felt more capable of coping with their infants’ stay in the NICE knowing that the infant was listening to heir voice when they could not be present. The beneficial effects on development of the neonate coupled with decreased anxiety in the mother result in a more satisfying bonding interaction between the mother and child.
Lullabies The lullaby is a time-honored tradition which has persisted across all cultures. One possible explanation for this phenomenon is the fact that the lullaby employs two cultural universals of music. The first being that in all cultures people make music and individuals are able to recognize when music is happening; secondly, song form s the most universal form of music due to the fact that people sing songs pertinent to their cultural identity from an early age. Lullabies are rhymed and harmonious words; in the form of poetry and prose according to a certain melody generally sung by mothers” as a means to calm or lull a young one to sleep through positive physiological effects such as decreasing their blood pressure (Genes 316). Given the fragile sensory state of the premature infant, lullabies typically consist of the following elements: “gentle rhythms, flowing and lyrical melodies, simple harmonies, and a soft tone color” (Schwartz 17).
In order to soothe the infant by encouraging a decreased stress response, it also is necessary for lullaby music to forego utilization of dissonance as well as abrupt changes in dynamics, rhythm, and tempo. In fact lullabies are most commonly composed with a tempo ranging between 60-82 beats per minute which is coincidently approximate to the resting adult heart beat with which the infant became intimately familiar during the fetal stage of life (Schwartz 18).
It stands to reason that the lullaby has become a tradition in all cultures because it lends itself to functions which are deemed to be important or valuable. Lullabies also serve as a means of communication between mother and infant. While the infant is unable to interpret linguistic meaning of these songs it is highly receptive to the emotional content found in single tones and speaking syllables, such as those contained within the mothers’ voice (Schwartz 15).
The mother is able to direct her baby in ways specific to the situation “by softening, rising, hardening, fastening or slowing [her voice,]” all of which are aspects which can be defined as musical (Genes 316). A possible explanation as to why lullabies are effective in immunization with an infant is because they express wishes, desires and love [which are] generally meant for the wellbeing of the child; coincidentally these are communicative processes to which the newborn is prepared to comprehend (Schwartz 15).
This innate ability possessed by the infant allows for “promotion of the child’s physical development, behavioral characteristics, and level of Studies have found that a child who grows up listening to lullabies sung by its’ mother will experience healthier communication with her due to positive effects on the neurological stimulation and subconscious of the infant (Genes 316). In this study it was discovered that the related perception centers of the infants’ brain becomes active while engaging with its’ mother through lullaby music.
It is vital to create neurological pathways in the brain in order to learn and retain new information and skills therefore; the child gains the ability to comprehend information more quickly and effectively as the frequency of which the mother sings to her baby. Notable findings in regards to psychological effects suggested that the subconscious of the infant was positively affected due to “wishes, desires and love expressed in lullabies]; generally meant for the wellbeing of the child” (Genes 317).
Therefore, a mother who employs the practice of singing lullabies to her baby is more likely to be associated with positive emotions within the infant and thus strengthening and enriching their bond. In the study of the effects of lullabies on children Genes concluded: The real reason of why the children are affected by the expressions taking place in the lullabies has its source in the mother’s sharing the events that make her sad or happy in a sincere and heartily way. And so the baby is able to follow the happenings ay by day out of what it hears and able to feel its mother’s mood deeply. 318) This understanding coupled with the logic that lullabies must be evolutionary advantageous due to its ability to withstand the test of time lends merit to the fact that lullaby music has beneficial effects on behavioral, psychological, and emotional development of the infant; therefore, lullabies between mother and child facilitate the creation of a strong, meaningful bond. Conclusion Music positively influences several long-term effects on physiological, behavioral, emotional, and psychological states; therefore, music is a highly effective means of securing a healthy bonding relationship between mother and child.
The primary function of music in this relationship is communication. The communicative ability of music proves to be successful in fostering a nurturing maternal bond in regards to biological aspects of music specific to the uterine environment, its’ role in development of the neonate, and in cultural traditions such as lullabies. The significance of the relationship cannot be undermined due to its prevalence in the mammalian phylum; this rather acts as evidence towards the idea that this relationship is evolutionary advantageous to survival.