What Song Did You Give Birth To? 10 Moms Share
Written by MIA QUAGLIARELLO
Photography by Latham Thomas, photographed by Heather Moore
How women chose to give birth is as individual as the little people that pop out. And a small (or big) part of each birth story can be the music. Yep, that’s right, we’re talking tunes to give birth to. Which songs, albums, and artists are best for the most momentous moment? We asked 10 music-motivated moms to share the songs—and stories—that preceded their baby’s first wail. Talk about life-changing listens!
“Music wasn’t a part of the birth plan, but it became the only plan. My second labor came strong and fast. I got out of my bed and my contractions were three minutes apart and long. My husband was running around the house trying to be helpful and get our oldest daughter situated with her grandparents. We called my doula immediately, but her arrival felt like it would never come. I was essentially alone in the intensity and I couldn’t stop thinking about my late grandmother/best friend who did this four times in her life. I knew I had to get ahead of the pain or else this birth would get away from me. I grabbed my phone and started playing my grandmother’s favorite album, Carole King’s Tapestry. The music took me into a deep state through intense contractions and I felt as if my grandmother was in the room. My husband finally resurfaced with my doula, and asked ‘What’s up with Carole King?’ My doula nicely reminded him to not interrupt my flow. My grandmother and Carole King carried me along through my natural birth, until I was able to hold my second daughter in my arms.” –Ashley Bullie Koch of Vibrantly Healthy Kids.
“I have an ongoing playlist of songs that make me happy. It’s super random. My daughter was born during ‘Purple Rain‘ and ‘Could You Be Loved‘ by Bob Marley. I remember watching everyone dance as she came into this world. And now when I hear ‘Could You Be Loved,’ it’s her song.” -Becca Jones, owner of XO Bakes.
“For my second birth, I used the Eternal Om. It’s continuous chanting that’s subtle enough to fade into the background and yet quite powerful. All the nurses who came into check me would mention how calm it felt in the room and I think the sound was responsible for creating that mood. My OB loved it, too, and she downloaded it to her phone to suggest to other patients. Yoga instructor Jane Austin plays it in many of her prenatal classes.” -Lauren Berdell Podoll, co-owner of The Podolls.
“I didn’t have any music during my first birth experience, but when my midwife asked if we wanted to turn on some music during my second delivery, my husband spontaneously chose Erik Satie’s ‘Three Gymnopédies,’ one of our favorite classical piano pieces, as I paced back and forth in my labor and delivery room. The familiar notes—and my amazing midwife!—helped me through an all-natural birth. The songs were so soothing that at some point, I wasn’t aware of the sound of the music at all anymore. I had to ask my husband after our son was born whether it had been playing the whole time, which it had!” -Talia Kennedy, senior product management lead at Apple.
“I never even thought about having music. But during my very emergency C-section, the doctor asked me what Pandora station I wanted. The only thing that came to mind was Little Dragon. He asked my partner, too, who said the same, interestingly. Four days later, when trying to decide on a name, I recalled the Little Dragon song that was playing when she was delivered and looked up the lyrics. There’s a line that references doves. And one of the two names on our short list means dove. So, we considered that a full circle sign. And Paloma was named.” -Rheanna Monique Martinez, communications director and co-founder of The Paloma Co.
“I started with Frank Ocean’s ‘Channel Orange,’ then The Weeknd ‘House of Balloons‘ when things got real in the tub. I like my music loud and my husband Danny actually tried to change the music at one point because of all the ‘explicit lyrics’ and I got explicit on him and told him to change it back, saying the nurses don’t give a f*ck what I listen to, I’m having a baby goddamn it. ‘The Morning‘ by The Weeknd was the jam that got me through it.” -Erin Feher Montoya, writer and San Francisco Magazine editor.
“One of the most hilarious parts of my birth was that I used Pandora to play Beach House or Bon Iver or something, but I am obviously too cheap to pay for the premium service, so it kept playing ads. And somehow my Pandora thinks I live in Missouri! So, it was for, like, Kia dealerships in Kansas City ads. Kind of amazing. It actually broke up the mood in a funny way.” -Surya Kishi Grover, owner of Tosan.
“My boyfriend loves the band Earth. It’s almost all instrumental. We listened and made the baby listen to it a lot when I was pregnant. I had a scheduled C-section, so for me it was more about having something calming—and something that hopefully was familiar for my son when he came out.” -Pauline Montupet, wardrobe stylist and owner of Le Point.
“We played Tom Petty, Fleetwood Mac, and my son Zephyr actually came out to Led Zeppelin’s ‘Going to California.’ Having music ready was one of the best prep things we did before, it made a huge difference for me.” -Elizabeth Olson, Creative Director of AFAR Media.
“My life has always been so full of music, and during pregnancy we listened to all different kinds of music around the clock. I was surprised that when it came time to deliver, I never pressed play. We just wanted to hear her. And that was the sweetest sound.” -Lisa Anderson Shaffer, jewelry designer of Zelma Rose.
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